Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Gulf News - Editor's notes?

Via a comment, did the subeditor forget to remove the government instructions from under the headline?

Original article here, still showing the strange intro text.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

"Toning down" Dubai coverage

From the Wall St Journal:

DUBAI-- Gulf News, a newspaper part-owned by a senior government minister in the United Arab Emirates, has told its journalists to avoid using the words "bailout" and "default" when writing about Dubai's debt crisis, according to an internal memo sent to staff and seen by Zawya Dow Jones.

Reporters for the paper, the largest English-language daily in the U.A.E., were also urged to steer clear of the phrase "debt crisis" and asked to "ensure the following politically correct terminology is used" -- words such as "financial consolidation" and "fiscal support" -- when describing the sheikdom's economic problems and the assistance it has received from Abu Dhabi, according to the note sent Dec. 14.

"This is a style guide," said Francis Matthew, the Dubai-based paper's editor-at-large when asked by Zawya Dow Jones about the memo. "We're trying to restrict people from using financially incorrect terms."

More here

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

National Paint Job

Thread request:
How about a new topic? The National has shown its true colours with its insipid and benign reporting of the Dubai debt story? It's just another PR lead pamphlet for the UAE gov and about as credible as Em Biz 24/7/... Discuss.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Censorship in crisis

Has your publication been censored over the reporting of the Dubai crisis? And - as PR Week claims - has the PR machine at Dubai Inc failed?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A reader writes...

The original comment is here at 09:06:

Why do journalists think their right to do whatever they want defines democracy? There isn't a democracy in the world that doesn't have some form of censorship.

And guess what? Dubai doesn't say it is a democracy, or has any aspirations to be one. All the so called great democracies are full of corruption and sleaze and sex slaves and poverty and exploitation and self interest and everything that's bad about humanity. But you can say what you want in the local rag newspaper so everything's OK.

Journalists suck. You're all so smug and sure that what you do is so important.

Anyone feel like responding?

Monday, 30 November 2009

Dubai bans the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times has been pulped in the UAE, but honestly is anyone surprised?

DUBAI -- The Sunday London Times newspaper was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday amid intensive reporting of Dubai's debt problems, an executive at the paper said.

The National Media Council ordered the paper blocked by distributors without providing a reason, an executive at the paper in Dubai told Zawya Dow Jones.

The Sunday Times edition available in the U.A.E. on Nov. 29 featured a double-page spread graphic illustrating Dubai's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sinking in a sea of debt. The Times wasn't given a reason for the block, or a timeframe when it will be lifted, the executive said.

A government official in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., said that the picture of Sheik Mohammed, which accompanied a story entitled: The sinking of Dubai's dream, was "offensive."

Under the U.A.E.'s media code, publications are prohibited from criticizing the sheikdom's rulers. Local media and government officials have criticized international press coverage of Dubai's debt crisis. Markets around the world fell last week after the government requested a debt standstill for one of its biggest conglomerates.

Earlier this month Dubai's Sheik Mohammed told reporters gathered at an investment conference in the city to "shut up" and stop criticizing the emirate and its crucial relationship with Abu Dhabi.

Dubai is struggling to deal with it debts estimated to exceed $80 billion.

The Sunday Times is part of News International, a unit of News Corp., owner of Dow Jones & Co. The Times and The Sunday Times are published in the U.A.E. through a local partner SAB Media.

If anyone has a scan or screenshot of the "offensive" graphic, we'd love a copy.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dubai Biscuit Breakfast

Thread request:
We all know that radio here is bland and PC but it plumbed to new depths this morning when most of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye was devoted to a biscuit tasting competion. I was in the car listening with a business visitor to Dubai Air Show who asked if this programme was a joke because it gave completely the wrong impression of Dubai as a business centre. We are living in a city that is trying to climb out of a recesssion and if this is the best the two purile and amateurish presenters (who insist on telling you their names every five minutes) can serve up then no wonder most new business is moving to Abu Dhabi where thankfully you cannot pick up the signal for Dubai Eye.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Nose-dive/Crash landing/[insert aviation disaster pun here]

This probably has merit as a thread:

As many of you know I was in Dubai for the past year working for the Arabic satellite channel Al Arabiya, where I was in charge of the English website. Unfortunately journalists in Dubai and and the Arab media more generally do not enjoy the same freedom of the press as journalists in the U.S. Earlier this month when I refused to compromise my journalistic principles and compromise my credibility, which I have spent the past decade building, I was laid off.

Yesterday I arrived back in Washington after being forced out over an article about Emirates Airlines. The airline is on of the channel's biggest advertisers, and the head of Emirates is a Maktoum (a member of the royal family) and also happens to be the head of the regulatory aviation administration. The day after publishing the article I lost my job, prompting the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders to write about my case (read the press release I posted the original story on my blogs and and will be writing more about my experiences in Dubai now that I am out of the country and do not have to worry about being arrested or fined.

I thought this was an important issue of press freedom that I wanted to share with you. In the meantime I'm back in in Washington looking for the next step to take in my career. I hope you are all well and appreciate you taking the time to read this.


Courtney C. Radsch
Journalist & Media Consultant

Monday, 26 October 2009

No Cannes do

Thread submission:
This year's Middle East Film Festival presented a superb slate of movies, documentaries and shorts, so why does it continue to be the dullest event in the UAE's cultural calendar? Poor branding, weak marketing and worse PR, how does an event with so much money get it so very wrong?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Wam Bam Al-Bayan

Via a reader, does anyone have any more info on this:
WAM Dubai, Sep. 7, 2009 (WAM) -- The ownership of Al-Bayan Press, Publishing and Printing Establishment is to shift to Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI). H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has issued a decree ordering the transfer of the ownership of the Dubai-based establishment with effect from the date of issuance of the decree.

The decree calls for the transfer of all assets, properties, commitments and rights of Al-Bayan to the DMI and so shall Al-Bayan's staff and workers to boost media work and unify the efforts of media practice for better services to the general public. The decree which takes effect from the date of its issuance is to be published in the official gazette.

With the transfer of Al-Bayan ownership, the DMI, which already has under its umbrella five TV channels, has further expanded to include Al-Bayan, which has become by virtue of the new decree an integral part of the DMI family, which includes Dubai TV, Sama Dubai, Dubai One, Dubai Sports Channel and Dubai Racing.

Friday, 14 August 2009

For men

It seems the Dubai men's magazine market is about to explode - GQ and Esquire, anyone? But what's to say new titles - even if international brands - will do better in this market than any previous attempts? Will the ad spend ever be big enough to support new men's glossies?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Gulf News has to pay more than £1m in libel suit

Whoops. Gulf News has lost a libel case in the UK courts.

According to The Times website today, the damages and costs are more than £1 million.

AN EDINBURGH property developer has been awarded more than £1m in damages and costs against a Dubai newspaper after it wrongly said that he had deceived Middle East investors.

Mark Emlick, chairman and founder of Dunedin Independent, one of Scotland’s largest privately-owned independent financial advice businesses, won his case against the Gulf News in the High Court in London this week.

He brought the case for defamation of character after Gulf News reported in April last year that he and a partner were being sought in Dubai and in the UK by investors who claimed he had absconded with their money after a property deal that involved his company Strategic Property Investment group (SPI) went sour.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Are you using more PR material than ever before?

Apparently media are using more press releases than last year: could it be related to number of job cuts?

Journalists in the region are using press releases more often than they did in 2007, although many reporters still feel they receive a disproportionate number of irrelevant emails from public relations executives, according to the MediaSource/Insight Middle East Journalist Survey 2009.

In 2007, when MediaSource/Insight Middle East conducted its first survey, 58 percent of pollsters said they use none or less than 10 percent of the press releases emailed to them, compared with 45 percent in 2009.

“The ‘most irritating practice’ for both the Arabic and English media remains the sending of irrelevant press releases, just as it was in our 2007 survey,” said Ben Smalley, managing director of MediaSource.

“The survey reveals a pressing need for PR practitioners to become more targeted and develop a greater understanding of the subjects covered by the media outlets they are dealing with, rather than adopting a scattergun approach to distribution,” he adds.

The survey also found that while 63 percent of English-language journalists working in the Middle East say that the quality of journalism in the region is improving, only 22 percent believe the level of reporting is either ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’ , compared with 47 percent of Arabic journalists.

MediaSource/Insight Middle East surveyed 219 journalists working for Arabic and English-language print, broadcast and online media in 13 countries across the Middle East.

Are you using more PR material to fill space, or do you think the quality of press releases is worse than ever?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

20 days leave for Emarat Al Youm

Emarat Al Youm has been suspended for 20 days for defamation. While the Arabic paper was always edgier than its sister paper, Business 24-7 (the artist formerly known as Emirates Today), this is certainly something of a surprise for a Dubai government-owned publication.

UAE arabic daily Emarat Al-Youm has been suspended for 20 days and its editor-in-chief fined 20,000 dirhams ($5,448) for defamation relating to a 2006 story accusing a stable of giving steroids to horses.

The Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's previous ruling on the case brought against the newspaper by the owners of Warsan Stables, UAE daily Gulf News reported on Thursday.

The UAE Journalists Association criticised the ban, which it said will damage to the UAE's reputation with international press freedom and human rights advocacy groups.
“Although we do not have the right to object a court ruling, but we reiterate our rejection of banning the newspaper or any other local newspaper from publishing, association Chairman Mohammad Yousuf was quoted as saying.

How do you feel about this? Fair treatment? And, if there are any AMG readers, can you tell us if there have been internal repurcussions?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Adieu Newland?

The Independent on Sunday has claimed that Martin Newland is stepping down as editor of The National.

Just a year after the launch of The National in Abu Dhabi, rumours swirl that Martin Newland is to step down. The former Daily Telegraph editor set up the English-language paper, recruiting several ex-Telegraph hacks to join him.

Colin Randall and Sue Ryan were among those lured by generous tax-free salaries, the full details of which were memorably leaked on to the internet. My mole says Newland will continue to work for the paper but not as editor. I'm told his replacement will need to be pro the Emirates government and royal family, its proprietors. Newland did not return my calls.

Bearing in mind the National moles have all gone very quiet, is there any chance we can get this confirmed? Was Newland pushed, did he jump, or was he just unwilling to toe the party line any more?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Who is this?

Any ideas who or what this man is referring to in this recruitment post?

Looking for Angel/VC investors for media ventures in the Middle East backed by a well known media figure.

I for one cannot wait to find out more - especially what Emirates Leasing, a subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank, has got to do with it.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Draft media law starts to bite

Despite claims from UAE Inc that the new law will not encroach on media freedom, it seems that there are already a number of cases where it has. Worryingly, these include the news wires, as reported in the Guardian, and verified by a couple of our wire sources in Dubai.

The article, which states that a Bloomberg journalist was detained at Dubai airport and warned to be careful, also confirms that the double whammy of the Panorama documentary and the Independent's article on Dubai have struck a nerve with the powers that be.

Have any of you noticed increased censorship, self- or otherwise? Or run-ins with local authorities over stories you have run?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Down the tubes

Is your publication going down the tubes? Budget cuts, non-payments, layoffs, CEO just transferred all the remaining dirhams to his Swiss account, etc?

Here's a thread to spill the beans.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Was this a joke?

I am still hoping this is an April Fool's joke from Business 24-7, but quite frankly, it's not funny. Apart from the laughingly biased reporting. And I didn't think anyone at Business 24-7 had a sense of humour anyway....

Emirates has offered cabin crew voluntary unpaid leave starting May 2009, from one to six months.

An Emirates spokesperson said: "After a careful review of our operational requirements, we have decided to offer our cabin crew staff the opportunity to apply for unpaid leave on a voluntary basis, starting from May 2009. In anticipation of our growing fleet, Emirates' recruitment efforts over the past 12 months have been highly successful in meeting our operational requirements. Combined with a sharp drop in cabin crew attrition, we now find ourselves in a position to be more flexible as an employer.

"We believe some of our staff will welcome the opportunity to take time off to pursue personal interests such as studies, hobbies, or spend time with family and friends.

"There are limited slots available, depending on seniority and the aircraft type the crew is trained to operate on. Cabin crew may opt for unpaid leave from a period of one month, up to a maximum of six months. While on leave, they will still be employees of the airline."

Please can someone assure us that Emirates don't really think that six months unpaid time out to pursue basket-weaving and navel gazing is what their trolley dollies want?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

National staff salaries leaked on internet


National staff salaries leaked on internet
Tue, 10 Mar 2009 03:46 PM

The salaries of the National’s entire editorial staff have been leaked on the internet in what is being described as a serious data security breach at the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, Maktoob Business can reveal.

The monthly salaries of over 250 employees, including editor-in-chief Martin Newland, have been posted on Wikileaks, an internet site dedicated to the publication of confidential information.


Sources at the newspaper confirmed some of the salaries in the document were accurate said the leak might have been in retaliation for the freezing of bonuses this year or the u-turn on free housing.

Newland declined to comment when contacted by Maktoob Business. Abu Dhabi Media Co (ADMC), which owns the National, was not immediately available for comment.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Sun, sea and sanitised reporting

Not content with gagging the UAE media ("not to stop bad news but to stop journos digging for bad news blah blah" - Abdullatif), government authorities are now trying to silence business people too.

In a letter from Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, hoteliers were requested to comment only on business at their own hotels, since DTCM would “take the initiative of providing statements about the tourism in Dubai in general”.

This was “to ensure accuracy of the information published about Dubai” and to “avoid any misleading or conflicting statements,” the letter said.

Here's me thinking that hoteliers are probably well placed to comment on tourism in Dubai since they have ACTUAL room figures, not "government statistics". And they would ACTUALLY know - based on guest feedback - about whether tourists are fed up of construction, pollution, skanky water, price increases etc.

What's next? DIFC banning licensed companies from commenting on the state of the market? TECOM banning tenants from talking about internet usage and ADSL speed?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

RAK hit and run

From today's Gulf News (extracts below):

An American journalist working for an English daily from Abu Dhabi has run over an Egyptian security guard at the entrance of a university here because the guard denied him access to the campus.

The security guard did not allow entry to the journalist identified as "J." because he did not have an "entrance permission" which is a must for visitors as per the university regulations.

The Egyptian security guard is demanding Dh50,000 in compensation, and the university is demanding to continue with the case against the journalist and his sponsoring organisation.

The sources said that it has been reported that this particular journalist had repeatedly entered the university surreptitiously. He had entered with the university students and without holding any proper permission and this harmed the university's image. The sources said that the journalist had violated the privacy of the university.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Inspirational leadership

From a comment:

Could I suggest urgent new thread based on the following letter sent to all AMG staff today - maybe DMO readers can comment on the "unique story of this organisation"?

Dear All,

As you are all aware we are all witnessing the dawn of a Change. Markets are shifting and organizations are being called upon to reassess their businesses and drive their activity towards consumer needs.

As a group, we are not immune to the depth and severity of this situation that has been reflected in our daily lives as well as our business in their different shapes and forms. The current Global economic tides have forced us into a careful recalculation of our business decisions.

To address the challenges we face, now more than ever, we need to restructure our business and transform AMG into a results driven organisation, which values quality over quantity and is focused on accelerating its rate of growth. As a result, very difficult decisions, including Staffing, will have to be made today.

We want to remember the unique story of this organisation and how we have shown, within a short time, our innovative roots and strong vision.

To fully realize our potential, we will all need to make adjustments and compromises. I am confident that if we work together, as one team, we will come out of this difficult time in our history even stronger and be well placed to multiply our growth moving forward.

Thanks and regards,

Mohamed Almulla

Group Executive Director

Go for your lives.......

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Radio kaka

Another new thread request:

Can we get a thread going about the 'legal' issues between ENG and Fujairah Radio Network? This is apparently the reason that Coast is just playing music on a loop. Surely that has to be more interesting than 'Taps and Washers Weekly' being suspended by shite-TP.

Anyone got any info..?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Magazine closures

New thread request:
We (ITP) have closed another two magazines today...(thought I would get in there first)

My good friend over the road at Motivate tells me they are going to announce one more "suspension" in the next few days.

Any guesses?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Turning the mirror back on PR

One commenter has requested we tackle the issue of PR; we agree - let's face it, half of you will end up working in PR anyway, so we're all for it.

How about we do PR for a while. Stop sending me 2009 calendars, stop 'reverting shortly', stop saying 'do you remember me, we worked together with...' (yes moron, i remember you - I'm not 94 years old). Stop filling every press release with the following words: solution, integrated, delighted, strategic, iconic, leading, inaugural.

Who gives a crap if a two bit company has been 'awarded' a contract? if the company is listed maybe, but most aren't so why bother - all it does is tell people how small the company actually is. Why do you approach me about clients you clearly know nothing about? Why do you think i would like to go to dinner with your insurance company client - even if it is free! If i say i'm not interested why do you approach my colleagues trying to get in that way - no means no!

Why, if your client's stock price is going down faster than a Somali hooker, aren't you having them talk to the public about how great their order book is? What the hell is your job if not to make the company more viable to investors?!?!?!

I could go on but i also know my co-media member friends will want to shout loud about the utterly ridiculous crap they receive and deal with each day. PR in the UAE, its not just the media that is full of people who couldn't get a job anywhere else.

Is there still no love lost between PR and media? If there are so many ex-journos in PR, why are the press releases still craply written? And, do any PR people have any balls? And do any of them truly understand deadlines - especially for news wires?

Update: and what happens when a magazine like MEED hires JiWin to do its PR? At a time when the construction and real estate industries are falling apart, will MEED have to stick its neck in to avoid upsetting some of JiWin's clients, like Sama Dubai, Tatweer, Tecom and Dubai International Capital?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Big Unrest at The National

According to an anonymous commenter:
Big, big unrest at The National. I know we have a relatively healthy number of staff, and yes we have the backing of some very wealthy men, but the vibe around here isn't very good. Everyone around me is looking over their shoulder. I'm not privy to information at all (I'm a mere reporter) and I can't tell you anything for certain, but there is a feeling of impending doom around here. I suppose we wouldn't be the only ones to face cutbacks. But I'd be surprised if a few senior people, and quite a few others, are still here at the beginning of Feb. Horrible feeling.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Censorship? or more media freedom?

How do you feel about the new UAE media law? Do you feel it protects you and is a step away from censorship, or do you believe it increases your chances of being punished for ruining the country's reputation?

Jail is out (good news); fines are in for damaging the UAE's reputation or economy. Potentially, does this mean fines for any negative stories about the UAE? There has been plenty of coverage on the country's economy, as well as issues of transparency particularly in the real estate sector. A lot of this coverage in recent weeks has been negative. Will this change?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Return of the Jedi

Interesting goings on at Motivate - magazines closing down (Society Dubai, any others?) and former Motivator, Jason Leavy, back from UK to take up a new position as Publishing Director. Leavy used to edit What's On, before leaving to set up Society Dubai (which was sold to Society Dubai after Leavy moved to ITP as group editor of Ahlan - you following?)

anyone got the lowdown?

Monday, 5 January 2009

Rewriting history

Holy crap. Even by Gulf News standards, this editorial is a shocker. The opening para from Dr Mohammad Al Mutawa (professor of sociology at UAE University in Al Ain) says:

Today, the whole world stands as a witness to the fact that the Nazi holocaust was a mere lie, which was devised by the Zionists to blackmail humanity. The same Zionist entity swindled the world out of billions of dollars over the years to compensate the wrong and unjust which they claim to have been inflicted on their people.

Obviously, a qualification in history isn't a requirement to study sociology in Al Ain.

Update: The Guardian has picked up on the Gulf News column.

Getting his Bloomies in a twist

You could forgive Dubai's Bloomberg cubicle slaves for getting a little hot under their collars. Uber-boss Michael Bloomberg - 100% owner of the media corp - has gone on a well-publicised (naturally) tour of Israel to pledge his support.

Bloomberg (the man, not the newswire) issued some heart-felt quotes after he was "hustled" to a bomb shelter. "It gives you great comfort to know that the Israelis are doing everything they can to protect their people, but sadly there is no defense against a rocket if it hits you."

All in all, a worry for the large and growing bureau based in DIFC?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, and bah humbugs of the season. Any of you media types care to make predictions for 2009? Guess the date Business 24-7 closes down? What new publications will Abdullatif launch in its place? And do we care?

Any nominations for the DMO New Year's DisHonours List?

Obviously, we've been lazy over Christmas and New Year and haven't even been in the office to while away our time on DMO. Postings may/may not resume shortly. In the mean time, send in your titbits of media gossip!