Dubai: Gulf News was named Most Read Newspaper and Most Visited News Website in the UAE, and Friday magazine was named most widely read magazine in the UAE, according to the Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015 issued here on Monday.
The fourth edition of the Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015 offers a comprehensive and in-depth view of the Arab media industry, its current status and key trends shaping it.
The report also provides projections for the media industry from 2011 to 2015. The research was conducted using both market research and interviews with industry stakeholders in various countries.
Gulf News took over the Most Read Newspaper position from Al Khaleej Arabic daily with 48 per cent of the surveyed readers in the country. Al Khaleej fell to second from first last year with 39.4 per cent. Al Emarat Al Youm Arabic daily came third with 31.6 per cent and Khaleej Times came in the fourth position with 27.7 per cent.
The most subscribed to newspaper title went also to Gulf News with 34 per cent, while the Arabic daily, Al Ittihad, came second with 17 per cent. Gulf News has retained the most subscribed paper in the UAE title since 2009.
The report stated that the expatriate community has developed a strong preference for the newspaper. The report also estimated daily newspaper readership at 56 per cent compared to 45 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 42 per cent in Egypt.
According to the circulation figures audited by BPA Worldwide — one of the world's leading newspaper auditors, Gulf News' average circulation for the six-month period ending December 2011 was 107,998 for the Saturday-Thursday edition and 108,914 for the Friday edition. Gulf News is the only paid for newspaper in the UAE which is audited, apart from Sport 360.
In the Most Visited News Website category, Gulf News also came first, followed by The Times of India and Al Jazeera. Nineteen per cent of the respondents said they visit Gulf News online to know about news of the region while Al Jazeera of popular Pan-Arab satellite TV channel earned 10 per cent. The Times of India came second with 12 per cent.
The report also revealed that despite the increasing number of consumers reading news and magazines online, print media remains the sole source of news and magazine readership for 59 per cent of people.
Only 7 per cent of consumers use the internet as a news source more intensively than print, and the report highlighted that expatriate Arabs account for the majority of this figure, while UAE nationals account for the smallest portion.
The BPA Worldwide Gulf News audit indicated that average monthly unique visits for gulfnews.com and gnads4u.com websites combined was 2,455,587 visits and that the duration of the average user session's is seven minutes and 15 seconds, as it is accessible also on mobiles and tablets, with a presence on Facebook and Twitter.
The website gulfnews.com has transformed from a technological experiment in 1996 to the dominant source for breaking news in the UAE and beyond. The site was launched on September 1, 1996 as a single, static page that was updated every morning by Gulf News' library staff.
Today the site is refreshed constantly by a team of online journalists that deliver stories to the website round the clock. The website has always done exceptionally well with its UAE coverage, but increasingly it has developed into a destination for sports, business, global news and entertainment.
As for magazines in the UAE, Friday topped the list with 26.2 per cent of respondents choosing it as their most read. The Arabic monthly magazine Zahrat Al Khaleej came second with 16.4 per cent and Gulf News' Entertainment Plus (now replaced by Scene) not far behind with 16.1 in third place.
The report indicated that among those who subscribe to magazines, Friday, Khaleej Times' Weekend and Entertainment Plus are the most popular amongst expatriates with an average subscription rate of 14 per cent. However the report said that these trends reflect more the popularity of underlying newspapers — namely Gulf News and Khaleej Times — than the true magazine subscription.
Call for transparency
Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of Gulf News and Executive Director Publications, Al Nisr Publishing, said the result of the Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015 was another testimony to Gulf News' leadership in the media industry in the UAE.
"We are proud of the results represented in the Arab Media Outlook as we feel they illustrate our great responsibility towards our readers in keeping Gulf News always ahead in the media scene in the UAE," he said.
He said this report sends a strong message "to both our readers, who find value for their money in our content, design and updated news, and the advertisers who also find value for every dirham they spend on having their advertisements in either Gulf News' print edition or online".
"I urge all papers, whether they are in print or online, to get audited just like Gulf News started in 2006, in order to raise the essential transparency that the industry needs," Abdul Hamid said.