Arabic sports website Kooora was the Middle East and Africa’s most visited website in April, attracting 1.57 million unique visitors daily according to traffic analyst Effective Measure, compared with 1.13 million for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and 650,364 for the Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC).

The football-led platform began as a hobby for Bahrain sports fan Khalid Aldoseri 12 years ago, but quickly became incorporated under parent firm NetiZen, and relocated to Dubai from Bahrain in 2012 as part of an expansion plan that will see the company double its staff to about 80 by 2015.

“For a long time Kooora was a one-man show, I was doing all the coding, management, everything. Over the last five years it’s changed into a fully-fledged enterprise,” Aldoseri told Reuters.

“We’re at the forefront — we know our audience, we know Arabs, how they interact, what they are looking for — and we’re challenging the dominance of broadcast.”

April and May are Kooora’s peak months as the major European leagues and the Champions League reach their climax. In September, Kooora was placed third behind MSN Arabia and MBC in the Effective Measure rankings, attracting 1.28 million daily visitors during the summer lull.

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While football accounts for 80% of traffic on the site, tennis also draws 10% and Kooora covers 40 sports in total with 25 reporters across Europe, Canada and the Arab world, as well as 400 volunteers moderating user-generated content and a statistics database with a million entries back to 1901.

“Most of international and corporate clients are in Dubai, but 75% of their advertising activities are catering for Saudi Arabia,” continued Aldoseri. “It’s not necessarily related to sports: it’s mostly consumer products to cover the male segment, from youth to old people.”

Saudi Arabia is Kooora’s most important market, and accounts for around 25% of the site’s traffic, and 42% of users access Kooora on mobile devices — a relatively low percentage for regional websites, but one which is expected rise with the launch of a new mobile app.

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