Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) is buying Maktoob, an online community reaching 16.5 million unique Arab visitors.

It may not seem like a huge audience, but that's only because the Internet is still new to many people in Middle Eastern markets such as United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. There are 320 million Arabic speakers in the world, according to World Bank, and Maktoob reaches a third of those who are online.

Yahoo! is buying in early, the way it has with Yahoo! Japan, China's Alibaba, and South Korea's Gmarket before eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) acquired the Korean online marketplace.

It's a strategy that has paid off. Yahoo!'s Asian investments alone were valued at more than $10 a share early last year, before the global markets began to wobble.

This is a fair approach. Yahoo! isn't going to be the top dog. It's not Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) globally. It will never beat Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) in China. Even Yahoo!'s position in paid search will diminish when it hands over those keys to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) next year.

However, Yahoo!'s strengths are in display advertising, and that's something that's best served in volume. Stamping its passport in global markets before Google and Microsoft crash the party is huge. You can't fall behind if you're one step ahead of everybody else.

Yahoo! and Maktoob aren't revealing the terms of the deal, though PaidContent.org is pegging the value from $75 million to $80 million. For a company with billions in the bank, it's a small cover charge that is certainly worth paying if you're Yahoo!

The world according to Yahoo!:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wants to visit Dubai in a few years, mostly for all of the amazing amusement parks opening up there. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.