By Tim Addington
Gulf News linked publisher tackles the internet and overhauls lifestyle magazine.
Aquarius, the A5-sized women’s health and lifestyle magazine published by Al Nisr Media, is to undergo a redesign as part of a series on new initiatives planned by the publishing group. Details on the new design have yet to be finalised, but a change in the magazine’s size has yet to be ruled out.
“We are looking at a new design for Aquarius. The magazine has not been redesigned for three years and it now needs a fresh new look,” said Francis Matthew, managing editor of Al Nisr Media, a subsidiary of Gulf News owner Al Nisr Publishing.
The media company also plans to take Aquarius and its three sister publications — interior design title Inside Out, car magazine Wheels, and Property Weekly — online.
“We are looking at developing a web presence for each of these titles, but I think it is something we need to get right,” Matthew said. “The obvious advantage of putting them online is that you have a readership far beyond the distribution area.”
The former Gulf News editor also claimed that Al Nisr Media’s two recently launched weekly publications; Wheels and Property Weekly, are performing well in the market and had been well received by advertisers.
“Wheels is on target, and if anything, a little bit above, which for something that is 12 weeks old is exciting. Property Weekly is also doing well and is on track. Advertisers have recognised the titles and taken note. We believe the weekly delivery makes the monthly titles look old and tired,” Matthew said.
Although there are plans to launch “relevant and useful” new titles next year, Matthew confirmed that no more magazines were slated to launch in 2005. The managing editor was also tight-lipped on what subjects the new projects would cover or how many titles it would be.
“We are looking at several segments. We don’t want to talk about it very much. I don’t see any real advantage in talking them up at the moment. There are certain themes that make sense,” said Matthew.
“They need to be relevant and useful. We are not in the business of standing still. Can we go faster, yes, but only once we have learnt what to do, and once we have the infrastructure in place to expand.”
Part of Al Nisr Media’s infrastructure development includes moving into the old Gulf News building, once it has been refurbished, and recruiting staff who have more publishing experience.
“Recruiting is really difficult, the whole industry is finding it hard to get the right people. We actually delayed launching some of these magazines, because we needed the right people in place,” Matthew said.
Al Nisr Media is a Dubai Media City company, established two years ago to launch publications that are not connected to the Gulf News title. Inside Out, which was created by Al Nisr Publishing, and Aquarius, which was bought by the group, were the first titles in the stable.
Wheels and Property Weekly are its most recent additions, launched after the company “took active shape” in October 2004.