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Redesign buzz in the Middle East

Suddenly, the Middle East is the focus of attention of designers!

Since Gulf News was redesigned by Mario Garcia several years ago, other papers have caught the bug.

Last April, I redesigned the Saudi Gazette in Jeddah, turning it from a tabloid to a broadsheet.

Innovation is redesigning Emirates Today, a government-owned tabloid in Dubai. A team of five from Innovation, including Marta Botero, is in Dubai working on the project.

Now, I hear several other papers are looking to redesign. But I wonder how many newspapers understand that a redesign alone is not going to sell newspapers.

It takes commitment of the top order. Commitment in getting the right journalists, commitment in training, commitment in carrying out the redesign not just for a few months but two to three years later and commitment in technology and a host of other big-money investment.

A newspaper is a labour-intensive product, and as every businessman knows, the quality of people determines the quality of your newspaper.

Sadly, some redesigns fall by the wayside because of a lack of such commitment. The Saudi Gazette is such an example. Too bad.

Two new papers launched in Delhi

In these hard times, whoever heard of two new newspapers launched within days of each other? But that’s exactly what happened in Delhi, India, just this past week.

First off the block was Mail Today, a joint venture between India Today group and Associated Newspapers of UK. The tabloid hit the streets on Nov 16.

Mail Today (www.mailtoday.in) looks and reads just like its big sister, and is aimed at women.

Then on Nov 21, Aaj Samaaj (Hindi for Society Today) appeared in the streets of Delhi. The 20-page full-color broadsheet is owned by Good Morning India Media, owned by Kartik Sarma, son of a Congress Party MP and former Cabinet Minister.

Aaj Samaaj is competing with Hindustan, the Hindi paper owned by the Hindustan Times (now undergoing some tweaking by SND regional director Gabi Schmidt), Dainik Jagran (India’s biggest Hindi paper), Dainik Bhaskar, Navbharat Times (owned by the Times of India) and several smaller ones.

The Sarma family has been receiving bad press in the last couple of years. One of the sons, Manu, was involved in the shooting murder of a waitress-model in Delhi.

Aroon Purie, chairman and editor-in-chief of India Today Group said Mail Today will follow the Daily Mail pattern of reaching out to women, who have been largely ignored by the mainstream press.

Delhi (population about 14 million) is a crowded newspaper market like many of the big cities in India. There are no fewer than 15 dailies to choose from.