‘Gulf News’ is a daily English language newspaper published from Dubai. It was first launched in a tabloid format in 1979. In November 1984, three leading UAE businessmen, purchased the company and formed Al Nisr Publishing. It was then re-launched in 1985 and was free for readers. From February 1986, readers were charged one Dirham per copy for the Gulf News package which comprised the broadsheet newspaper and the leisure supplement called Tabloid, which also contained classifieds. After the year 1986, Gulf News began to be distributed to other GCC countries like Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
Blaze to Brilliance
The way people access news and information is changing, or rather, has been changing for a while. The biggest shift took place with the entrance of television and now it is all about digital information. The internet or online content has increased people’s accessibility and exposure. What this translates into is that if a reader wants immediate international news, he or she would access the website for the local newspaper or television station of that particular place. The reader would then expect more detailed and analytical follow-ups on it from his or her local newspaper. In newspapers that have failed to identify this shift and not bothered to adapt or advance, readership figures have dipped. However, Gulf News recognised this fact and took necessary action to counter it, by driving change supported by growth and innovation. In order to provide better local coverage for its readers, Gulf News opened various bureaus around the United Arab Emirates, the GCC and the Subcontinent. To appeal to a larger part of the audience, the newspaper launched its website in 1996 which now focuses heavily on multimedia and breaking news online. Of the daily publications, while Gulf News reached 51.2 per cent of the non-Arab population, its nearest competitor Khaleej Times showed a readership of just 27.6 per cent which shows the ever increasing popularity of Gulf News.
Most newspapers around the world tend to fall into a segment of readership. In the case of Gulf News and its supplementary products including tabloid classifieds, freehold, appointments and properties, the consumption range is widespread; so much so that it is considered a reference point by households with monthly incomes that are less than Dh4, 000 to those in the bracket of Dh40, 000 and above. A similar range is seen even across educational levels of readership. It means that five out of every 10 non-Arab readers of English dailies rely on the newspaper as a key source of information about the country, region and the world. A report shows that 50.7 per cent of all non- Arabs in the UAE read Gulf News. In fact, Gulf News reaches more readers than all the other English dailies, combined. The profiles of these readers show them to be from across age groups, gender and job roles including entrepreneurs, managers, specialized professionals and employees. This clearly indicates the trust that the brand enjoys from its readers.
Engagement that Enthralls
Gulf News was the first newspaper in the region to promote the arts, culture, music and sport through sponsorship of events. The regionally famous Gulf News Fun Drive was started in March 1986. The 26th Fun Drive was held in December 2006 and saw 750 all-terrain vehicles with over 2,800 participants. An earlier Fun Drive was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as being a significant first achievement. Another major event is the $6 million Dubai World Cup horse race meeting in which Gulf News sponsors the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen & a ‘Group 1’ sprint which is one of the main attractions of the meeting.
The brand also sponsors an entire evening of horse racing at Nad Al Sheba, with each race being named after one of its titles. The paper also sponsors a number of other major sports events in the UAE alongside seminars and conferences. Principal among these is the Arab Strategy Forum, where leaders in politics and industry gather to discuss current events affecting the region. Their online portal called the ‘www.gulfnews.com’ is a media portal for the Al Nisr Group and acts as a one-stop online location for information in the Gulf Region and a binder to follow the ANG brand throughout one’s day, via print, radio, mobile, online, or WebTV.
Innovation has been the hallmark of Gulf News and it has a host of ‘firsts’ to its credit. They have been the first ones to have a tabloid leisure section, a family weekly magazine and a children’s weekly magazine, separate pages for “news from home” for various expatriate nationalities, a tabloid classifieds section & a comprehensive business and sports section.
In 1986, they came up with the first heatset color printing technique with glazed paper. Currently, their headquarters not only have stateof- the-art technology throughout, with fibre-optic cabling, but also one of the most advanced printing presses in the Middle East, which offers topquality solutions at internationally competitive prices. They were the first ones to use recycled newsprint. In 1988, they were the first ones to use a computer for page make-up. Through the re-launch of ‘Gulf News’, it had adopted a multipronged marketing strategy which hit the target because of which advertising revenues soared by over 40% in the first three months, and their subscriptions took a gigantic leap. Due to such creative innovations right from its inception, Gulf News has made sure it doesn’t fall into any stereotyped reader bracket and its appeal as a trustworthy source of information still exists across the population.
The core values of Gulf News are accuracy, fairness, transparency, credibility, professional responsibility and helpfulness. These basic values of daily operations help them interact with their readers. They believe in building an adaptive, constructive culture that is attuned to readers and customers which will ultimately result in higher amount of readership.