Arabic-language Internet is coming of age

Yahoo’s acquisition of Maktoob.com this year encourages start-ups and investors to work on online content and services for the world’s 300 million Arabic speakers.When Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury started Maktoob.com as an Arabic e-mail service 10 years ago, they had a modest office in Amman, Jordan, and little support from friends and family who could not imagine anyone using the Internet in Arabic.”We were a typical start-up; I remember the day we got air conditioning we had a party,” Toukan recalled.In August, Yahoo Inc. acquired Maktoob, now the largest Arabic portal, for a reported $80 million — a milestone in the evolution of the Arabic Internet.”When we started, there were barely a few thousand users,” Toukan said. “Today we can say that the Internet has become a form of mass media with 50 to 60 million [Arabic speakers] online.”To read this report in The Los Angeles Times in full, see:
www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-arabic-internet26-2009dec26,0,1920208.story

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