25 Aug 2009
The big news today is that s Yahoo has bought Maktoob.
If you ever needed reminding that the Arabic web is a real growth area, this surely is it.
Maktoob has seen almost fourfold growth over the last year, growing from 6 million unique visitors in June 2008 to 21.8 million a year later, according to comScore.
Yahoo is making a big deal out of this - proving that the Arabic speaking world is seen as an important emerging player in the social web.
But possibly it bucks a trend. Maktoob's founder points out that it is the first time an American tech and media company has acquired an Arab-grown tech and media company.
The same success can unfortunately not be said for some other really excellent Arab web projects, like microblogging service Wat Wet.
The question is what impact will this deal have on Arabic web content and use?
Maktoob's chief executive thinks this will bring world class web services to the Arab region.
Certainly, with ICANN predicting the next 10 to 20 million new web users in the Arab world speaking no or little English, having a foothold in the world's fastest growing internet market is a good plan for Yahoo (though they won't have the sometimes derided Maktoob search engine Araby).
We also await to see whether Yahoo will start thinking about translation services.
This seems an ideal opportunity to take on Google in its Middle East plans with translation services built on open data.
Watch this space.