x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Magazine challenging Emirati stereotypes is 'hard work but fun'

Emirates Diaries, the brainchild of a group of UAE youngsters, is a new magazine produced by nationals hoping to challenge wrong ideas about Emiratis.

Mohammad Suhail AlBanna (from left), Zainab AlHammadi, Maryam AlMansoori, and Sarah AlHammadi are part of a group of Emiratis launching a new magazine produced by locals. Their goal is to educate residents and visitors to the UAE about their culture, history and people.
Mohammad Suhail AlBanna (from left), Zainab AlHammadi, Maryam AlMansoori, and Sarah AlHammadi are part of a group of Emiratis launching a new magazine produced by locals. Their goal is to educate residents and visitors to the UAE about their culture, history and people.

DUBAI // The team behind a new magazine being launched tomorrow plan to challenge stereotypes about Emiratis.

The first issue of Emirates Diaries will be unveiled at an event at Zayed University in Dubai, where its co-founders, Maryam Al Mansoori and Mohammad Al Banna, are studying public relations, marketing and communications.

“There is a stereotype,” said Ms Al Mansoori, 19, from Dubai. “A lot of people think that the locals here don’t do anything, we’re lazy and we don’t have a lot of talent. We actually do – but no one is really showcasing that.

“Our aim is to show people who are not Emirati that we are not only consumers, we are also producers. We have 10 different sections in the magazine, ranging from the arts to history to fashion to health and fitness, and we’re trying to relate every article to the UAE.

“For example, we will talk about the individuals who make a difference in the UAE, the businesses that have started here and the history of the names of the different emirates.”

The magazine is being written, illustrated and designed by a team of Emirati volunteers aged between 17 and 23 who are working without any professional help.

Most of the magazine is in English, but there is an Arabic section featuring poetry and articles about the history of the UAE.

The 120-page launch issue, which is numbered “0”, has been produced as a test to check for problems and pitfalls. It is A4 size and 1,000 copies have been printed on glossy paper for the launch event.

It will be followed in three months by issue one, which will have a print run of about 5,000 and will be distributed through coffee shops, libraries and other outlets across the UAE.

The venture is being supported by commercial sponsors.

The team plans to hold talks with petrol retailers, Etihad Airways and Emirates airline in the hope that they may distribute the magazine.

“When people come from outside the country, we’d like them to be able to read about it before arriving here,” said Ms Al Mansoori.

“It has been really difficult to find Emirati editors for the magazine. We searched for people in different universities with a bachelor’s degree or something related to editing so they can help us out.

“This was hard, as not a lot of Emiratis can do that.

“Producing the magazine has been very hard – but fun at the same time.”

csimpson@thenational.ae