The UAE newspaper 7DAYS plans to launch websites catering to other Middle East markets as it seeks to derive one fifth of its revenue from its digital business.
The free newspaper, based in Dubai, aims expand beyond the UAE with news and entertainment portals in Riyadh, Cairo and Qatar.
Mark Rix, the chief executive of 7DAYS, said digital media currently accounted for less than 5 per cent of the newspaper's revenue.
"Within five years, it should be anywhere between 15 and 20 per cent of our total earnings," he said.
Will Breitholtz, the digital director at 7DAYS, said the brand was expanding into new territories with the launch of "community portals".
"We're going to launch a separate website for Abu Dhabi, called 7DAYS in Abu Dhabi. That will be at the end of February, beginning of March," he said.
"Three to four months after that, we will then launch a site in Riyadh and in Cairo, and by then we'll have a site in Qatar."
The new sites will include news and information about events in the cities, Mr Breitholtz said.
The licence to publish 7DAYS is owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family. Management services to the newspaper are handled by Catchpole Communications, which is owned by the Daily Mail & General Trust, owner of the UK's Daily Mail newspaper.
Revenue at 7DAYS is growing. "Our financial year starts in October. And since October we've seen year-on-year double-digit revenue growth. And that is largely due to new accounts we've developed," Mr Rix said.
Other digital initiatives planned by 7DAYS include a website-building service for local businesses.
Mr Rix said 7DAYSmight also consider launching print newspapers outside the UAE, although this was not an immediate priority.
"I don't envisage a print launch outside the UAE in the next 12 months, but we don't rule it out," he said. "If we achieve the engagement, Web traffic and brand awareness in markets at a level where we feel we could sustain a printed publication, then we would seriously look at it."
Mr Rix said the newspaper would increase its distribution in Abu Dhabi and launch a supplement dedicated to the UAE capital.
"We will be launching a dedicated Abu Dhabi weekly section within 7DAYS, which will also be distributed in areas of Dubai that are commuter belts for Abu Dhabi," he said.
Mr Rix said he was increasing the print run of 7DAYS by 5,000, boosting its distribution in Abu Dhabi to 17,000. Its total distribution across the UAE will rise to 75,000 from 70,000, he said.
The newspaper has recruited two reporters in Abu Dhabi, and plans to open an office there next month, based at the capital's twofour54 media zone.
7DAYS is one of the few newspapers in the Middle East whose circulation is independently audited by BPA Worldwide.