Former Daily Telegraph editor Martin Newland is set to launch a new national newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, creating jobs for 200 journalists from around the world.
Newland, who left the Telegraph in 2005 after two years as editor, is currently working on the design and title of the paper and planning the newsroom, based in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. He has experience of working on new launches, having played a major role in setting up Canada’s National Post in 1998.
Newland said: “You might expect to do this once in a lifetime on a fully national newspaper, but the chance to do it twice was too good to turn down.
There’s nothing more exciting than a launch.
“This area is absolutely exploding with potential – in many ways running too fast with infrastructure having to catch up. The paper is aimed at anyone at the high end, so you’re looking at broadsheet quality, people earning over £100,000 who speak English. In this place, that’s the Indian middle classes, the Anglosphere ex-pats and Emiratis, who speak it fluently.”
The paper currently has no title or a launch date more concrete than “months, not years away”, but Newland stressed its future is “assured” by significant investment from the investment wing of the Abu Dhabi government.
Although the paper will be a national for the Emirates, Newland said there would be plans to expand further into the Middle East and abroad. He said the paper’s aim was to “put Abu Dhabi at the head of a nation within a region” and that, from the start, copies would be sent to London and Washington.
Although it has only recruited one editorial member of staff so far – a designer – the paper’s business plan has allowed for at least 200 more and Newland plans to advertise in the US, Canada, Africa and Britain to get staff.
“You’ve got to understand that, economically, newspapers here are about where we [British newspapers] were at the height of the dotcom era, where you were beating off advertisers with sticks. We have a lot of newspapers that run at 100 per cent profitability – as soon as you can grow a section, it fills [with advertising].
“For those of us who have become slightly jaded with the Fleet Street scene, where circulation is sinking and everyone’s being made redundant, this is like turning the clock back. It’s booming.”
Former Observer business editor Frank Kane left London last year to launch the Arabian Business Standard, based in Dubai but its launch, scheduled for August last year, was postponed after a request from the UAE cabinet to postpone it until new media laws had come into effect. Kane said the paper, the first English-language business newspaper in the region, was to be “a cross between the Financial Times and the Evening Standard”.
The paper is backed by publisher ITP, chaired by Spectator publisher Andrew Neil, which publishes more than 40 English-language titles in the Middle East. No one at ITP was available to comment.