Newsweek looks at new Arabic edition after U.S. print revival

Publisher of iconic American magazine exploring ‘a number of foreign-language markets’

Ben Flanagan
Ben Flanagan - Al Arabiya News, Dubai
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The iconic U.S. magazine Newsweek is considering a new Arabic edition as part of expansion plans covering a number of foreign markets.

Newsweek on Friday published its first U.S. print edition in over a year, after going online-only in Dec. 2012 in the wake of a series of financial difficulties.

Newsweek’s relaunch in print form could be followed by new foreign-language editions in other markets, said Zachary Hastings Hooper, spokesman for the magazine’s publisher IBT Media.

“An Arabic-language edition is one of the editions under consideration,” Hooper told Al Arabiya News.

“While IBT Media is not publishing Newsweek in the Arabic language at the moment, we are exploring a number of foreign-language markets for expansion in the near future.”

A previous Arabic-language version of Newsweek was launched by Kuwait’s Dar Al-Watan publishing house in 2000, but is understood to have ceased publication after the financial crisis.

Representatives of Dar Al-Watan did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Al Arabiya News.

Mahmud Shammam, former managing editor of Newsweek Arabic, confirmed that Dar Al-Watan had closed the title after the financial downturn hit.

He told Al Arabiya News that he would like to bring the title back to the region.

“People know and like Newsweek,” he said. “The advertising market for papers and magazines is still going strong.”

Shammam said he planned to visit the U.S. to talk about bringing back Newsweek Arabic, but had not yet been in touch with the publisher. Several other regional magazine executives said they had not been contacted by IBT Media about relaunching Newsweek. It is unclear whether Dar Al-Watan still has any rights over the title.

Newsweek was founded in 1933 and grew to be a giant of the U.S. media landscape. It had a print circulation of three million by the early 1990s, and regional editions around the world.

But the title disappeared from the shelves in December 2012, amid mounting pressure from free online news services.

In August, the New York-based IBT Media bought Newsweek from IAC/InterActiveCorp, which also owns The Daily Beast.

IBT is positioning the magazine as a high-end product, with the print edition of Newsweek being sold for $7.99 a copy in the United States.

Last week’s relaunch did not go smoothly, given that the magazine’s high-profile headline story – which claimed to unmask the founder of the Bitcoin virtual 'currency' – was called into question.

Newsweek said it had discovered that a 64-year-old California man called Dorian S. Nakamoto was behind Bitcoin – a claim that Nakamoto vehemently denies. Some see the issue as a test of Newsweek’s credibility under its new owners, although the magazine stands by its story.

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