Yahoo reiterates commitment to MENA region

Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo Inc

The combination of rapid user growth and an attractive advertising market has made the Middle East one of the most exciting markets for Yahoo, according to Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo Inc., who was on a visit to Dubai recently.

Bartz, on her first visit to Dubai as the company’s CEO, held discussions with senior management representatives of Dubai Internet City, part of TECOM Investments highlighting the global technology major’s key role in the creation of Arabic online content, products and advertising.

Bartz reiterated that Yahoo is committed to the MENA region as it is one of the fastest growing markets in the world with 70 million online users and 50 million more estimated to come in within the next two to three years. In spite of Arabic being one of the fastest growing languages, only 1% of online content is in Arabic today. Therefore, part of Yahoo’s investments in the MENA region is to facilitate Arabic language’s online growth.

Yahoo plans to continue expanding in the region as the company has already established content deals with some of the media majors including Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters and Saudi Publishing and Research Company. The region also hosts the fastest growing advertising market in the world, and year-on-year, the average growth for digital spend is around 25-30 per cent of the total ad spend. Yahoo foresees online ad market in MENA to reach up to seven per cent of the total ad spend by 2015.

Malek Al Malek, MD at Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource Zone, says: “Online Arabic content has recently witnessed a rising trend buoyed by the increasing interest of regional and global players to gain a foothold in the region. DIC has always encouraged and supported the development of local content in Arabic and content developers in the region. The visit of the CEO of Yahoo!’s global operations signifies the importance of this region and its potential in the long run.”

Yahoo! acquired Maktoob in November 2008 and since then has invested in fully staffed offices in Dubai, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh and Casablanca. There are approximately 300 employees in these offices working in editorial, engineering, sales, marketing and customer care divisions.