Newsletter No 1 28 September 2005
News from the Media Scene:
Mixed Reactions to New Compacts in United Arab Emirates

Two new newspapers in compact format launched in the United Arab Emirates on 20 September. The two papers were finally called Emirates Today for the English edition and Al Emarat Al Youm for the Arab edition. It seems that the new papers prompted mixed reactions. As Campaign Middle East reports, Gavin Dickinson, commercial director at the Arab Media Group which publishes the two newspapers, said that the launch was an "unqualified success, but admitted there had been problems with the paper’s reproduction in the first issue."

According to Campaign Middle East especially the reproduction quality and the papers' mixture of international and local news were criticized, while other features were praised. Charif Wehbe, partner at Face to Face Public Relations, said, "The Arabic-language version is the real news here. Launching a tabloid-style image-led daily is revolutionary for the UAE. It was only a matter of time before someone figured out that the new generation of Arab readers also have less time to read cumbersome broadsheets stuffed with endless columns of print." David Sheridan, regional director at MindShare, a media agency, said, "The lack of navigational aids through this initial news melee needs sorting but the paper redeems itself with clear, colour-coded sections that may, in time, have appeal, particularly to women ... while I am not expecting challenging reporting in the early days, I do hope that it will develop a cutting edge in its editorial, otherwise I may question what more am I getting from Emirates Today for AED2 (US$0.5) than I get from 7Days for free?"

Other comments about the paper stated that there was: "Nothing earthshaking about the paper. One of my friends said he would still prefer to pay Dirham 1 for The Emirates Evening Post. The price of Emirates Today is Dirhams 2, but right now given away free ... One has to wait and see how the battles shape up." Another comment told: "I expected a lot more from these two publications ... After two days of the new kids on the block I am still waiting to read something better than is already out there."

More reaction on the World Editor Forum’s Editors Weblog,