x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Spear's magazine to launch in Middle East

The Life: Josh Spero, editor of Spear's, discusses how the wealth management magazine will be positioned in Dubai for its Middle East debut next month.

Josh Spero, the editor of Spear's, says the Middle East has been important for them in terms of readers and content. Stephen Lock for The National
Josh Spero, the editor of Spear's, says the Middle East has been important for them in terms of readers and content. Stephen Lock for The National

Josh Spero is the editor of Spear's, a wealth management and luxury magazine based in the UK that is expanding into the Middle East next month. Here he talks about preparations for launch.

Tell us about Spear's.

William Cash came up with Spear's, which he wanted to reflect the high net-worth world. Too often, these clients are seen as subjects of parody or "luxury pornography". We cover serious things like investments - not stock picks but trends and ideas - and also the fun things like chic new resorts or the art world. That mix we've tried to maintain ever since.

Spear's already has one international edition in Russia. But why expand into this region?

It's natural to want to expand when the magazine is doing well. The Middle East is always important to us. In terms of readers and content we often deal with places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi and thought it was a natural fit.

You distribute about 30,000 copies in the UK, including in high-end hotels, restaurants and first-class cabins of British Airways. What's your distribution goal and strategy for this region?

We're starting with about 10,000 or 12,000 copies. We have an exclusive distribution network among the top banks, top hotels and are encouraging subscription.

The network includes Dana Jet in Dubai, Emirates NBD and the Ritz Carlton Dubai, among others. But will you have a local office in the region?

We're going to procure it [in the UK] and distribute it [in the UAE].

So you won't have an office with writers in the region?

Not at the moment.

How do you expect to cover the local market if the magazine's not actually based in the UAE?

We have freelancers. It's not news-based. It's not making sure we cover every last detail on the stock exchange. We do trends and ideas. We will have two issues in the Middle East this year. We can manage it fairly well from afar.

What approaches have you taken to get to know this market?

The latest issue of the English one had a Middle East special in it, commissioned with the Middle East edition in mind. We had articles on high net-worth people in Baghdad, the art scene in Beirut.

What cover ideas do you have in the works for the first issue?

It's being developed at the moment. It's not going to be like most magazines. We won't have cover lines. We have illustrations and a band wrap that goes around the magazine with cover lines on it. It gives it a distinctive feel.

Not all magazines that do well elsewhere thrive in the Middle East, how will you succeed?

We know it's not exactly the same as a western or European audience, and we'll have to adapt accordingly. There won't be any articles that would be culturally insensitive. We're very conscious of that. But I think a lot of what we have will be suitable in tone. Of course, we're very anxious to have feedback.

* Neil Parmar