GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
New Flowering of News Design in the Gulf
Paper Proposal Text :
The last decade has witnessed the emergence of a more highly visible newspaper culture in the Gulf region. Beginning with the re-design of the Gulf News (Dubai) in 2003 by Mario Garcia et al (Garcia Media), newspapers have adapted a design sensibility common to publications in the west, including use of more legible typefaces, greater interplay between text and image, and wider use of information graphics. The new news graphics in the Gulf incorporate visual journalism, or the conveyance of information through visual and verbal, rather than strictly verbal means. Regional readership numbers are growing.
In the process the major dailies of the UAE and Oman (The Gulf News, Khaleej Times, The National, Times of Oman, Al Bayan, Al Shabiba) have called upon international talent for their re-designs, and have attracted international staffs. Among Arabic language newspapers to adapt a more visually oriented design approach are Al Bayan (Dubai) and Al Shabiba, sister publication to Times of Oman (re-designed by Garcia Media).
One indicator of excellence in news design and graphics is recognition in the annual Best of News Design awards given by the Society of News Design. The first Gulf publications to be recognized in this annual competition were The Gulf News and Emirates Business 24/7 in 2007. Just two years later, publications from the UAE garnered more awards in the SND design competition than any other country except the USA and Canada. In 2010 newspapers in the UAE plus the Times of Oman once again placed in the top tier of winning countries.
Given the greater emphasis on the value of visual communication and the growing regional readership, it is worth asking whether these changes reflect broader changes in attitude toward information access and news reporting. Events of the past year including Arab democracy movements would seem to bring with them a greater interest in more open and accessible reporting in print media. To date, the overwhelming majority of awards garnered have been for pages devoted to social or entertainment events; Abu Dhabi’s formula one race, football’s world cup and similar. It remains to be seen whether the new look in print media will have a positive effect on dissemination of hard news, opinion pieces, and creation of a more open information environment in the Gulf.

The proposed research paper will attempt to address the following questions:
• What is the economic backdrop to the increased vitality of Gulf periodicals?
• Given the dependence on international talent, is the new news design a reflection of international trends or does it reflect changes in local visual culture?
• What effect does the new design-led sensibility have on readership among nationals?
• What visual and editorial elements distinguish Gulf publications from like publications in other regions?
• How does the development of visual content in news publications effect the evolution of visual identity in the region?
• In what way has news design effected editorial content in regional newspapers?

Through a review of existing literature and interviews with principals involved with news design in the Gulf, I will attempt to place news design in the context of the changing visual and informational landscape of the region. A short list of individuals to be interviewed include:
Mario Garcia, Principal, Garcia Media
Adonis Durado, Design Director, Times of Oman
Douglas Okasaki, Senior Designer, Gulf News
Miguel Gomez, Art Director, Gulf News
Laura Koot, Managing Editor and Art Director, The National
Steve Dorsey, President, Society of News Design

Partial bibliography:

Holmes, Nigel. Wordless Diagrams, Bloomsbury, 2005.

Tufte, Edward R. Envisioning Information, Graphics Press, 1990.

Emirates Center for Strategic Studies. Arab Media in the Information Age, 2006.

Mellor, Noha et al. Arab Media: Globalization and Emerging Media Industries, Polity, 2011

Hafez, Kai. Arab Media: Power and Weakness, Continuum, 2008.

Rugh, William A. Arab Mass Media; Newspapers, Radio and Television in Arab Politics, Praeger, 2008.

Society for News Design. The Best of News Design Annuals SND 27 through SND 32, Society for News Design and Rockport Publishers, 2006–11,

Society for News Design Region 20, MENA.