Forbes Middle East acknowledged the achievements of editors-in-chief and other key figures from daily newspapers that earned the top spots on Forbes Middle East's latest ranking of Top Media Online in the Arab World.
The special event which was held in Dubai on Wednesday, welcomed high profile individuals from the media industry as well as over 200 business leaders from private and public companies from across the UAE and wider region.
In addition to the awards ceremony, this event also witnessed the unveiling of the front covers for the latest issues of Forbes Middle East in both Arabic and English.
Taking to the stage to reveal the magazines were Sami Al Qamzi, Deputy Chairman and Director of Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) and Dr. Nasser bin Aqeel Al Tayyar, President of Arab Publisher House, the exclusive publisher of Forbes Middle East.
Dhaen Shaheen, Director-General for Publishing at DMI and Executive Director and Chief Editor at Al Bayan Newspaper, and Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief at Gulf News, also took to the stage, contributing to the success of the event.
"We are so happy to reveal this list for the third time. We believe strongly in supporting the media and emphasising the importance of its role, which is greater now more than ever," said Dr. Nasser bin Aqeel Al Tayyar, President of Arab Publisher House, the exclusive publisher of Forbes Middle East.
Commenting on this year's list, Khuloud Al Omian, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Middle East, said: "In comparison with last year, it is clear that print media is making strong progress in terms of content, quality and appearance. Furthermore, it is embracing technological advancements to further develop the publishing sector and enhance the traditional media that journalists and readers are so attached to."
Al Omian also expressed that, through this list, Forbes Middle East highlights the key role media is playing in spreading awareness among local communities regarding economic and social development.
She also explains that by making strides in the realm of cyberspace, media in the Arab world is initiating positive change both within the industry and society.
However, the editor-in-chief stresses that we should also increase support for long-established media outlets that have played a vital role in shaping the world we live in today, documenting history along the way.
Dhaen Shahin, Editor-in-Chief of Al Bayan and Publishing Manager at Dubai Media Incorporated, said: "Forbes Middle East rankings and subsequent awards are renowned for their objectivity, accuracy and credibility amongst well-known journalism institutions. This ranking and the awards encourage us to develop the professionalism and performance of our website, spurring us to use new technologies which have been vital to our success."
While Al Ahram from Egypt topped the overall list of Top Newspapers Online in the Arab World, where number of visits to each website is concerned, fellow Egyptian newspaper, Al Youm Al Sab'ea, came out on top by a significant margin, with total visits reaching 842.84 million during the one year research period, ending 31st August 2012. The newspaper was followed in second place by Al Riyadh from Saudi Arabia which recorded 123.94 million visits during the same period.
Ranking third in terms of total visits was Algeria's Echourouk el Youmi with 79.17 million visits, with the UAE's Gulf News following in fourth place with 77.12 million. Rounding out the top five is Al Ahram, which recorded a total of 74.52 million visits. The top ten for total visits included entries from six countries with the UAE recording three newspapers online and KSA and Egypt recording two. Algeria, Kuwait and Jordan are all featured with one listing each.
When the overall ranking is broken down by unique visitors, it paints a slightly different picture. The top ten are dominated largely by KSA with four newspapers, followed closely by Egypt and the UAE both with two. Algeria and Jordan follow with a single newspaper each. Egypt leads the pack with the Al Youm Al Sabe'a newspaper recording an impressive 145.11 million unique visitors at the close of 31 August 2012. It is followed closely by KSA's Al Riyadh earning second place with 35.52 million, and Al Ahram with 31.15 million in third. Rounding out the top five newspapers in terms of unique visitors are Jordan's Al Rai Daily with 27.83 million in fourth and Echourouk el Youmi in fifth with a total of 21.86 million unique visitors.
As for new visits to each site, the strongest results emerged in the bottom half of the main ranking, with the highest percentage of new visits at 67.11 per cent belonging to Oman's Al Rroya, which ranked last on the overall list of top newspapers online.
Working back up the main ranking, however, The National from the UAE which ranks in 15th place overall came in second where new visits are concerned with newcomers accounting for 60.76 per cent of its total traffic.
In third place is Felesteen from Palestine with 57.72 per cent, followed by KSA's Arab News in fourth place with 57.20 per cent. Ranking fifth is Annahar from Kuwait, with new visitors accounting for 55.74 per cent of its total visits for the year. The top ten also featured two entries from Lebanon and one each from Iraq and Libya, as well as a second entry from KSA with Saudi Gazette.
While there is a small presence of online news channels on the ranking, quantity is trumped by quality. Three entries feature with the UAE, Qatar and Russia each represented.
With just three entries featured on this ranking of the Top News Channels Online, quantity is trumped by quality. Reigning supreme is the UAE's Al Arabiya which recorded the highest number of online visitors with an impressive figure of 306.63 million, as well as 69.05 million unique visitors between 31st August 2011 and 31st August 2012. Al Arabiya also achieved new visits of 21.48 per cent.
Following in close second is Al Jazeera recording 277.89 million visits to its webpage, as well as 55.71 million unique visitors. Qatar's premier news service also achieved the highest average time spent on their website 10 minutes and four seconds as well as the highest average number of pages per visits with a figure of 3.49.
Lastly Russia-based Rusiya Al Yaum, which is headquartered in Moscow and broadcast in Arabic, makes an appearance on this list. The news channel surprises, albeit with a small following of 50.11 million visitors to the website, and 26.40 million unique visitors. The website is gaining momentum; according to Google Analytics data, Rusiya Al Yaum recorded a new visit rate of 51.37 per cent, the highest amongst the three online tv channels.
News sites took the lion's share of the ranking with 52.48%. Of the 13 participating news-centered websites providing data, Egypt-based Masrawy topped the ranking, with superior 22.38 per cent social media exposure and strong numbers across the board.
A formidable contender, Saudi Arabia's Sabq boasted the highest number of total visits, at 376 million. Several countries were represented strongly, with the largest presence from Jordanian companies, Ammon News, Khberni, and Saraya News.
Regional sports sites demonstrated their popularity occupying 36.65 per cent of the website ranking. Koora came in first, with over 582 million site visits reported, and an average site visit duration of over seven minutes. Coming in second of five was Yalla Koora, followed by Hi Koora in third. The company with the greatest social media exposure was Gooolonline at 23.38 per cent, putting it in fourth place.
Lifestyle websites took 7.25 per cent of the pie, led by Hawaaworld, a regional site reporting over 142 million visits and an average of nearly nine minutes spent by visitors on the site during the reporting period. Among the five sites in the study, Ana Zahra led in social media exposure with 22 per cent, while Zafafi came in with strong growth, reporting 64.18 new visits. All of the sites posted an average visit duration over five minutes.
The four regional sites focusing on economics, which represented 3.62 per cent of the total ranking were led by Argaam, which raked in 21 million visits during the designated time period and average visit duration of nearly 13 minutes.
Close behind is AME Info in second place, whose 20.9 million views were propelled by 64.77 new visits. The site with greatest social media exposure was Zawya, with 12.75 per cent, securing its fourth place spot.