Babylon & Beyond

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Yahoo to join forces with Arabic site

August 25, 2009 |  9:47 pm

Web giant Yahoo has announced its acquisition of the Arab-based site  

According to reports from Bloomberg, the New York Times, Agence France-Presse, and PC World, the purchase was announced at a news conference in Dubai today, though its specific terms were withheld.

At the conference, Yahoo’s Senior Vice President and Head of Emerging Markets Keith Nilsson said, “Maktoob is a terrific local brand. Yahoo will be combining its global technology and Maktoob’s local Arabic content.”

The site, which was founded in 2000 after the dot-com rise and fall, serves 22 Arab countries as a vendor for online debit cards, auctions, a marriage-service directory and entertainment but most notably as a search engine.

According to the online analytics site, Maktoob reaches more than 59,000 Arabic-speaking people who regularly use its site in the United States. 

However, it globally expands to a potential reach of more than 320 million, according to Bloomberg. says that Yahoo, which is the second-most popular search engine in the U.S. (Google is No .1 with more than 147 million regular monthly visitors), receives more than 141 million.

“Maktoob is the ultimate Web-based company of the Middle East region because it started before the dot-com boom of the 1990s and survived the crash,” Maktoob co-founder told  Bloomberg today. 

In 2007, Abraaj Capital Ltd., a Dubai-based company, sold its share in Maktoob to an investment firm in the U.S., Tiger Global Management, which will now go to Yahoo.

-- Amber Smith in Los Angeles