Hopefully, the Yahoo Experience in Arabic Won't Include a "Maktoooooo-ooob!" Yodel

Published on August 25, 2009
by John Paczkowski

acquisitions1Online ad spending in the Middle East is expected to increase between 35 and 45 percent this year. Little wonder then that Yahoo is entering the market there.

This morning, Yahoo said it is acquiring, an Arabic online portal that boasts some 16 million users. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed, but paidContent values it at between $75 million and $80 million.

“Access to information and communications tools can positively impact people’s lives in many ways,” Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said in a statement, “and with the acquisition of and our investment in the region, the Arab world will soon get a Yahoo experience in Arabic with relevant local language content, programming and services.”

For Yahoo (YHOO), which is working to expand its international footprint, the move is an important one. While there are more than 320 million Arabic speakers worldwide, less than one percent of online content is in Arabic. The market is still in its early stages and it is already underserved. In other words, it represents a tremendous opportunity for local versions of Yahoo Search, Mail, Messenger and other properties.

“This deal is part of Yahoo!’s broader strategy to grow our international business, particularly in emerging markets,” Keith Nilsson, Yahoo’s Senior Vice President of Emerging Markets, said in a blog post. “In many countries, vast populations–and advertisers–are just starting to come online. The potential is tremendous. Yahoo! has a large and growing audience in these markets today, and our acquisition of Maktoob represents the kind of investment we’re making to cater to the needs of these promising regions.”

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