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Print vs. Online: Arab Luxury World panel takes on a new age debate

The session was kicked off with panellists agreeing that “print is not going to die,” it will simply evolve

Saffiya Ansari

Published: Updated:

With the dizzying rise of digital media in recent years, industry experts in Dubai sat down to debate whether the online behemoth could one day replace print media at Arab Luxury World, an event which will see more than 100 panelists tackle issues related to the luxury market in the Middle East.

Led by Al Arabiya News’ Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, panelists challenged each other on such issues as digital advertising, the problems it poses, and how the Arab world is faring in relation to the U.S. and Europe.

Panelists included Khaled Zaatarah, a Brands Operations Leader at P&G, Nour Almasri, who heads the Digital Media Department at the Sayidaty Group, Eric Bequin, Managing Director at OMD, and Robert Meede, Founder and Creative Director of Rob & Co.

The session was kicked off with panellists agreeing that “print is not going to die,” it will simply evolve.

While some panellists predicted the death of some print formats - “gossip magazines will probably disappear due to digital media,” Bequin contended – most agreed that magazines and newspapers would simply have to move with the times.

Bequin highlighted the penetration of smartphone usage in the Gulf region, noting it stood at more than 90 percent in at least three Gulf states. “Video views on Facebook stand at two times the global rate,” added Zaatarah, referring to the digitalization of the local consumer market.

All things considered, the panellists agreed, moving brand advertising online is a sound move. However, all agreed that print media had its advantages for the niche luxury market due to sheer staying power – articles and advertising have less competition in print media where blinking tabs and bounce rates are not an issue.

The issue raised by all panellists centred on the young generation which “didn’t grow up reading magazines, but grew up flicking,” explained Meeder.

“Some magazines and newspapers will suffer more than others from digitalization… by the time you see your newspaper in the morning, you’ve already seen it on your mobile in real time,” added Bequin.

Panelists concluded by agreeing print would live on if it could learn to evolve and complement digital media; “connecting both together is vital,” said Zaatarah.

The Arab Luxury World event takes place from June 1-2 and brings together industry leaders from sectors such as watches and jewelry, fashion and accessories, perfumes and cosmetics, premium cars, tourism, art and culture.

The event comes on the back of Chalhoub group’s estimate that the consumer yearly spend on beauty, fashion and gifts per capita in the GCC is close to $30,000, ten times what is being spend in some European countries, making a discussion on the future of the luxury market in the region crucial according to organizers.