Yahoo! Maktoob

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TypePrivate company
IndustryInternet services
HeadquartersDubai, United Arab Emirates
Key people
Ahmed Nassef, MD/VP, Yahoo! Middle East

Maktoob (Arabic: مكتوب) is an online services company founded in Amman (Jordan). was known for being the first Arabic/English email service provider.[1] In 2009, Yahoo! acquired, thus turning Maktoob into Yahoo!'s official arm in the MENA region.[2]


Early days[edit]

Maktoob was founded in 1999 by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury who were able to introduce a webmail service with Arabic support for emails when no other free email service had such support.[3] They also helped users who did not have Arabic keyboard or browsers that support Arabic to send and receive emails by using a virtual keyboard which was done in Java, and using Java applets that had better Arabic support.

The initial flourish of Maktoob and its large user base led the company to create several services and content channels for Arab users, many of which were not found previously in Arabic format. Chatting, Greeting Cards, and simple content channels were upon the first to be developed internally. Since then, Maktoob diversified its services through both acquisitions and internal development to have close to 40 different channels and services.

The success of the Maktoob portal drove the company to start new online businesses. cashU was founded to address the issue of electronic payments in the region, as an auctions and marketplace; was founded to provide MMO/MMORPG games for the Middle East internet users, was an Arabic Search engine; Maktoob Research a successful online research service founded by Tamara Deprez; and the first and biggest online private shopping club in the Middle East, founded by Saygin Yalcin.

Abraaj Capital acquisition[edit]

In June 2005, the UAE-based private equity house Abraaj Capital purchased 40% of the company shares in a $5 million deal.[4] The rationale for such an acquisition (according to Abraaj's website[citation needed]) was that Maktoob has a large user base (claimed to be more than 4 million) and, according to marketing literature, "a dominant online payment option cashU and a strong brand name. It has established the first Arab online auction site which will benefit from leveraging the large community network."

In April 2006, Maktoob acquired 80% of popular Arab sports website[5]

In December 2007, Abraaj sold its share to Tiger Global Management with an internal rate of return of 75%.[6][7]


In 2009, Maktoob was sold to Yahoo! for $164 million.[8] In January 2011, email users were migrated from the domain to the domain.[9]

In January 2015, Yahoo! let go half of its staff in Dubai, and it announced in December 2015 the closure of its office in Dubai, its last office in the MENA region.[10] The move was an attempt to "streamline" Yahoo's international operations.[11]

The Yahoo! acquisition of Maktoob remains one of the biggest acquisitions in the region, and a success story for other entrepreneurs. Yahoo!'s money made it possible for to develop and reach a $1 billion valuation.[12]


Yahoo! Maktoob provides the following online services: News (Yahoo! Maktoob News), sports news (Yahoo! Maktoob Sport), a blogging platform (Yahoo! Maktoob Blog), a social network (Yahoo! Maktoob As7ab Maktoob), a bilingual online research community (Yahoo! Maktoob Research), a marriage portal (Yahoo! Maktoob Bentelhalal), a travel portal (Yahoo! Maktoob Travel) and a casual gaming platform (Yahoo! Maktoob Games).


  1. ^ Patrick Clark (30 April 2013). "Syria's Tech Startups Find a Refuge in Jordan". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Confirmed: Yahoo Acquires Arab Internet Portal Maktoob". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  3. ^ "The story of Yahoo's acquisition of Maktoob [Case Study]". 13 October 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  4. ^ " sells 40% stake to Abraaj Capital". Arabian Business. 15 June 2005. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  5. ^ " picks up majority stakes in popular arab sports website". 24 April 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  6. ^ Archived 2008-01-03 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Abraaj Capital sells stake in". Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  8. ^ Jeffrey Ghannam (3 February 2011). "Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011" (PDF). The Center for International Media Assistance. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  9. ^ Ben Flanagan (14 January 2011). "Thousands hit by Yahoo Maktoob change to e-mail". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  10. ^ Neil Halligan (16 December 2015). "Yahoo to close last Middle East office in Dubai". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  11. ^ Dickinson, Eleanor (2015-12-15). "Yahoo Middle East to close Dubai office in bid to 'streamline' operations". Gulf Business. Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  12. ^ Samih Toukan (23 December 2015). "Yahoo! closes but Maktoob's legacy continues". Retrieved 17 March 2017.