The National, the English-language news outlet based in Abu Dhabi, has been selected by the Google News Initiative as one of the first winners of Google’s GNI Middle East Innovation Challenge. The GNI Middle East Innovation Challenge is a programme that will fund a set of projects across the region that inject new ideas into the news industry.
As part of the prestigious award, The National will be developing a new voice service with funding from Google. Both entities see voice spoken content as becoming more important for consumers today and in the future. Titled ‘Voice in the Middle East’, the project will allow the news site to deliver high-quality news service in voice format in both English and Arabic. The project which is currently in development, is expected to be launched later in 2020.
Mina Al-Oraibi, the Editor-in-Chief of The National, said: “The National is excited to be supported by Google on what we see as an important mission to bring high-quality news to larger Arabic speaking audiences in innovative ways.” Ms Al-Oraibi added: “As device proliferation grows, listening to content is becoming more important. News organisations such as The National have an important part to play in ensuring that high quality news is distributed and accessible to all”.
Google’s Joyce Baz, Head of Communications and Public Affairs for the Middle East, said: “We’re pleased with the first round of the Google News Initiative Challenge in the Middle East and Africa, an initiative to help foster digital innovation in the news industry. We received diverse project applications from news publishers and startups who submitted new ideas to enhance reader engagement and explore new business models. We congratulate the team at The National for putting forward a successful digital news project and look forward for kicking off the next round in 2020
Since its relaunch in 2017, The National has grown its readership significantly across the UAE and the world. The news outlet now reaches an audience of over 5 million people a month who seek the latest news and analysis on the Middle East and beyond.