Newsletter No 1 28 September 2005
Readership & Circulation:
United Arab Emirates Daily Grows Thanks to Women Readers

Eighteen months ago, the UAE daily Akhbar Al Arab launched “Al Maraa Al Arabia”, a supplement for women. It proved a success: not only did it increase sales but it also managed to attract new advertisers: to such an extent that the income from the supplement not only covers its own cost of production, but also brings extra income to the newspaper.

“Al Maraa Al Arabia was launched because we realized that there was no publication in the country that focused on women. We found that there was a shortage in tackling topics of specific interest to women, so we wanted to introduce a new trend through a supplement for them. It also gave us the opportunity to attract new readers and improve the contents of the paper,” says Noor Al Kaabi, head of the supplement.

The supplement proved to be a good investment. “Circulation increased after we launched it. Every Saturday, when 'Al Maraa Al Arabia' is distributed, there is a slight increase in sales compared to the rest of the week,” says Hyder Taha, deputy managing editor of Akhbar Al Arab.

When asked about the paper’s strategy to attract readers to the supplement, Taha says: “We work to find the issues that concern women in the UAE the most, in particular social issues related to the family such as life style, parenting and relationships within the family. We tried to attract women by focusing on their way of thinking.”

Al Kaabi continues: “We try to appeal to all women in the supplement, from working ones to house wives. We have a front page with a mixture of brief and light news and stories. Inside the supplement we publish features and interviews. We also deal with educational matters, associative activities for women as well as their professional role; for example running interviews with prominent business women.”

Focusing on more in-depth articles is a deliberate choice: “Women are more devoted readers than men. Men are mainly interested in news, what happened and who did it, while women are more thorough in their reading, in order to have a better understanding of the topic,” says Al Kaabi.

The supplement has also been successful in attracting new advertisers. “Al Maraa Al Arabia covers all of its own expenses and also gives benefits to the newspaper as a whole”, says Taha. “The proportion of advertisers is bigger in the supplement than in the newspaper. Usually, about a third of the newspaper pages are dedicated to ads, while the proportion is between a third and a half of the pages in the supplement. The biggest share of ads in the supplement are for make-up products and clothes.”

However, even if the Akhbar Al Arab has managed to attract new readers through launching a specific supplement, Taha does not think there are a few basic rules that any newspaper needs to follow in order to be a quality product that keeps the readers interested. “The most important aspects are to keep the standard of credibility, to deal with events that concern the readers and to fascinate them with good stories, accuracy and skilfulness.

Akhbar Al Arab, is a politically independent newspaper with a circulation of 20,000. It was launched in November 2000. Half of its sales come from subscriptions.