Category Archives: Middle East

Murdoch on the WSJ

I don’t know when this was broadcast, but Rupert Murdoch was interviewed by Fox on his plans for the Wall Street Journal. He wants to do away with the paid subscription base, rationalising that if it can get 20 million people reading and visiting (as opposed to 1m paying now) the advertising revenue will be worth the transition.

However, at the end of the clip he’s asked about newspapers, specifically about how to get young people reading them. His answer interests me.

That’s our challenge. We’re all working at that, how do we get young people back reading, enjoying newspapers. And one of the ways I think is to make newspapers better, more accessible and more exciting.

The key part for me is enjoying. It seems obvious, but is often overlooked by newspapers all over the world. You can have plenty of worthy copy and material, but if it’s not presented in a way that entices the reader it’s pointless. Murdoch’s empire has been built by tapping into what people want — be it downmarket sex and scandal in The Sun, or an upmarket paper of record approach a la The Times. The readers enjoy these papers because they speak to them.

Whether or not Murdoch — or anybody else for that matter — can get the current generation reading papers again remains to be seen. The online potential for the industry is clear and improved technology (think the live update newspaper from Minority Report) could also prove a shot in the arm, transforming the media industry.

And while you’re at it, have a look at my editor-to-be showing off the under-construction newsroom in Abu Dhabi. He also spoke to Sky about the project:

“A country which is going gangbusters on development, the economy and healthcare institutions, next turns its attention to its media”, [he said] in a boardroom at the HQ of Emirates Media Inc.

“Media is booming, but not as we understand it in the UK.”

Newland recalls a recent golden age for newspapers in Britain at the end of the dot com boom, and compares it to the current situation in UAE.

“It’s exploding,” he tells me, “here is one of the last few areas in the world where you can launch a newspaper and still get away with it.”

I’m looking forward to it.


My favourite quote from what I’ve read today is from an article in the Khaleej Times. The story is about the visit of Miss World 2006, Tatiana Kucharova, to a centre for special needs children in Abu Dhabi. About 40 children turned out to greet her with flowers.

“We had told the children that Tatiana, who is a tall, blonde and beautiful girl, is coming from far away to especially see them. So the children were all very eager and excited to meet her,” said Roni Pedralvez, head of training at [the centre].

If in doubt, go with the “she’s really pretty” line, huh? As for the lady’s looks, make your own mind up:


It's all relative

I shouldn’t have laughed at this headline in the Gulf News: Rain expected in UAE at weekend. As the post’s title says, it’s all relative. It is really no different than Irish papers running stories about a coming run of sunny days.

Besides, it is fair for them to point to rain on the way. The United Arab Emirates, as a desert country, is susceptible to flash flooding in the south, where the rainfall is expected. The country is also a “water deficit region” and needs every drop it can keep hold of.

Links o' the day

The Levi-Prodi law and the end of the Internet. A draft law in Italy would require anyone with a blog or a website to register it with the government, produce certificates and pay taxes.

Shannon and the DAA. Seems the Dublin Airport Authority knew about the Aer Lingus plan to scrap the Shannon-Heathrow route but neglected to tell the Shannon Airport Authority.

BT bets big on wind power. I don’t blame them.

Are these 10 common money mistakes keeping you poor? Bet your sweet ass they are, or at least not making things any easier for you.

Immigration, assimilation and identity in geopolitics. As Louisiana elects its first non-white governor in a century, Switzerland elects racists.

Putting a local spin on social networking.

Iran’s leadership battles. Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are at loggerheads.

An assortment

Misleading headline of the day: How a boozy dinner led Dunphy to finger Bertie. The Sindo in scintillating form.

Windbelt — Third World power. Shawn Frayne has developed a smallscale wind turbine that can power lights and radios, etc. You might never power your house on such technology but it could make a difference after night falls.

Nigeria asks Bill Gates if he is a mooch. Superbillionaire computer boy Bill was initially denied a visa to enter the country after it “required proof he would not reside in Nigeria indefinitely, causing a strain on social services and a general nuisance for immigration”.

Israeli planes struck nuclear site inside Syria, analysts say. Israeli and US analysts that is, seeming to confirm rumours that have abounded since the incident. And courtesy of Gavin, here’s how the aircraft were able to evade detection.

Meanwhile, Sarah Carey does a good job of taking Ireland’s millionaire tax exiles to task:

As long as we have a political system that is run by rich men’s rules, our society will continue to condemn some children to life-long disadvantage and treat others to a lifetime of opportunity simply because one is born in Moyross and the other in Merrion… The tax exile can operate a private form of justice that comforts him, but it does nothing to make the fundamental changes our society needs. In fact, it’s in their interests that unfairness is perpetuated because the system suits them as it is.