Alan Finch, Head of Production-Al Nisr Publishing briefs the INMA board members visiting Gulf News printing press. Photo: Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Members and directors of the International News Media Association (INMA) visited the Gulf News printing press at Dubai Investment Park yesterday.

Top staff members of International news agencies, including the New York Times and the Times of India, were given a presentation about the newspaper’s history and a tour of the printing press.

The visit came ahead of INMA’s first Middle East publishers’ conference which will take place on November 18 and 19 at the J.W. Mariott Hotel in Dubai. Sanjay Malik, Group Circulation Manager at Gulf news, gave a brief presentation charting the developments of the news agency in parallel with the country’s aspirations.

“We cater to over 160 nationalities,” Malik said, “In 35 years, we have prided ourselves with become the most circulated and read newspaper of the country and accomplishing a series of firsts, including the first colour newspaper in the region in 1986. Today, we utilise a state-of-the-art printing press and our calculative network of circulation ensures we deliver to 120,000 locations on a daily basis.”

Gulf News is also one of the first to adopt a waterless press and a first to embrace the Berliner newspaper format in the region.

After the presentation, Alan Finch, Head of Production at Gulf news, guided the visitors through the reel store which can house 9,000 paper rolls, and then gave a tour of the highly-automated Cortina web press. It is the first one of its kind installed outside Europe and the only one in the Middle East.

Visitors were keen on meeting the facility’s robots officially known as an Automated Guided Vehicle which do all the manual work.

Passing by the area where robots were busy piling colonnades of paper rolls, Yasmin Namini, Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Circulation at the New York Times and President of INMA, chose to test the robot’s sensor.

Namini stood in front of the robot’s path to see if its sensors would detect her presence and stop.

“It really is a state of the art printing press,” she said, “It is an incredible facility.”

Marcelo Benez, Advertising Director of Folha de Sao Paulo and President of INMA’s Brazilian division, said that it was surprising to see a printing press of this grandeur.

“Usually, when you step into a printing press, you are cocooned by the noise of machinery,” Benez said, “But it is very silent here. I was honestly surprised to see how technology advanced this printing press is.”