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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Middle East: Two new compact newspapers to "shake up the Middle East media scene"

Two new newspapers, wanting to "shake up the Middle East media scene", will hit the streets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week, reports Campaign Middle East. One of the papers will be in English language and the other in Arab. Working titles of the papers are Emirates Mail for the English and Emirate for the Arab edition. Both papers plan to have 48 pages, appear in compact format from Monday to Sunday and will cost AED2 (US$0.5). On Fridays they will include a A4-sized glossy supplement targeted at women. The papers, printed in Dubai, will start with a print run of 115,000 for the Arab edition of which 15,000 will be distributed outside the UAE and 95,000 copies for the English edition of which 15,000 will go to other GCC states. The papers are produced by the recently created Arab Media Group, which includes the Dubai Radio Network, the Arabian Radio Network and Awraq Publishing.

Commercial director Gavin Dickinson told Campaign Middle East that responses from advertisers to dummies of the papers have been "sensational". He said: "The world has changed. Publishing is smarter, more meaningful and compact. It has to fight harder to be in people’s lives. Our mantra is ‘compact and compelling’. We do not believe that the media in the region has changed to reflect modern standards."

Jason Leavy and Sami Al Reyami, the editors of the two editions, "are promising readers a fresh approach to how news is delivered in the country and claim they will 'push the boundaries' in what is reported." The papers plan, for example, to have a strong human interest agenda, which the editors think is lacking in existing newspapers in the region.

Jason Leavy, editor of the English edition, said on Campaign Middle East : "The problem with existing newspapers is the lack of focus. They attempt to be all things to all people. The consequence is they are very little to anyone.? The English edition will target western expatriates, people from the Indian subcontinent and educated Arab speakers.

Sami Al Reyami, responsible for the Arab edition said: "Our target audience is the 60% of people under 45 that live in the UAE. I think there will be some problems with the other 40% who, for a long time, have been reading broadsheet newspapers. Many of our target audience have studied abroad and are aware of what compact-sized newspapers are ... But it is not important about the size or format of the paper, it is the material and content within it that counts."

Although the situation of press freedom in the UAE is improving, journalists are still practicing self-censorship. Regarding this critical issue of press freedom, Leavy told that the paper will be "vociferous in its reporting" but in a ?responsible manner". He said: "The last two years have shown that there is greater press freedom, which is clear from speeches that have been made from officials. ... We are committed to pushing the boundaries but, at this point, I can?t tell you where those boundaries lie.?

The new papers will enter a newspaper market that is already crowded. As Ameinfo reports the "publication of a new daily rival to Gulf News and the Khaleej Times is one of the most keenly anticipated local media events."

Sources: Campaign Middle East (September 4), Campaign Middle East (September 11), Ameinfo

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on September 15, 2005 at 12:21 PM | Permalink


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Friday's Emirates Today carreid an house advertisement claiming it's "The first e-Paper in the Middle East."
The first epaper in the ME is The Oman Times, published from Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman. Both epapers are incidentally hosted by Bothtree, based in Hyderabad, India.
Bodhtree also hosts India's Hindustan Times, one of the big dailies.
Coming to editorial content in Emirates Today, I notice that some of the sports reports from outside Dubai and the Middle East carry bylines of staff writers.
I haven't seen any editorial copy credited to any known news agencies. Nor have I seen the world news stories credited to any global newspapers, as others in Dubai do, under special arrangment or "courtesy", the latter used by The Emirates Evening Post.
In Friday's issue The Emirates Today carries a women's magazine, Etc. Why the paper is bringing a free supplement exclusively for women instead of one that would cater to the general public can be understood in the paper's claim that it has appointed special editors to deal with women's issues.
The paper promises to do more, probably meaning to publish more titles. So, one can expect a magazine exclusively for males.

Posted by: Gene Correia at Sep 23, 2005 10:37:20 AM

The new paper has been named Emirates Today.
Today's issue carries a piece by editor Jason Leavy. It's more of an viewpoint than an editorial.
He seems to have started right off the bat by a piece that seems appeasing to the Arab community. He attacked his own English expat community from among the larger expat community.
How well this piece goes down with the Jumeirah Janes (as the English ladies are called because of their affluent lifestyles in an upscale area of Dubai) and English men, who he calls "lager louts" is hard to say.
Nothing earthshaking about the paper. One of my friends said he would still prefer to pay Dirham 1 for The Emirates Evening Post. The price of Emirates Today is Dirhams 2, but right now given away free.
Gulf News, and Khaleef Times, the two other dailies, cost Dirhams 2, while the other daily tabloid, 7Days, is free.
One has to wait and see how the battles shapes up.

Posted by: Gene at Sep 22, 2005 1:34:40 PM

I expected a lot more from these two publications.

Given what the Guardian has just done I suspected that the UAE market would be in for a significant shakeup.

After two days of the new kids on the block I am still waiting to read something better than is already out there.

Today’s cover story about workers marching because of unpaid wages didn’t go anywhere near naming the company involved, too bad, this was a chance to be fearless, objective and set a precedent as a state funded media body.

Posted by: James Piecowye at Sep 20, 2005 5:27:26 PM