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GDN is here to stay, says Khamis Al Muqla

Jun 12, 2018 10:12 AM

MANAMA: The Gulf Daily News (GDN) which together with makes up Bahrain s leading English language media platform is here to stay and ready for the future according to home-grown media and...

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MANAMA: The Gulf Daily News (GDN) which together with makes up Bahrain’s leading English language media platform is here to stay and ready for the future, according to home-grown media and marketing pioneer Khamis Al Muqla.

Looking back to the origins of the GDN, which is celebrating four decades of publishing this year, Mr Al Muqla, who is president of the International Advertisers Association (IAA) Bahrain Chapter, as well as chairman and founder of Gulf Marcom Group and chairman of Hill & Knowlton Middle East, recalled how as Bahrain’s economy continued to boom through the 1970s, it became apparent that national media would have to evolve, both out of editorial necessity and to meet the demands of the increasing number of international advertisers who were trying to establish a presence in the region during the “oil-boom” years.

The first of these newspapers was the Arabic daily Akhbar Al Khaleej, which began publishing in 1976, followed by the Gulf Daily News in 1978.

Since then these two publications have dominated the field as primary communication vehicles for news and advertising, he said.

“Our media mix for an ad campaign had to and still does include these two newspapers for their reach, credibility, reference value, and shelf-life.

He added, “Our relationship with the Gulf Daily News and the Al-Hilal Group in general has been one of immense mutual respect.

“We consider the GDN and its parent Akhbar Al Khaleej, two highly sought-after newspapers of the country, as an essential part of our media recommendations.”

Talking about technology-led disruptions to the media scene, Mr Al Muqla says, “Ever since the Internet exploded onto the media landscape we have seen a sea-change in the industry.

He was pleased to note how the GDN had responded to the changes by introducing new offerings with Arabian Business Community like, GDN’s website - and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“Social media is a whole different ball game,” he said, explaining that from the beginning, it has had a game-changing impact on all of us.

Giving an overview of the medium he said, “Initially social media was simply a method for people to either connect or reconnect with each other.”

But it wasn’t long before creative advertising minds began to use it effectively. And relatively quickly SMM, or Social Media Marketing, has proven its success, it’s strategic and not to say cost-effective in its targeting which cannot be denied, said Mr Al Muqla.

As entrepreneurs and admen are reputed to have an instinctive feel for the future, so when asked where he thought Bahrain’s media scene was headed, Mr Al Muqla said, “This is a tough one.”

“The market is more competitive than ever, driven by easy access due to digital media. Technical advancement means that companies now have to compete with not just local competitors, but also global and regional players. On the other hand, there are more markets available for local companies to expand to. With these changes the Media industry is well poised to grow in the coming years.”

Expressing optimism, he touched on the evolving economic changes in Bahrain and said, “We expect more companies to make Bahrain their hub for the region and beyond (similar to Amazon). This will further help in increasing advertising and media opportunities and should boost the economy as a whole.”

“Digital and online communications is evolving all the time, so it is hard to say what tomorrow holds,” he quipped.

On technology phenomena already unfolding, Mr Al Muqla added, “The medium already incorporates multi-media content that’s interactive. There are businesses that are “crowd-sourcing news”.

This, he said, is seen on many online news sources and is “something that news suppliers or broadcasters – perhaps we will need to change the term we use for them – are using”.

Perhaps the GDN’s online news feed may begin to accept this as a means of news-gathering, said Mr Al Muqla.

“Of course it should always be followed up by fact-checking if news agencies are to retain their credibility.”

The adman said he expects editorial commentary from knowledgeable and respectable sources to begin to feature more prominently.

“We will have to incorporate greater fluidity of content. The technology itself is changing so much that recipients will be able to tailor what they want to receive.”

Mr Al Muqla said journalism and publishing were his first love and his association with media and journalism began much before he decided to focus on public relations (PR) and advertising - his long-standing twin passions.

In 1974, at the age of 27, he founded Gulf Public Relations (GPR), along with Abdulnabi Al Sho’ala and Hassan Al Jishi as partners.

Through a series of evolutions and partnerships with renowned international agencies, it metamorphosed into Gulf Marcom as its known today - a proud affiliate of the Dentsu Aegis Network, a multinational media and digital marketing communications company, headquartered in London, UK.


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