The Middle East

Circulation: 24,000
Date of Birth: 1974
Frequency: 11 per year
Price: $4.95
Website: africasia.com/themiddleeast

By Andrea Palatnik

Just like the region it covers, The Middle East magazine has been through some good times and some bad times.

Launched in 1974, it claims to be the first english-language publication focused on the Middle east that covers not only business and culture but also politics and diplomatic affairs. it gained immediate momentum from the oil crisis that, just one year before, had brought global attention to the region. The early 1980s were also good for the magazine’, with the world’s eyes on the Iran-Iraq war; the magazine’s publisher, iC Publications, had to increase print runs from 28,000 copies to 45,000 to keep up with demand. After the first gulf war, however, interest in the Middle east waned, and as sales declined along with oil prices, the Nineties became a difficult time for the magazine. Nonetheless, it has survived and consolidated its role as one of the most influential publications in the region. “our first interest and mission has always been to defend the point of view of the region and to be the voice of the Middle east,” said afif Ben Yedder, the tunisian entrepreneur and journalist who founded the magazine, in a phone interview from his company’s headquarters in London. (iC Publications has correspondents scattered around the Middle east, africa and europe.) with a current circulation of more than 24,000, The Middle East claims it has readers in more than 100 countries. Published monthly, it can be found on some newsstands in the U.s., with a cover price of four dollars and ninety-five cents, or ordered by subscription for ninety dollars a year (or twenty-eight for the digital ver- sion, which can be downloaded to computers, e-readers, tablets and smartphones).

“We launched The Middle East magazine in english to target the international community who wanted an insight into what was happening in the region, as well as the educated english-speaking arab elite,” said omar Ben Yedder, afif ’s son, who plays a major role in iC Publications, which also has four magazines focused on africa, published in both english and french.

With few ads and a clean layout, each issue ofThe Middle East is a blend of news, finance and lifestyle articles. The main section is divided into “Current affairs” and “Business” departments, featuring well-written stories enriched with broad background information and, in some instances, financial advice for investors.

The December 2011 issue, for example, head- lined a cover story, “goodbye and good Luck,” about the chaos left behind in iraq after the ameri- can retreat last year. The article was critical of not only the invasion itself, pointing out how the war opened space in the region for a much stronger iran, but also of the failed attempts by washington to create a stable and functional political environ- ment. shorter pieces dealt with the aftermath of the arab spring uprisings in tunisia, egypt and Libya.

Even though the editorial line is very analytical in general, expressing clear opinions and conclu- sions about each topic, the pieces are well-sourced and written in a concise, straight-to-the-point fashion that leaves readers convinced that they have been provided with serious insider information that is not available in other news venues.

The articles are preceded by a “News and views” section, with brief items about art exhibitions, movie productions, fashion shows and such novelties as diamond-encrusted luxury cell- phones, all related to one or more of the Middle eastern countries.

And the back of the book has a travel section, which may feature an exotic beach town in saudi arabia, a hyped resort in Dubai or suggestions for a holiday escape to israel. The January/february 2012 issue, for example, hailed the city of sharjah, in the United arab emirates, as a “glittering new destination” for luxury tourism.

The magazine publishes three special issues: “The top 50 Most influential arabs” each summer; “The top 100 Middle eastern Banks” in october; and occasional supplements, like The Middle East Woman, which came out in 2008.

As this is written, The Middle East is going through a transitional process. after the publica- tion of the December 2011 issue, iC Publications sold the magazine to the editorial team that has produced it for twenty years, headed by editor-in-chief Pat Lancaster. The January and february 2012 issues were amalgamated and publication resumed normally in March. There won’t be many changes in the publication, according to afif Ben Yedder, who still is in charge of distribution and writes the editorial that opens the front of the book.

“The magazine will continue to cover the region,” its founder said. “we love what we do and we are very passionate about the region.”

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