The key to print’s resilience lies in the art of engagement

The print market has shifted considerably in recent years, writes SRMG’s Katie Golding

To discuss print’s current state and future without emphasising the ongoing digital and audio evolution would be a disservice.

Driven by rising online viewership and increasing demand for digital content, particularly in the digitally engaged Middle East which boasts an impressive 100 per cent connectivity rate, it’s clear that print and digital need to coexist, with each medium playing to its strengths to reach and engage the widest audience.

The digital transition plays a pivotal role in meeting audiences where they are – online. This revolution not only offers a massive opportunity for publications to pivot and retain existing readers but also serves as a catalyst for attracting new ones.

It’s worth noting that digital adoption is no longer just for the younger generations; even the boomers are adept at navigating the digital landscape and dropping their tech wisdom into casual conversations. Over the holidays, I witnessed my mum and son swap tech tips and thoughts on ChatGPT.


The landscape of content consumption has undergone a transformative shift, with digital which was once considered a mere extension to print, now taking the lead.

This shift caters to audiences’ desires to be the first to know, share groundbreaking news, leverage business insights, and even make purchases directly from lifestyle magazines – a reality my younger self could only dream of.

As we navigate this evolving landscape, the key to print’s resilience lies in the art of engagement – a deep understanding of what audiences seek from content, how to sustain their interest, and, most importantly, how to draw them in closer.

Print, in response to these challenges, is evolving into a niche market. Identifying and understanding this niche, and the key commercial drivers, is pivotal.

It’s not merely about print complementing digital media anymore; there has been a paradigm shift and to thrive I believe we must be digital first.

At SRMG we have spearheaded digital transformation across the MENA region by embracing a data-driven, audience-centric strategy and adopting immersive, impactful formats tailored for each platform. For example, we recently revamped our lifestyle magazines, Hia and Sayidaty, with engaging digital-first approaches.

The new digital content is complemented by high-quality monthly print editions. Likewise, our recent launch, LIST, a digital platform, and print magazine, features captivating, top-tier social content, allowing global audiences to explore new destinations from their phones. The success of these brands underscores SRMG’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve and adapting to engage diverse audiences on the platforms they prefer.


In the Arab world, the digital era has become a gateway for publishers to reach a global audience, especially in connecting with a diaspora spread across six continents. There’s just one challenge in this endeavour: despite Arabic speakers accounting for 7.5 per cent of the world’s population, Arabic content penetration remains surprisingly low, around 5 per cent.

If we look at the book publishing industry, where print is still thriving, we find that this is not just a digital problem: less than 1 per cent of all books published annually are translated into Arabic.

Recognising this gap and opportunity, SRMG took proactive steps in 2021 with the launch of Raff Publishing, a leading publishing house in the MENA region.

Focused on filling this void and capitalizing on the growing demand for Arabic language content globally, Raff publishes Arabic language books in both digital and print formats, showcasing the harmonious experience of these mediums.


Looking ahead, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) is set to play a transformative role in the print industry. A recent McKinsey Global Survey on AI indicates that AI adoption has more than doubled since 2018.

The true potential of AI lies in streamlining processes, enhancing products, and ushering in more sustainable practices. One of the longest-standing challenges in the printing and packaging industry has been the generation of waste, but AI’s analytical capabilities are optimizing resource usage and minimizing waste of materials such as ink and paper.

Far from being a threat, AI represents an opportunity for print, providing a platform for those who have weathered the digital storm and integrated their offerings to meet the demands of a modern audience.

Standing at the intersection of tradition and innovation, the print industry finds itself on the brink of a new era. For those who have navigated the challenges and discovered their unique niche, the opportunities presented by digital transformation and AI are endless. Print, often deemed a relic of the past, must adapt and embrace the possibilities of the digital age.

By Katie Golding, Chief Marketing Officer at SRMG