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Ahlan! vs Insider

They’re frivolous, picture-heavy and unabashedly superficial, but what else do you expect from celebrity magazines? Both cater to the same market, only one can win Kipp’s ‘Battle of the Brazenly Shallow Magazine’. Oh, the drama!


General information

Ahlan! was launched by ITP in 2003, the first homegrown English language celebrity weekly in the Middle East. According to its website, the Ahlan! is the region’s biggest selling celebrity weekly.

There are three versions of Ahlan! English, Ahlan! Masala, also in English, Ahlan! Arabic.

Every year Ahlan! publishes its Hot 100, a list of Dubai’s most influential people.

Oh dear. Score: 8

Front covers

Like every other celebrity magazine we’ve seen, Ahlan’s covers are a frenetic compilation of photos of celebrities taking dramatic poses, accompanied by ‘statements’ made by ‘inside sources’ and ‘close friends’. It’s a formula that seems to work.  Why? Because you’d be hard pressed to meet a woman that hasn’t bought a copy of Ahlan! after seeing a picture of Angelina Jolie looking pouty on the cover, accompanied by a massive, hot pink quote under her photo saying ‘Brad, you’re out!’. That’s why.

It’s a bizarre science. Score: 8

Local content

The temptation to write about Hollywood celebrities is strong. They’re rich, they’re in big budget movies, and often times, they’re better looking than our local varieties. However, Ahlan! is based in the Middle East, which ought to give it a head’s start on local celebrity news.

Unfortunately, we didn’t find many local stories in this week’s issue. There were only a few pages filled of photographs of people at the Dubai World Cup, the Coldplay concert and two parties we weren’t invited to. Where’s the editorial? Score: 3

Celebrity fix

What is it about celebrities and their ridiculous lives that make them so interesting? Their failed relationships (Jennifer Lopez, aka JLo), their miserable careers (Lindsay Lohan, who’s love life is equally enthralling) and their over-the-type fashion sense (which most women copy) intrigue women the world over, like rubberneckers to Dubai’s road accidents.

If anything, Ahlan! provides just enough information on celebrities to tie you over for the week. There’s nothing concrete in the texts; aside from a handful of interviews, most of the articles are based on obscure sources and ‘insiders’. But who said anything about accuracy? This is entertainment. Score: 9

Final score: 28


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