Yahoo will introduce a mobile website tailored for the Middle East in June to exploit the region’s booming smartphone market, according to The National.
Internet users in the Arab world who currently browse Yahoo are redirected to US or UK mobile sites. However, with the new localised front page, Middle East content – such as text or video based news, entertainment and sport - will be presented in Arabic as well as English and supported locally.
"Via mobile devices, our users will be able to connect to the latest news and sports … from the UAE or Egypt or Saudi, with relevant content," Ahmed Nassef, the vice president and managing director of Yahoo Middle East told the Abu Dhabi newspaper.
"This is going to be much more relevant to what people here are looking for," added Mr Nassef.
The move follows the acquisition of Middle East web portal Maktoob in 2009 by Yahoo, in order to ensure more localised web content on its internet site. The purchase, which cost US$164 million, has since resulted in the Yahoo Maktoob portal for PC users.
Now Yahoo’s sights are set on web browsers on the move. Global smartphone shipments are expected to grow 25% per annum to reach 926 million in 2015, according to International Data Corporation. An estimated 1.7 million smartphones were shipped to the United Arab Emirates alone in 2010, a jump of 46% on the previous year’s figure.
"We're just at the very early stage of growth of smartphones in this region. You'll have millions of people that are going to be accessing the internet via [smartphones] rather than via PC," Mr Nassef told The National.
He said over four million users in the Middle East and North Africa currently access Yahoo via mobile devices, and the US company expects this to rise substantially with the launch of its Arabic site and the growing use of smartphones in the region.