The competition in the Malayalam print media in the UAE is getting more intense as the South Indian language newspapers have started attracting the readers with special incentives, gifts and promotions.
The Malayalam newspapers published from the UAE/GCC are also taking out their internet editions to encourage readers to buy hard copies instead of reading the free web editions. For the first time, a free Malayalam weekly Calicut Times has been launched in the UAE market on an experimental basis.
Nissar Sayed, Editor-in-Chief, Siraj Malayalam newspaper, said: "We are engaged in a marathon campaign to increase annual subscription. Our cover price of Dh1.5 per copy is the lowest in the industry as all others are selling at Dh2. As part of our successful completion 1,000 days by Siraj in the UAE. We are offering a discount of Dh100 for new subscribers plus gifts like electronic products, watches, gold coins and air tickets."
He said the advertisement revenue for all Malayalam newspapers is down. He said major newspapers – the Malayalam News, the first Malayalam newspaper published by the Saudi Research and Publication Group in the region and Deepika, a 100 years old Malayalam newspaper, have closed their Dubai editions a few years after launching the UAE editions.
Other experiments such as the Arabia Weekly and Arabia Evening newspaper too closed after a few years due to high cost that could not be met with advertisement revenue. "Thank God and our readers that Siraj has completed 1000 days in Dubai. We hope Siraj will not end up like Malayalam News, Deepika or Arabia."
The launch cover price of Dh1 was increased to Dh1.5 and the internet edition was pulled out to attract more readers to buy hard copies. "Our target is to get 5,000 new subscribers during the current campaign. We have set up 50 readers forums in different emirates and those who bring maximum subscriptions are rewarded with gold coins and air tickets.
He said the launch of free weekly newspapers such as Calicut News will not affect the mainstream Malayalam dailies. Siraj has four editions in Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Calicut and Kannur. It is also considering editions in Qatar and other GCC countries, where there are many readers of the Malayalam newspaper. Gulf Madhyamam too is delaying its internet editions to increase newspaper circulation.
KM Abbas, Editor-in-Charge of Siraj said the newspaper is also conducting media seminars in each emirate with the help of reader's forum.
Abbas, who is co-ordinating the 1,000 days campaign in different emirates said: "In order to get relevant news from various emirates, we have appointed voluntary citizen reporters who are not working for money. We have a good team of reporters network throughout the UAE and other Gulf countries."
He said Risala, a Malayalam weekly published from Calicut, will also be launched in the UAE soon.
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