Dawn Barnable, United Arab Emirates
When first asked to write a post for ConsumerACTIONism, I jumped at the chance to share a little slice of Middle Eastern life. As I’m relatively new to the region (6 months and counting), I wanted to share a few (or four) of my favourite finds and insights related to the rich Middle Eastern media landscape that I hope will enlighten, educate or at the very least, entertain:
Brownbook Magazine – According to the magazine itself, Brownbook “is an urban lifestyle guide focusing on design, culture and travel across the Middle East and North Africa.” What I love about Brownbook, besides its refreshingly smart design is that it sets out to address stereotypes, clichés and misguided perceptions about the Middle East. In doing so, it brings to life the people, places and stories of the region and as it also helps ex-pats like me gain a better understanding of the local culture. Published 6 times annually, Brownbook is also available worldwide at select retailers. Find out more at www.Brownbook.ae
The National – The National launched in April 2008 and by its very own admission, it “sought to establish an institution on par with some of the greatest newspapers in the world, but with the authenticity of a paper made in the UAE.” Did it? I think so. The Nationals my daily go-to source for all of the day’s local, regional and international news. Check it out here: www.thenational.ae.
Think global but be local – Having lived in Canada, Australia and Japan prior to my move here, I have quite a few favourite magazines from here and there, and everywhere in between. Lucky for me, the UAE media landscape strongly reflects the multicultural communities that call it home. In addition to getting my Monocle or Australian Gourmet Traveller , I’m also able to get major newspapers and magazines from all over the world in any number of languages. Along with the South African GQs and British Vogues, it’s also worth noting that many Middle Eastern editions of well-known consumer magazines are published in the UAE and distributed throughout the region. Stuff, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Grazia, Esquire, Hello! Men’s Fitness and Shape magazines, to name a few, are all available in Middle Eastern editions. While these magazines do include some internationally syndicated content, they largely focus stories, news and issues that are local and relevant to the region’s residents. Also, while many magazines are published in English, quite a few such as Elle and regional magazines such as Arabian Business, are published in both Arabic and English.
A few (more) interesting things - So reading this post you may wonder why I have decided to focus heavily on traditional media given that much of our work as public relations professionals now focuses on Transmedia storytelling across traditional, hybrid, owned and social media outlets. Aside from personally loving the printed word, traditional media, and their online outlets still remain very important in the UAE and region as they are a key source of information for decision makers in both public and private sectors. This is particularly true of Arabic language newspapers and TV news programs. This is not to say that social media is not important in the UAE and region, as it is, but that would be a blog post for another day.
Before I sign off (or simply stop typing), one last thing that may be of interest to you is the UAE’s role as a regional Middle Eastern media hub and source for Arabic media content. Media zones, such as Dubai Media City and Abu Dhabi’s TwoFour54 have become the regional headquarters for many international media outlets, while at the same time have become the home of many local and Arabic language, pan-regional outlets. International outlets such as CNN and Reuters sit alongside Arabic outlets such as MBC and CNBC Arabiya and stories written, filed and produced here are broadcasted and syndicated across the region and in many cases internationally.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this very brief snapshot of UAE-based media from a girl on the ground. I could go on and on but I’ll now invite you to check out some of the outlets and places mentioned above for yourself– what you find may surprise you!