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Yahoo eyes Mideast's 'exciting' markets
Published in Daily News Egypt on 07 - 06 - 2011

CAIRO: Yahoo's Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz sees huge opportunity in the growth of the web in the Middle East.
“When we look around the world, the Middle East and North Africa is one of the most exciting markets for us at Yahoo, with a combination of rapid user growth and a very attractive advertising market with incredible potential,” Bartz told media at a gathering in Dubai.
“Arabic is also one of the fastest growing languages on the internet, yet only 1 percent of online content is in Arabic today,” Bartz added, according to a statement from the company.
“Part of Yahoo's investment in MENA is to facilitate the growth of the Arabic language online.”
Yahoo acquired Maktoob in November 2009 has since opened offices across Dubai, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh and Casablanca, totaling around 300 employees who work in editorial, engineering, sales, marketing and customer care.
“Because our teams are local, we understand what people need and in turn develop our products accordingly to serve up the right content,” said Bartz.
Since acquiring Maktoob, the combined reach of the company has grown from 30 million unique users to 50 million.
“Yahoo Maktoob has also establishhed content deals with the likes of Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters and the Saudi Publishing & Research Company, and continues to look for more Arabic language content partners. The company continues to recruit writers, bloggers and editors to make its original content in Arabic broader and richer,” the statement read.
“We are making our content mobile, since mobile penetration for this region is growing at an incredible rate,” said Bartz. “This month we will introduce our Yahoo Maktoob homepage for mobile in both Arabic and English. Also look for mobile versions of our media properties, like news and sports.”
As broadband penetration continues to rise in the Middle East, Bartz said Yahoo plans to invest more in Video On Demand service to deliver content from popular Arabic TV series, movies and music videos.
One of their new products for Ramadan will see Yahoo's Middle East editorial team selecting lifestyle and religious content from its news, women, video and omg properties, and popular forums.
She also emphasized the importance of online advertising. “Yahoo Maktoob is the number one in the Middle East and North Africa for display advertising, with 40 percent market share,” according to the statement.
Online ad spend for the region is currently only 2 percent of total advertising spend for the entire region. France's, for example, is around 15 percent and in the UK's is 25 percent.
Bartz noted that the region is host to the fastest growing advertising market in the world, with average year-on-year growth in digital spending around 25-30 percent.
“We envision the online ad market in MENA to reach at least 5-7 percent of the total ad market by 2015,” said Bartz.

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