Al Arabiya English’s Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas with the blog editor Eman ElShenawi
Al Arabiya English launched a blog section on its website on April 6 with the aim of instigating debate and focusing on additional subject areas through contributions from a selection of prominent writers.
The new section has attracted a host of international talent, writing on fashion, beauty, career coaching, nutrition and fitness. The page also features sports, politics, business and art bloggers, adding to the range of topics covered to suit a broader audience.
Al Arabiya English’s Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas told attendees at the official launch event, which took place in Dubai on Wednesday night, that the blogs section was designed to shed light on the world beyond the politically-heavy narratives consuming the region.
“Our lifestyle page has become one of the top-three traffic generators to our website and it was through that we had an idea of launching the blogs section as an extension,” Abbas said.
“Although we are known for politics, we thought we’d give those who write on nutrition, sports, and life in general, an opportunity to write for our website,” he added.
Abbas thanked Al Arabiya English’s team and blogs editor Eman ElShenawi for taking on the task of launching the page saying: “All this wouldn’t have been possible without these efforts”.
Promoting new voices
The keynote was presented by Sultan al-Qassemi, a commentator on Arab affairs and art in the region, who launched the section with an inaugural blog piece on why the Middle East must embrace placing art online.
Qassemi recalled the Arab world’s most prominent bloggers and called for the discovery of new blogging talent among the region’s younger generations.
“It’s important for bloggers to instigate debate and reflect the calls of society and present new ideas,” Qassemi said.
“This is where Al Arabiya English comes in. I have a request: Please find new writers and bloggers and find new voices. Hopefully this page will not only be the source for not only nationals in the Gulf but also for any expatriate who lives in this region who has a right to read and reflect about us,” he added.
Attendees at the launch event on Wednesday night included Sulaiman Hattlan of Hattlan Media, veteran Saudi journalist and editor Khaled Al Maeena, founder and chief executive officer of Dragoman Ventures Ali Khedery, the CEO of Mediaquest Julien Hawari, the British Council’s Gulf Communications Manager Sophie Partarrieu, and Twitter’s director of media partnerships for the MENA region Kinda Ibrahim.
Among the Al Arabiya English bloggers at the launch were fashion bloggers Mimi Raad and Carole al-Hajjar, health and nutrition blogger Racha Adib, careers and life coaching blogger Zeta Yarwood, food blogger Monica Kapila, women’s affairs blogger Elda Khanamirian Awad and showbiz and entertainment reporter Rachel McArthur.
Al Arabiya English’s host of bloggers from around the world were also involved in the ceremony, taking part in a “Meet the Bloggers” video which showcased sports blogger Graham Ruthven, parenting blogger Eve Dugdale, Athens-based blogger Yorva Tsiakara, Saudi-based blogger Miles Lawrence and Jordan-based blogger Leen Hajjar.
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