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Friday magazine turns 20

Launched on May 16, 1997, Friday magazine celebrates two decades of being a leader in ideas

Image Credit: GN Archive
The first cover of Friday magazine on May 16, 1997, featured Indian beauty queen-turned-celebrity photographer Pamela Singh Bordes.
Gulf News

Dubai: For 20 years, Friday magazine has — week in, week out — celebrated the inspirational and exceptional in the UAE. This weekend, it’s Friday’s turn to celebrate, as it marks 20 years since the first edition, published by Gulf News on May 16, 1997. Tomorrow’s magazine is the 1,045th edition, and it’s one you can’t miss.

The glossy magazine emerged from the newspaper’s existing weekend read, Gulf Weekly, a mix of local and international lifestyle and news content, once the need for a different product became apparent to Gulf News and its then editor, Francis Matthew. In 1996, the concept of the magazine, a mix of weekend reading that to this day includes fashion, food, travel, health and insight into the lives of UAE residents, was approved by the board and production began with the magazine’s first editor, Malavika Kamaraju, leading the team. The first cover star: Indian beauty queen-turned-celebrity photographer Pamela Singh Bordes.

Kamaraju and Matthew work with Gulf News to this day (as features editor and editor at large, respectively) and share their memories of those early days, and the impact that Friday had — and still has — in tomorrow’s anniversary edition. Loyal Friday readers will also recognise the byline of Anand Raj OK, the magazine’s lifestyle writer and a veteran of the team who joined just in time for Friday’s second edition; he, too, reminisces — of strolling across a much smaller Shaikh Zayed Road from the Gulf News office, of writing memorable features, some tragic, some uplifting — and some award-winning. Raj did Friday proud again this week itself, when his writing on the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature this past March was awarded the prize for best English language coverage of the annual event.

There’s a further dose of nostalgia in tomorrow’s edition, as Friday’s deputy editor Mrinal Shekar (a relative rookie, having only been with the magazine for 15 years) looked back through hundreds of Fridays to find a few of the many fascinating personalities the team has interviewed over the years, and asks them about the “Friday effect” on their lives.

Being the newbie on the team (I joined as editor last November), I wanted to bring plenty of fun and joy to what is an incredible achievement by Gulf News. The best way I could think of was birthday cake — five beautiful cakes created by some of the UAE’s most innovative bakers, and which, importantly, are designed so that all our baking-mad readers can try to make them at home. The celebrations continue online at fridaymagazine.ae, where there are step-by-step videos to help you — and if you do bake one of our birthday cakes, we’d love to see it. Share your bakes on our Instagram account (@Friday_magazine).

2017 is an extremely exciting year for the magazine, as we look back over the achievements, and look ahead to many more to come, with a focus on telling the stories of our home, the UAE, whether it’s reinterpreting the global hygge trend for our warm climate, to meeting the country’s most loyal nannies, or diving underwater to do a unique fashion shoot. Hearing from readers, and meeting them in person, is one of our goals this year, something we have already begun thanks to the weekly Storytellers column, and our cooking Masterclass. There are more to take place in the coming months — we hope to see you there, and hear your thoughts on this weekend’s edition. I’d like to thank everyone that takes the time to read, comment, ‘like’ and email us, and I hope you join me in wishing Friday many happy returns.

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