ABU DHABI // An Arabic version of National Geographic hit shelves across the region yesterday and marked the first time the magazine has been produced in the language. All the articles in the first issue have been translated from the English edition. But its editor-in-chief, Mohamed al Hammadi, plans to commission original pieces from Arabic journalists within six months. The Arabic journalists will not be confined to writing about the region. "It can be about anywhere or anything as long as it suits the magazine," he said.
Mohamed Shajith, the deputy general manager of Lulu Hypermarket in Al Wahda Mall, said he expected Emiratis and the growing Arabic-speaking expatriate population to be interested in Arabic titles such as National Geographic Al Arabiya. He said Arabic magazines now account for 10 per cent of the store's magazine sales. Janaka Rajnath, a salesman at BooksPlus in Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi, said the shop had copies of the magazine in stock. "An Emirati customer was enquiring about it a few days ago," he said. "We expect that it will be selling briskly."
Like its parent magazine, National Geographic Al Arabiya covers geography, archaeology and natural science as well as world culture and history. It is published by the Abu Dhabi Media Company, which owns The National, and already broadcasts the National Geographic Abu Dhabi channel in Arabic. That, according to Mr al Hammadi, lay the foundations for winning the rights to publish the magazine. "They liked what Abu Dhabi as a city was doing by building a cultural island with international museums, what it was doing for the environment and the local culture," he said. "ADMC was also a big company and had television, radio, newspapers and magazines."
The addition of an Arabic edition means the magazine is now available in 33 languages. It will initially be available in 15 countries, with plans for a further seven by the end of the year.
* With additional reporting by Ramona Ruiz