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What’s going on with the UAE’s print media?

What’s going on with the UAE’s print media?

Moving online, pausing production, restructuring, cutting frequencies; the local print industry seems to be going through a tough time. Here’s what’s happening.

June 24, 2010 4:47 by

Print media in the UAE is having a tough time of it, and the result is that titles are heading for the web and publishers are paring down offerings.

On the evidence of this week, an increasingly fragmented and bloated market is being forced to better define and target its readership, and compete in the midst of a migration to digital platforms. Recent news reports have confirmed that Dubai-based publisher The Media Factory is restructuring, rival ENG Media is ceasing publication, and Emirates Business 24-7 is going online only. And Kipp has heard rumors suggesting that daily newspaper 7Days may go weekly over summer.

Traditional media in the UAE is in the midst of a transformation, it seems, and the result will hopefully be fewer, more focused publications, better targeted to clearly defined readerships.

ENG Media (behind titles including Media Week, IQ and Insider) said earlier this week it would temporarily suspend publishing of its magazines while it fights a legal battle with Fujairah Media, the freezone through which its titles are licensed. As Kipp reported, it is understood that Fujairah Media and ENG are suing each other over financial disputes.

The news followed an earlier announcement by another Dubai publisher, The Media Factory (Autocar, F1 Racing), that the company would undergo restructuring and layoffs. Details are scarce, but management has blamed “a lackluster second quarter and the anticipated lean period over the summer months” for the changes.

And you can add to these the decision by Emirates Business to scrap its paper edition. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum himself is reported to have given the order for Emirates Business to head online. “This trend is the result of the emergence of the internet being one of the most prominent channels of communication for people to get information,” Ahmad al Shaikh, the managing director of DMI (the company behind the title), said in a statement.

All told, this amounts to a slew of affected publications – everything from industry trade, to business, sports, racing, interior design, and celebrity titles.

This all seems to be the inevitable outcome of two significant factors. First and foremost, regional ad spending is posting consistent declines, particularly when it comes to print. What remains in ad budgets has more leverage than ever with media. Marketers want to put their ad dollars where they will effectively target clients, and the UAE’s print media has not always achieved this goal, owing partly to the radically diverse demographics in the country. An excess of print publications has also rendered the market overweight, and many of the titles fail to hit a narrowly defined, well-understood target audience. This failure does little to earn precious ad dollars, when marketers are unclear whether their target audience will be addressed.

The move to mobile devices as a primary source of media and information is also contributing to considerable paring in the industry. Research published earlier this month by the National Retail Federation in the US found that 41.5 percent of adults say they want a cell phone with internet access. More than half of adults between 18-34 years old report the same. With the young population in Dubai and the region, this trend is likely to be even more pronounced, and publishers know it. The young, it seems, don’t read print.

But this tighter ad spending and the drive to go digital will pare down an industry that was in need of consolidation. The last men standing will undoubtedly offer a superior product.

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  1. David on June 25, 2010 8:04 am

    you make it sound like it’s a bad thing, news are better delivered online and paper newspaper are now obsolete, who wants to wait morning time to get their news anyway?

    let’s not even talk about tree cutting and the carbon footprint associated with distribution….

  2. zouzou on June 25, 2010 1:19 pm

    Well, David all people that do not have internet in the region. or people that have such bad bandwidth that it is faster to flip through media than wait for the duopoly to open and bring cheap and fast internet.
    Lebanon is going the same route, and has banned VOIP. (kipp wrote something on it last week,
    So internet is going to take time. Kippreport should open this debate. and allow us all to vote so that government would change there ways and make it easy instead of difficult to be part of the global economy.

  3. Jabba on June 26, 2010 2:55 am

    “This trend is the result of the emergence of the internet being one of the most prominent channels of communication for people to get information,”

    No doubt about that one!

    Traditional media is struggling while the Internet is booming day by day…..snooze you loose!

  4. Mahmood Bashash on June 26, 2010 6:43 am

    It is already proved that print media has less than three years to adapt to Online delivery or should die.
    It is not a matter of decision. It is a matter of force. The power of Internet is forcing for changes and the defence against this force will not be wise.
    Internet price in rhe region is much expensive than US and UK and governments should also adopt.

  5. Shakil on June 27, 2010 8:11 am

    Interesting finding and sure yes the online viewing is more these days as rightly commented in the article but then the fact remains for my generation where a printed news paper or magazine is easy to go on with to start the computer ,boot it and wait for being on line.

  6. Miss Anne Thropic on June 28, 2010 11:06 am

    The problem is that most UAE print media is run by incompetents and ego-maniacs who would not have the same power in their home countries.

    Or they are reliant on the advice of people who are equally incompetent and their only skill is telling a boss what he wants to hear rather than what he needs to hear.

    And many are way too slow to embrace the internet too.

  7. Ronald on July 21, 2010 10:01 am

    There’s nothing wrong with the notion of Print even in 100 years. I for instance read my news online in the office because it is convenient…and free, but when I’m not on my desk, i prefer to flip through a mag or a NP to get the low down… and i enjoy it… but when it comes to breaking news and feeds online is best… and can’t wait to get an internet enabled gsm so that i can stay informed of the latest breaks while on the go.

    but in the M.E, (i work in media), the most important factor to the decline of print is the saturation of the market. there are just too many magazines and print publication for the advertising budgets to support. these budgets are spreading thinner by the day. not to mention the blatant lack of paid subscriptions and the lackadaisical and imaginary circulation numbers…

    every half wit with a bit of money thinks that it is lucrative to start a magazine, they sell their ads in Dubai, and produce their mags in Lebanon or elsewhere where it costs much less. some do make money (until their bluff is called) but the more they make money the more other sharks come to their hunting grounds, and the increase in the number of publications means the quality has declined sharply….

    not to mention that we do not have many readers in the area to support so many different mags. so it makes sense for advertisers to head outdoors, to television and the internet. but there lies the other dilemma

    even if a publication goes online it is not going to thrive financially, and that is a fact. people want to get news on the internet for FREE… and advertisers want to pay per click, and even worse criteria sometimes… and not many of us click on the ads that are on the news pages we read… catch 22 of the 21st century i think…

    people will have get more creative on how to generate money from the internet. Times just went for paid membership and rumor has it that even with their 1 pound/day and 2 pounds a week fee they lost the overwhelming majority of their daily readers…

    it’s a gloomy future, for print media globally, but for the middle east, the crunch means that we will only be left with the publications that deserve to be out there… which i think is a great thing in the end


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