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|Headquarters||Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|Ahmed Nassef, MD/VP, Yahoo! Middle East|
Yahoo! Maktoob (Arabic: مكتوب) is an online services company founded in Amman (Jordan). Maktoob.com was known for being the first Arabic/English email service provider. In 2009, Yahoo! acquired Maktoob.com, thus turning Maktoob into Yahoo!'s official arm in the MENA region.
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. 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, Souq.com as an auctions and marketplace; Tahadi.com was founded to provide the best MMO/MMORPG games for the Middle East internet users, Araby.com an Arabic Search engine; Maktoob Research an online research service founded by Tamara Deprez; and Sukar.com the first and biggest online private shopping club in the Middle East, founded by Saygin Yalcin.
Abraaj Capital Acquisition
In June 2005, the UAE-based private equity house Abraaj Capital purchased 40% of the company shares in a USD 5.2 million buyout deal. The rationale for such an acquisition (according to Abraaj's website) is 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 souq.com which will benefit from leveraging the large community network."
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.
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 Souq.com to develop and reach a $1 billion valuation.
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).
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