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Launch day approaches for region’s new papers

This is the team that, in just a fortnight’s time, is aiming to shake up the Middle East media scene.

This is the team that, in just a fortnight’s time, is aiming to shake up the Middle East media scene.

Campaign Middle East can reveal that the UAE’s two new newspapers will hit the streets in the week beginning 18 September, priced at AED2 (US$0.5)

The English language paper has the working title of Emirates Mail, while the Arabic edition is provisionally called Emirate, but senior managers at publisher Awraq Publishing said that no final decision on what they will ultimately be called has yet been made.

Both 48-page newspapers will put out editions seven days a week, with a female-targeted A4-sized glossy supplement on Fridays. The English supplement will be called etc with the Arabic being called Hala.

Commercial director Gavin Dickinson, pictured above with the newspapers’ senior commercial team, said the initial print run for the English title will be 85,000, with a further 10,000 being distributed across other GCC states. The Arabic edition will have a run of 100,000, with 15,000 going outside the UAE. They will be printed on the Al Bayan newspaper presses in Dubai.

The papers are being produced by the newly created Arab Media Group, which includes the Arabian Radio Network, Dubai Radio Network and Awraq Publishing.

For the first three months following the launch the titles will be distributed free to selected apartments, villas, offices and shopping centres across the country, as well as being sold through retail outlets such as Spinneys and Books Plus. An aggressive subscription drive will then follow.

Dickinson claimed the response from advertisers to dummies of the newspapers had been “sensational”, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of ad space already booked. He claimed that demand has been so strong that pagination may have to increase to 64 pages before the end of the year, well ahead of the publisher’s initial plans.

Although declining to give details of sales targets for this year, Dickinson claimed he was looking to achieve revenues of around US$45 million in 2006.

“The world has changed,” said Dickinson. “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. We have invested a lot of money in this, and we will make it a success.

“Dubai has led the way in some areas but follows in others. We have some of the most amazing hotels and shopping centres but newspapers are still behind the curve.”

Referring to the international trend for broadsheets to move to compact size, Dickinson said: “The next phase of global publishing is compact.”

And he confirmed the newspapers would be independently audited, most likely by BPA Worldwide.

“There is no question we will be audited. The quicker the better in terms of commercial, but I think I need a year first.”
The commercial director said that advertisements would be carefully placed and no advert would ever go on the outside back cover in order to “let the reader win”.

A multi-platform advertising and promotional campaign created by TBWA\ RAAD will support the launch and will include television, radio and cinema.

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