1 7Days closes down
By all accounts 2016 has been a dire year for UAE print, but nothing was quite as saddening for the industry as closure of daily tabloid 7Days. Despite the newspaper – and its enduringly popular letters page – having a strong online presence, CEO Mark Rix said it had proved impossible to find a sustainable digital revenue model. All eyes will no doubt be fixed on how other print titles fare in 2017.
2 Gulf News Broadcasting closes down
Print was not the only area stricken by closures this year. In June Gulf News Broadcasting closed down the immensely popular stations Radio 1 and Radio 2 after Abu Dhabi Media reclaimed the stations’ frequency licences. Three months later, the news came that the broadcaster’s remaining stations, Josh and Hayat, would also close down, thus putting an end to the entity of Gulf News Broadcasting. ADM has said it intends to re-launch Radio 1 and 2 with a “new look and feel”, but few details have emerged since.
3 Heads roll at Khalieej Times
It was out with the old guard as long-running UAE newspaper Khaleej Times laid off up to 30 members of its workforce, many of whom had worked there for more than 10 years. Among those in the firing line were the director of advertising, head of supplements and head of periodicals. All were told to leave their desks immediately at the end of October and start of November.
4 The end of people meters
Less than three months after passing an independent audit, UAE people meters service tView was closed down following a disagreement between owners Kantar Media and the stakeholders in in Emirates Media Measurement Company (EMMC), for whom the service was operated. The monitoring programme had been trialled since 2011, and its closure now leaves the UAE without a television measurement service.
5 Vice announces Middle East launch
In June it was announced that Vice Media would soon be adding the Middle East to its ever-growing digital empire. Partnering up with the Kabul- and Dubai-based Moby Group, the media house plans to bring its youth-focused brand of alterative news and lifestyle content to a new hub in Dubai within the first quarter of 2017.
6 Some hope for UAE radio
It wasn’t all bleak on the Middle East’s media front. ARN gave job-insecure journalists and sales staff something to pin their hopes on as it announced the launch of two new Arabic-language digital radio stations in May. Elsewhere, Indian television giant Zee dipped its toes into radio with the acquisition of the UAE’s first station Hum FM. A spokesman for Zee said the network was confident in the medium’s growth potential despite the closure of Gulf News Broadcasting just months earlier.
7 Crisis hits Al Jazeera
In last year’s Annual, Campaign reported on the internal strife at Al Jazeera’s US headquarters that culminated in a $15 million discrimination lawsuit. Then, one month later, in January, the Qatari-owned broadcaster decided to axe the entire Al Jazeera America television station. The chaos did not end there: five months later, the broadcaster slashed its workforce by 500 people, mostly in Doha, as part of an ‘optimisation initiative’.
8 Upheaval at MEED
Dubai-based business publication Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) began the year by abandoning its 58-year-old weekly magazine in favour of a monthly title. Five months later and the publication’s editorial team was slashed by a third, with 11 people losing their jobs across the company. The title is now largely propped up by its online platform – which costs subscribers $1,495 annually – and conference events.
The Pokémon Go bonanza was the craze of the summer that seemed to take forever to die. Despite only officially launching in the Middle East in November – months, and therefore eons, behind the rest of the world – the frenzy still managed to have hoards glued to their smartphones ‘hunting’ the augmented reality creatures. And just when you thought the craze was all over, Starbucks this month unveiled its Pokémon Go Frappuccino…
10 The end of Vine
Fans around the world mourned as Twitter called time on its popular video-sharing app Vine in October. The six-second loop videos spawned a number of global megastars, including singer Shawn Mendes and the now-deceased Ryan McHenry, the creator behind ‘Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal’. News of its closure coincided with reports that Twitter was laying off 9 per cent of its workforce after failing to find a buyer.