Xpress 'community' paper set for launch

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Dubai's long-awaited new newspaper 'Xpress' will be a community-based 'people's paper' and is set for launch tomorrow, ArabianBusiness.com can reveal.

It will appear once a week - not twice, as previously thought - but publishers Al Nisr are pushing for it to publish more frequently.

Francis Matthew, Managing Editor of Al Nisr Media, says that the newspaper will be "a weekly tabloid focused on the communities and people of the UAE."

A website - www.xpress4me.com - will "keep in touch with readers over the intermediate days".

"It will be the first community paper - in spirit - that the UAE has seen. There will be lots of pages of stories about life here. We have a substantial local reporting team of ten reporters."

The newspaper will be free - "increasingly, people are not prepared to pay for news," says Matthew - and will compete with 7Days, which is currently only distributed in Dubai.

Xpress will be distributed across the entire UAE, delivered door to door in some areas and left in dispenser bins at key sites.

"Xpress is part of the Al Nisr group and as such benefits from [its] substantial distribution division," said Matthew.

Al Nisr is also behind the UAE's respected Gulf News broadsheet. Nirmala Janssen, formly of Gulf News, will be editor of Xpress.

ArabianBusiness.com revealed last month that the print run of the new title would be 80,000-100,000, but the publisher would not confirm this.

Matthew did not comment on whether the fact that the paper would only publish once a week is connected with local media regulations. "We think we can do a better job weekly. Over the last two years we've had a lot of different concepts and plans," he said.

Advertising is "looking good", but that "because of the necessity of secrecy in this launch, we're building it slowly," says Matthew. The first edition will consist of 72 pages and "lots of colour".

Renowned newspaper designers Garcia Media worked on Xpress. "We've gone to a lot of trouble to launch a newspaper that is very accessible to the readers," says Matthew. "It's a sharp little paper"

'Xpress' has been in preparation for over two years under the codename 'Project X'. Many thought it would never see the light of day.

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