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14 September, 2005

What will the papers say?

What sort of an impact will Dubai's new newspaper, the Emirates Today, owned by Dubai Holding Group, have on existing English-language newspapers? There are currently five daily papers in the UAE:

1. Gulf News
Among western expats, Gulf News (circulation 91,000), owned by Al Nisr Publishing, is generally the best-regarded of the broadsheets. Over the past couple of years it has dramatically improved its content, quality, design and online version (300,000 hits per day). But in recent months some patchiness has crept back, perhaps due to staff being poached by the new paper. Gulf News arguably faces the toughest competition from the new Dubai paper, as its audience profile and content at this stage seem likely to be the most similar to it. Interestingly, Gulf News used to be a tabloid when founded in 1978, but was relaunched as a broadsheet in 1985.

2. Khaleej Times
The Khaleej Times (circulation 72,000), owned by Galadari Printing & Publishing, claims the highest readership (450,000) in the UAE and enjoys strongest popularity among subcontinental expats, the majority population here. It has a few very good journalists and is rated for its business pages, but its general level of writing and reporting is abysmal, not just in the level of grammar and accuracy, but also in basic journalism such as story content, story structure, tone and style.

3. 7Days
7Days (circulation 65,000) started out as a weekly, and is now a six-daily with no Saturday edition. A free tabloid, it has taken a different, quick-read approach to news, and is often described as a trailblazer, pushing boundaries with certain somewhat controversial stories. Its letters pages are some of the most heated and extensive in the UAE. Very much western-expat targeted, the paper syndicates a great deal from overseas, and has a strong lifestyle element in its content, giving a more magazine feel.

4. Gulf Today
The Gulf Today (circulation 36,000) is a broadsheet, started by Arabic daily Al Khaleej, with a generally quieter profile and smaller circulation than Gulf News or Khaleej Times. It covers local, international and regional news, but is not widely read at least among western expats.

5. Emirates Evening Post
The broadsheet Emirates Evening Post (print-run 28,000) is the youngest of the existing newspapers, published by Press Centre & Art Productions. It is the region's first afternoon daily newspaper, but has suffered from poor distribution. Targeted readership is most probably the UAE's subcontinental expat population.



Blogger The Devil's Advocate said...

I highly doubt the new paper is going to be objective. The fact that it's owned by the same people who are directly responsible and benefitting from the boom in Dubai causes alarm for me. Sound like another promotions and publicity exercise to me. The simple question is: Why do we need another paper? IT's not like in other countries were you might have a conservative paper, a liberal paper, a communist/socialist paper etc etc each putting politics based spin on the all the papers basically reprint stories taken off the wire...the only thing different are the choice of stories. The local news items, considering the miniscule population and the generally safe environment are undeserving of so much coverage...

Is Dubai Holdings getting greedy?

We'll wait and see.

14 September, 2005 15:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

QUITE cool u did your homework great.Why does the khaleej times take the '...your favourite no.1 newspaper' tag on their front page if they are really no.2? to be relaged in the near future to 3?

14 September, 2005 15:43  
Blogger moryarti said...

According to an editor i know who works there, the new paper will take a "daring approach" towards current local issues.

Surprisingly, it seems that they will have some space to touch upon what other newspapers don't approach due to self imposed censorship.

I am not sure if that'll work or not, but I guess someone on the paper's board thinks thats the way to go ...

I also know that the new newspaper should be out sometime next week - (19th) If i am not mistaken -

we'll see.

14 September, 2005 16:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the editor of the new paper will be able to publish a letters page that does not include snidey little comments written after letters he doesn't agree with. I generally like the Gulf News but this habit drives me crazy.

14 September, 2005 16:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, sd, can u confirm that as the name? i've always suspected emirates mail was a red herring

14 September, 2005 16:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ishtara,

I have an urgent message which I must use your blog to highlight. This is not a joke. A young girl is about to die in Saudi Arabia for killing her attempted rapist. Anyone who reads this please spread the word. Please help her stay alive. She does not have much time.

Clock Is Ticking for Khamis Girl
Arab News
ABHA, 13 September 2005 — Time is running out for the woman known as the Khamis Mushayt Girl as she moves ever closer to execution.The woman was convicted of murdering a man while trying to fend off a forcible rape. Repeated efforts to sway the family of the murder victim to grant her pardon have failed, Al-Madinah newspaper reported.The condemned woman has gained the sympathy of millions of people across the Kingdom. The website covering the case has recorded more than six million hits so far.Maj. Saud Al-Otaibi, director of Abha prison, said the girl has spent six years wondering whether her fate will be pardon or death. Lately she has become isolated, extremely depressed and her physical condition is deteriorating, Al-Otaibi said. An air of optimism for both guards and inmates that the latest efforts might secure her pardon had now turned to one of disappointment as her execution looms.A human rights group interfered on her behalf, but its efforts failed. Although forcible rape is universally condemned, some find it ironic that defending against it apparently results in similar condemnation here.The supervisor of the girl’s website, Waleed Abumelha, said her date of execution has not been set and that efforts to save her will continue to the last minute. The clock is ticking§ion=0&article=69962&d=13&m=9&y=2005

Please help by sending to any one who can help. She has very little time left

14 September, 2005 17:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new paper is already working out its sponsorship deals for local events.

14 September, 2005 17:15  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Anonymous - I have read of her terrible plight. The Religious Policeman has also been running much coverage on it.

Knowing how things work here I doubt there is much I can do, but if there are any petitions or anything I would be extremely happy to sign.

14 September, 2005 17:40  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Anonymous - there is also this site relating to her case - sadly it's in Arabic so I can't understand it, but perhaps Arab visitors here will?

14 September, 2005 17:42  
Blogger 1Desi said...

Dubai Holdings has done pretty well with their multi-lingual radio stations i.m.o.

It would be good to finally see the old timer papers get kicked about by some fresh competition- ie. better english, better content (no more ridiculous 3 column long editor's comments on the front page) and more original material. With the financial and political clout that Dubai Holdings carries, I'm pretty sure the paper will be put out in a proper manner (unlike the evening post, etc.) and give the oldies a run for their money.

Im up for renewal... guess I'll wait!

14 September, 2005 17:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the new paper is a way of reducing advertising costs on Dubai Holding projects. I am sure they have handed over a fair amount of dollars to the the existing papers, this is one way of reducing the costs.

14 September, 2005 18:10  
Blogger Keef said...

Evening post? Never seen it!

14 September, 2005 18:49  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I've seen it twice. Once in the lobby of Emirates Towers, once at a press conference (where I believe a journalist from it had brought an armful along, but I may be wrong).

14 September, 2005 18:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been several points to ponder. First of them is how objective can a newspaper be when its owned by a country leader?

Second is how can we possibly expect the content and layout be better if the new paper's staff is going to consist of people poached from existing publications (i.e. Gulf News and some lifestyle mags)?

Third is if Dubai Holdings has any other objective other than monopolize the market?

Hmmm...I'm sure there are more...

14 September, 2005 19:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well....I read 7 days when i feel like some 'trashy' reading, although they have some nice business articles and good stock advice. Gulf news, hmmmm, I read that to keep them in business (I like Obaid Al Tayer)..and all the rest are a waste of paper in MHO. I prefer to read the news and some decent well written articles. Letters to the editor are annoying and will only raise your blood pressure. Gossip belongs in glossy magazines. Newspapers should offer us just that - NEWS.

15 September, 2005 00:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear, very 'Aqoulish you know.

By the way, did you get my email?

15 September, 2005 01:58  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I did and I replied, but I will forward it to you again.

15 September, 2005 02:15  
Blogger marwan said...

SD - from my contacts at GN, it appears Emirates Today was started soley to start a 'newspaper war' with the existing broadsheets. The aim was to shake up the status quo, nicking the best journos to create a 'bestof' paper - and furthermore, carve out a slice of this pie for Dubai Holdings, which likes its fingers in all Dubai bakeries.

15 September, 2005 03:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting that comments comparing UAE publications with those overseas imply that there is much more freedom of press in democratic countries than actually exists. In our so called democracies most newspaper proprioters are not only affiliated to policial parties but also to big business. Big business is thus controlling the media. This is a sinister trend since we cannot vote for those in control of big business. Product placement and mis-information which aids large conglomerates is becoming an alarming norm in many British publications.

15 September, 2005 09:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

British broadsheets and tabloids are not the standard. In fact, when it comes to objectivity, UK papers have always been at the bottom of the rankings. What the UAE needs is something more akin to The Economist magazine. It has objective news, plus in-depth reports by good journalists who are based all over the world and some excellent writing to top it off.

15 September, 2005 10:26  
Blogger black feline said...

i think the alternative trash mags are more them\; OK, Alhan or izit Ahlan!..whatever..then u have the bollywood Masala..very juicy indeed for a hot day in surprise SecretDubai..they are not on your list..come on!

15 September, 2005 12:04  
Blogger secretdubai said...

This was just reviewing the newspapers. I will have to do the magazines at a future time!

15 September, 2005 12:06  
Blogger said...

There is no such thing as true objectivity in the British press...and dear The Economist may be a good read but its not entirely 'objective'. Anyones best bet when picking something to read, is to just determine what side of the fence you sit (left or right) and then nurture it ;-)... I like the Independant :-)

15 September, 2005 12:36  
Blogger black feline said...

the papers huh? love them too...especially the thick volumes of ads...etc excellent for wrapping! And my laundry man Mohamad just love them too! u know for every shirt washed by him..for 1 dhm..he ironed it as well..and get this...he will fold it like in the departmental store..and with a piece of cut out newspapers..inserted it in between..just like a new shirt! so professional! I wept when i received it for the first time..

15 September, 2005 12:46  
Blogger desertblog said...

Can't believe I was considering writing about the different papers and tabloids already in circulation and coming out, and then I visited your blog and noticed you'd just done one! Perhaps it's something psychic..

15 September, 2005 12:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i never read any local magazines or newspapers. there is nothing worthwhile in them and most of the stuff in magazines is syndicated from international mags

15 September, 2005 12:50  
Blogger secretdubai said...

desert blogger - brilliant! Do go ahead, then we will be able to compare notes.

15 September, 2005 12:57  
Blogger pixelsonic said...

I don't doubt that Emirates Today will turn out to be very well written and somewhat provocative by local standards (woudn't be too difficult after all) but I don't see it ever being utterly as opposed to relatively objective.

It will be a great PR vehicle for selling a fundamentally utopian view of Dubai (with just enough spice to make it palatable) and, as a previous poster very bluntly pointed out, a really good way to save on full page ad expenditure at 10 - 20k a pop.

15 September, 2005 22:22  
Blogger Mr Smith said...

Also posted on Sept 14th

so we have 3 bloggers reporting probably exact same text !

15 September, 2005 23:18  
Blogger secretdubai said...

No - that last one's me - I occasionally cross-post there.

15 September, 2005 23:49  
Blogger GCCBee said...

SD, not related to UAE press but had to share this with you, from NY Post's gossip column 'Page Six':

JUST when you think it’s safe to go back in the water, Michael Jackson is spotted flopping around a Persian water park in a skintight, white Lycra body suit. Ex-Postie Primrose Skelton, now based in Dubai, says Jacko rented out the entire Wild Wadi park in that sheikdom recently, inviting parents and their children to enjoy the slides and water chutes. Despite only his eyes, nose and mouth being visible under the suit, Jackson spent most of his time in the shade. “He looked even stranger than usual. His body is very skinny, and the Lycra material did him no favors,” said a lifeguard.

Did anyone witness this vision?

16 September, 2005 00:05  
Blogger secretdubai said...

"a Persian water park"

My fking god. How much more witless can Americans get about the rest of the world?

16 September, 2005 01:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bet the sight of little boys in swimming costumes warmed his pervy now Sicko Jacko gets to enjoy this place..can't he just keep away from children for his own good...perhaps Emaar or Nakheel can build him his own little island, and he can play with himself there for the good of all.

16 September, 2005 17:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai holding, like any other business conglomerate is out to make a profit. If they can convince readers their paper is worthy of picking up at the news stand then I think they have a chance of trickling in more dirhams in that bottomless money pit they're trying to fill. Good luck Dubai holding. Just make sure the web version of your paper is as good or better that Gulf News.

16 September, 2005 18:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, like it or not, the gulf is Persian and not Arabian. It only became Arabian recently and does not pay tribute to the fact that the Persians ruled the gulf long before the Arabs knew anything about anything.

It's very arrogant to think the gulf is 'Arabian'.

17 September, 2005 09:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans are not "witless" about the rest of the world ! They just don't give a flying F#@K about it! Got it SDD ?

17 September, 2005 10:43  
Blogger secretdubai said...

They just don't give a flying F#@K about it!

That's even worse. No wonder so many people hate your country.

17 September, 2005 10:46  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Well, like it or not, the gulf is Persian and not Arabian.

Regardless of whatever historical name should be used for the body of water that is the Gulf, there is no way you can argue that the UAE should be described as Persian. In terms of its most ancient history, it is Arabian. In terms of its most modern history, it is Arabian.

The water in that park may be from the "Persian" gulf - but it is pretty Arabian-desalinated-treated-chilled ;)

17 September, 2005 10:50  
Blogger black feline said...


you are lucky...some pigeon brained twigs from the BIG NATION thought we live in tree houses..

17 September, 2005 12:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The story of the Wild Wadi all began with a cool dude called Juha and his brave friend Sindbad..."

Err... maybe the NY times was refering to the park having a Persian theme?!

17 September, 2005 15:19  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Err... maybe the NY times was refering to the park having a Persian theme?!

I guess it's possible... we'll be generous and give them the benefit of the doubt this one time. It's usually one of the more informed US papers ;)

17 September, 2005 15:51  
Blogger black feline said...

Emirates Today is quite a it..slim and sexy..hope they keep it that way..

19 September, 2005 12:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last! Something to line the birdcage with...slim and sexy, eh? My bare hairy bottom! Oh dear, oh dear, where do I begin?

First off, if I hadn't been reading all the hype I would of thought it wuz the Gulf Today tabloid supplement from a year least their body (text) type would be of a readable size...not 8 point Plantin...

Can you believe it took 53 people to bring out this paragon of journalistic excellence? 7DAYS could probably do it with less than 10...(I'm assuming)...

More observations on yesterday's launch issue:

(Read in tandem with their bold claims on page 22)

Neither fresh, dynamic nor stylish. Appallingly dated and boring standards of design and layout...the copy I have is mostly printed out-of-register, leaving all the colour pics looking blurry and washed out...(what would you expect from Al Bayan Press?)

Certainly not an incentive to change from the mainline far as "real news" is concerned, it's no better than 7DAYS; but then 7DAYS never claimed or pretended to be an alternative to the least their type and layout, tho no great shakes, looks slightly more clean and appealing...and it's far more compact than ET..."according to our research," says ET, "broadsheets are dying..." Not if you bring out newspapers like this one, mate...that'll be a long time coming...

I won't talk about the choice of headline story since I've already referred to "real news"...but overall the glazed newsprint and uninspired masthead seem to top off the "ultimate publishing disaster"...

...and they have the unmitigated gall to say "Welcome to the revolution..." We ain neva seen no revolutions in this part of the world, mes cheries...not just yet...

20 September, 2005 09:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey what about Khaleej Times online???...I think it's much better than Gulf news online...atleast it's updated timely and It dosen't have the hick-up's that the paper has!

20 September, 2005 10:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.....erm, only gives us the hiccups.....

..tokkin of da great dubai media much time dya guyz give Emirates Evening Post....shouldn't they be callin da Make a Wish Foundation....with BV gone theyz basickly up da creek....not that havin im around wuz any better....about a month ago (when DSS wuz still on) their front-page main headline for the day wuz--hold yer breath--"Shop Till You Drop"......I mean like nuttin much wuz happnin anywhere else in dis eva-lovin world....what's an evenin paper for after all....

20 September, 2005 12:48  
Blogger moryarti said...

I totally agree elcondo .. i tired to look for something significantly different about ET, nothing... even the paper ET uses is lousy for windows cleaning! :)

20 September, 2005 16:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ho? Their website's even better.

Try gettin past page 1.

20 September, 2005 17:16  

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