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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

The 30-year-old Khaleej Times is on a recruiting drive

The changes will make its staff and content better reflect the international make-up of the UAE, company officials say.
Didier Brun, the chief executive of the Khaleej Times, said hiring was on the top of his agenda.
Didier Brun, the chief executive of the Khaleej Times, said hiring was on the top of his agenda.

Abu Dhabi // The Khaleej Times, a 30-year-old English-language daily newspaper, is on a recruiting drive to make its staff and content reflect the international make-up of the UAE, company officials say. "The audience for the new Khaleej Times is very much the audience of the new United Arab Emirates," said Didier Brun, the new chief executive. "In the past, the Khaleej Times was more skewed towards Indian and sub-continental readers, which is the largest population in the UAE and still a major constituency for us, but there are a lot of other communities and nationalities represented in the UAE, from Arab nationals in other Middle East countries to Westerners." Rahul Sharma, the new editor-in-chief, said he was hiring people "from the US all the way to ­Australia". "I'm looking for talent," he said. "We're looking on five continents for people." On Aug 31, the newspaper introduced a streamlined design from Pentagram, a prestigious New York firm. The old logo, with its quirky palm tree, dhow and oil derrick, as well as the copious use of orange and red in the layout have been cast aside. The paper is now emblazoned with a sleeker logo with a light blue watermark that reads "KT" behind it and the paper uses new design components and fonts throughout its pages. Khaleej Times has a circulation of about 75,000, Mr Brun said. The relaunch comes in the middle of a changing media market. New publications, including The National, have been launched and The Financial Times has started printing in the UAE. Existing newspapers are said to be improving their products to compete for the millions of dirhams in advertising revenue. "For years, it was a bit lazy here," said Austyn Allison, the editor of Communicate, a media and advertising magazine. "There were two main newspapers and people were pretty loyal to them, often along ethnic and socio-economic lines. But now the entrance of these new players is spurring the others on." Mr Allison said part of this effort was for publications to try to become more accessible to the wide range of cultures and socio-economic classes in the UAE. Mr Brun, who was previously a senior vice president at the International Herald Tribune and an executive at an online dating company in Europe called Meetiq.com, said the Khaleej Times had become "quite old-fashioned". He said this led to the new board appointing him and Mr Sharma to co-ordinate a relaunch of the paper as part of its 30th anniversary. They next planned to redesign the website and the weekend magazine, but hiring was on the top of the agenda. Khaleej Times announced in early May that it had formed a strategic alliance with the International Herald Tribune to print and distribute the paper in the UAE, a move that gave the newspaper access to international expertise and open up the possibility for other partnerships. The Investment Corporation of Dubai, an investment group owned by the Dubai Government, has a "significant stake" in the parent company of the newspaper, Mr Brun said. Five of seven board members of the newspaper are employees of companies wholly owned by either Dubai Holdings - a private company of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai - or the Investment Corporation of Dubai. The chairman of the board, Adel al Shirawi, the deputy chairman of Istithmar World, is under investigation by the Dubai Public Prosecution office for alleged financial improprieties. @email:bhope@thenational.ae