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Wed 2 Jun 2010 02:11 PM

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Dubai's Dubizzle eyes major Mideast growth

EXCLUSIVE: Online advertising firm set to roll out 15 new sites by end of 2010.

Dubai's Dubizzle eyes major Mideast growth

Dubizzle, the UAE’s largest classified website, has unveiled plans to roll out 15 cloned sites across the Arab world by the end of 2010.

The Dubai-based start-up, which attracts around 2.5 million visitors and 34 million page views a month, is in the final stages of building an Arabic-language site to pave the way for its regional expansion.

“[Dubizzle will be] everywhere from Casablanca to Muscat,” said Dubizzle co-founder JC Butler. “In every capital Arab city and, in some countries such as Saudi, in Riyadh and Jeddah, and in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt. Our goal is to be in 15 new cities by the end of the year.

“The only countries we won’t be in are Iraq, Yemen and Sudan – but our goal eventually is to be everywhere. It’s a natural progression [because] the population is huge and switched on.”

Founded in Dubai in 2005, Dubizzle is one of the UAE’s most successful internet start-ups. In the last three years, Q1 visits to the site have grown by 200 percent, 202 percent and 169 percent respectively, said Butler.

Less than a year after the launch of the Abu Dhabi site, 19 percent of the traffic generated by the UAE's two key cities comes from the capital.

“It has been phenomenal growth in Abu Dhabi, much quicker than we ever saw in Dubai.”

Dubizzle’s first targets will be Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the region’s most populous countries.

The aim is to transform Dubizzle into the Arab world’s largest online classifieds service, said co-founder Sim Whatley.

According to Google data, the number of internet users in the Arab World has rocketed from 16.5m in 2004 to 56m, as of April 2010; a 228 percent increase.

“Classifieds is a done deal once you have major market share – the kind we have in Dubai. Once that happens, it’s very difficult to topple it because it’s a natural monopoly. It’s that chicken and egg problem – people go where the listings are, but the listings go where the people are.

“There are a number of existing players, but none with that kind of dominance.”

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MattUK 10 years ago

Well done these two guys. Are they British?

gordon robertson 10 years ago

can't beat a success story..so hats off to them

UncleSAm 10 years ago

This has American ingenuity written all over it

Joe E. 10 years ago

Actually Sim and JC are Yanks

J.C. Butler 10 years ago

Thanks for the nice comments guys. I actually wanted to just follow up on that last quote of the article about online classifieds being a natural monopoly. It might have made us come off a bit conceited which wasn't the point of the comment at all. The context was more talking about entering into new markets, and how first-to-market can be quite important due to the fact that once a competitor has strong #1 market share, they become extremely difficult to topple. We are by no means complacent as to our market share here in the UAE, and we are constantly gathering user feedback and working to improve the site so as to always keep it relevant and increasingly useful to our users.

Adam 10 years ago

I don't think you sound conceited at all. Dubizzle is the site that I and everyone I know goes to, when they need to buy or sell something. What you're saying is true - you are the biggest in the market and when you have that size, it sort of becomes an essential website. (Look at Craigslist.) Dubizzle is a proper community site. still, it's a nice personal touch that you've come on to comment - you don't see that from other companies... good luck with the growth plan. Will look forward to reading about it.

David 10 years ago

I agree- not conceited. You are the biggest. But it is interesting - no disrespect to the guys - that so few other classifieds sites have come up. There are loads in the UK and US (though usually one giant one that gets the bulk of traffic). Interesting that we haven't really seen that here.

cool dude 10 years ago

Agree Dubizzle is a great web site but c'mon guys, speed it up as it is slowere than molasses at times. And no, it is not because of my internet connection speed as it is the fastest connection Etisalt offers and I don't have the same problem with others sites like EBay, Amazon etc.

Angelica 10 years ago

In addition to 'cool dude''s comment, you seriously need to look into the platform you are using since Dubizzle currently ranks rather low in terms of user experience. Great product, but please invest more into programming as this is the point that can either make it or break it. You also might want to add the 'enter additional message' feature when forwarding adverts to friends - again another user experience point to note that can make a world of difference. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration to many aspiring webpreneurs in the region :)

Naveen Shetty 10 years ago

Dubizzle is a great site specially for expats who have just moved to UAE.We have got most of our home stuff from the website thanks to the efforts of these gentlemen to put this nice site. Oflate there are increase in free ads where people ask for favours, free stuff etc. which should not be allowed. Otherwise it Rocks.