Besides Femina and Flimfare’s Middle East versions, two other magazines - Society Insider and Salt ‘n’ Peppa have ceased publication Image Credit: Screengrab

DUBAI: The Middle East editions of Femina and Filmfare have shut down and the franchise owners of the Indian magazines have fled the country leaving behind the entire staff and several vendors with unpaid dues.

Publishers of Saffron Media Works had been struggling to keep the monthly magazines afloat. The employees had not been paid for months but in the hope of a turnaround the dozen-odd staffers lumbered on at the firm’s Media City office in Dubai.

Clearly no one expected the end to come so soon and under such circumstances. Sure enough, they are shocked and angry. “Our bosses have betrayed our trust by running away,” said a staffer, who has now filed a complaint with Tecom against her employer to recover over Dh100,000. The total dues of the employees are an estimated Dh1.3 million.

Empty promises

Another employer who has not been paid since mid-2016 said they were repeatedly assured that their dues would be settled and the magazines will continue to run.

‘We were keeping our fingers crossed, but it looks like they never had any intention to pay us. That explains why they slipped out of the country,” she said.

“A company representative initially offered to pay us 60 per cent of the dues but later scaled it down to 40 per cent. But now we are given to understand that we won’t be paid anything. I am aghast. They have left us with no option but to file a complaint,” she added. Ten days after the owners fled, the company’s chief financial officer also left the country.

The Middle East edition of Filmfare was launched by Saffron Media Works about six years ago while Femina was launched in 2014. Two other magazines published by the group – Saffron: The Society Insider and Salt ‘n’ Peppa have also ceased publication.