Opinion

Why Australia is following major international publishers into the Middle East’s flourishing market

The Middle Eastern and African (MENA) marketplace is growing into a haven for major global publishers. So why is Australia following in their path? Marwan Rahme, managing director of Kanebridge Ltd, explores.

Demographically diverse, and flush with cash, the Middle Eastern and African (MENA) marketplace is fast becoming a mecca for major global publishers keen to capitalise on the region’s growing demand for content – and now Australia is following suit.

Over the past couple of years alone, the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The Economic Times have expanded their press east to offer global and local content to audiences in the flourishing MENA region – which includes the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

For international publishers, the strategic move particularly follows an influx in tech investors across key sectors, which led to the funding of more than 2000 startups over the past five years alone*. And with Dubai in particular set to double its economy in the next decade** via turbo-charged foreign trade and investment to the sum of about USD$8.7 trillion, financial experts have earmarked MENA as one of the globe’s top places for businesses to expand.

So why is this region so lucrative and why are a growing throng of publishers rapidly turning their gaze east?

It’s more than just a matter of oil or even tech, but rather a rich blend of markets, a young demographic (more than half of the MENA population is under 30***) that’s flush with expats and an insatiable appetite for quality publications and ground-breaking news that extends across the Middle East. You simply need to look at the top 10 companies by market capitalisation this year to see just how much wealth sits in MENA and just how diverse that wealth is. While the Saudi Arabian Oil Company – with a market capitalisation of USD$7.25 trillion – sits at the top of that gilded list,**** you’ll also find banks, electric and water authorities, telecommunication groups and developers which paints a compelling picture of just how many eggs sit in a vast array of MENA’s economic baskets.

It’s small surprise the Wall Street Journal last year claimed the Middle East had become ‘the world’s ATM’.*****

Beyond the diverse portfolio of billion-dollar companies, start-ups, and swelling expat populations (more than 9 million of the UAE’s 12.24 million alone are foreign born^) there’s also a gargantuan energy boom^^ that’s further led to the region having a major moment on the world’s financial stage. Research

also tells us that Middle Eastern cities are forecast to clock some of the fastest rates of employment and population growth moving forward, with Gross Domestic Product growth expected to average 1.9 per cent between 2024 and 2050.^^^

Even print publishing has an enormous appetite there, which is why the American press was quick to pounce on MENA and bridge the east to west divide.

Beyond economic news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, there’s particularly growing demand for luxury media publications with Spanish media group Hola! announcing the launch of luxury lifestyle edition Hello! Arabia late last year^^^^.

GQ and Conde Naste have also made a splash in the luxury publication market with a growing throng of Australian publishers likely to follow suit as appetite and wealth further soars.

This month, Kanebridge Media – well-known for its luxury title Robb Report Australia & New Zealand – expanded its print publishing arm to the MENA region with the launch of Kanebridge Quarterly Middle East (ME). The launch comes months after the launch of our online news site Kanebridgenewsme.com, which serves up daily insights and updates on regional and international topics across property, finance and luxury lifestyle trends.

Kanebridge Media aims to quickly positioning itself as the region’s leading go-to reference on property, finance and lifestyle news both locally and internationally. It has robust partnership with Dow Jones brands, The Wall Street Journal, Mansion Global, Barron’s and Penta. Kanebridge Quarterly ME magazine has an anticipated print run of 50,000 by July.

References

*https://stv.vc/insights/en

**https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/uae/dubai-announces-plan-to-double-economy-in-next-decade/articleshow/96742878.cms?from=mdr

***https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/3ced02bf-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/3ced02bf-en

****https://ceoworld.biz/2024/02/14/the-middle-easts-largest-companies-by-market-capitalization-2024/

*****https://www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/the-middle-east-becomes-the-worlds-atm-b172f8f8

^https://www.globalmediainsight.com/blog/uae-population-statistics/

^^https://gcc.re/news/the-renewable-energy-surge-in-the-mena-region

^^^https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/resource/the-long-term-outlook-for-middle-eastern-cities/

^^^^https://www.arabnews.com/node/2417411/media

Marwan Rahme is the managing director of Kanebridge Ltd – which owns Kanebridge Media.

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