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maktoob.com declares profitability

Top online Arab community believes Internet model works in Arab world

DUBAI: In an era of dotcom crashes worldwide, the Arab world’s most popular and well-known online destination has cause for celebration!

Maktoob.com reported yesterday that it had achieved profitability for the year 2003, well ahead of its competitors, and will grow its revenue and profit in the years to come. A top official of the company said that Maktoob.com’s excellent performance was a victory of sorts for the Internet community in the Arab world and hoped that it would bolster the efforts of existing Internet players in the region to push forward with their strategies.

Founded in November 1998, Maktoob.com (www.maktoob.com) has revolutionized Internet culture in the Middle East by pushing the creative boundaries in which the Web can be applied for communications. In just few years of operation, Maktoob.com has become a success story of sorts in the Arab world’s online media industry.

“While the economy has certainly been sluggish worldwide last year, three major factors contributed to helping us reach our goal of achieving profitability by the end of 2003,” explained Samih Toukan, CEO of Maktoob.com. “Firstly, we have a proven business model that creates substantial value for our clients. Secondly, despite the economic downturn, we were able to retain key clients and add new ones such as Nokia, Pepsi, Twix and American Express among many others. Finally, we have always remained committed to ensuring that our spending remains in line with our growth forecast.”

Beginning with offering web-based bilingual email, the company has diversified towards offering innovative and new solutions in the community and e-commerce areas. These include mobile services, news and content, email, chat, auction, but the latest product is the CashU card which is a prepaid card for online shopping that is proving to be popular due to its ability to offer a secure and convenient e-commerce solution (cashU.com) .

Pursuing its strategic objectives, Maktoob.com has always put increasing emphasis on services where added value is created from competence and human resources in the first place, Toukan added. “One of the key factors for our success is that we have always introduced services in a phased manner,” he stated. “These services were launched after a careful and focused scrutiny of international market trends as well as understanding the demands of our users and clients.”

Commenting about the business scenario for online media companies in the Middle East, Toukan pointed out that garnering trust and building a strong brand on the market was a critical step in successfully managing a business model. Relying on its financial stability, the experience gained so far and its professional activities, Maktoob.com has proved that it is capable of gaining trust, he added.

“By being able to develop tailored solutions in-house, Maktoob.com has shown that the Arab world has gained the necessary know-how and technology to fulfill the demands of the international Internet market,” he said.

Speaking about Maktoob.com’s performance in the past year, Toukan said that while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf traditionally remained its biggest markets, Maktoob.com was rapidly gaining firm ground in Morocco, Algeria and North Africa.

Toukan also voiced his optimism over being able to play a large role in Iraq as the war-plagued country attempts to return to normalcy. Maktoob.com recently launched the biggest Internet cafe in Iraq, in the Al Mansoor locality of Baghdad. He added that Maktoob.com’s full bouquet of services will soon be available to Iraq’s residents.

“Maktoob.com remains steadfast in its commitment to spread Internet culture throughout the Middle East and encourage Arabs to explore the potential of this medium,” Toukan said. “Iraq is one such challenge and we are confident that its residents can experience the full potential of the Internet and interact with their counterparts in the rest of the world.”

About Maktoob.com

Maktoob.com (www.maktoob.com) has become a landmark development for the Arab world, emphasising the region’s growing importance as a major international IT player. Since its launch five years ago, Maktoob.com has played a crucial role in uniting Arabs worldwide by providing sophisticated and reliable web-based communications and community tools, including the Arab world’s first free bilingual (Arabic / English) Web-based email service.

Maktoob.com is the first Arabic / English web-based email solutions provider and leading virtual community for Arabs around the world. Launched in October 1998, Maktoob.com gained instant success among Arabs around the world. It currently boasts of a membership base of more than 3.5 million registered users worldwide. Besides the free email service, the company offers a range of interactive web-based facilities including mobile services, news and content, email, chat, auction, electronic cards and many other community, communication and commerce tools.

Amman,02 02 2004
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