Feature

Middle East: Special Report

The Gulf gold rush is on. A rampant economy is turning up money-making opportunities everywhere you turn, and everyone is eager to grab their nugget.

Adspends rocketed by nearly 20 per cent last year, according to the Pan Arab Research Center, and, just as surely as the muezzin calls his first Adhan at dawn, so new media outlets are springing up in abundance.

The biggest launch is The National from the government-backed Abu Dhabi Media Company - the first English-language newspaper for Abu Dhabi and the most significant media entrant ever in the UAE. It has swept up the best talent with reputedly high salaries and is bound to pull in the ad bucks.

UK newspaper owners may well be crying into their forecasts when they survey this scene: with generally low internet penetration, this is a land where print still reigns. And so Arab publishing houses like the Arab Media Group are expanding; others such as the Emirates Neon Group are moving into media and international players are also arriving (the Financial Times debuted in May).

For advertisers looking to target women, the subject of our feature on page 27, the English-language Emirates Woman and Viva slug it out in the UAE, with Ahlan! providing alternatives in English and Arabic. And, as a further reflection of a changing society, Saudi Arabia's Sayidaty has added an English version, after research showed that even though Arabic women might read in Arabic, they will often speak in English and be Western-educated.

But with such a scramble for the Klondike, the results are inevitable. Some of those fought-after nuggets are destined to glister in the sunshine; others, meanwhile, will turn out to be merely brown stones.