Forbes Middle East welcomes Senior Editor

Hershey Pascual has joined Forbes Middle East as Senior Editor, a role in which she will edit bimonthly special editions of the magazine and write reports for main issues. Hershey will focus on health and beauty, luxury fashion, real estate, tourism, investments, aviation, super cars, technology and SME.

With 14 years experience in lifestyle, travel, fashion, health and beauty journalism, Hershey has worked across some of the UK’s most respected publications including OK! Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Elle magazine and The Harrods Magazine. Hershey also has her own online luxury handbag company,, which she launched in October 2014.

“I’m delighted to be working for one of the leading magazines in the world,” says Hershey. “I look forward to editing the special editions of Forbes Middle East that will focus on a range of particular, informative topics.”

Saffron magazine

Team TMN sits down with Madhu Arora, Publisher of Saffron Magazine, to find out more about Saffron Media Works’ latest publication, ahead of its launch next month…

So we hear Saffron will be one of the newest additions to the print magazine offerings in UAE. When will it launch?
The magazine officially launches on May 1st, however there will be a launch party on April 29th.

What is the concept behind Saffron?
Conceptually, Saffron is a holistic South-Asian and Arab centric publication that is designed to entertain, inform and empower.

 What made you decide to launch Saffron?
A market survey that we did last year revealed the absolute paucity of home grown publications. Local magazines are very, very few and far between. Most magazines on the shelf are properties that have been imported and then tweaked to suit local sensibilities. We felt that there is a definite need for a magazine made in Dubai, for Dubai.

What are the main features of the magazine?
The magazine, we like to believe, has pretty much taken most sensibilities in to consideration. It is not a niche or interest-specific publication.

Will Saffron be available online, or exclusively as a print publication?
Initially, just the print version will be available. The online will follow in a bit. However, the magazine will have a very strong social media presence to keep its readers both informed and engaged.

Who is Saffron’s target audience?
The target is fairly broad but mainly directed at the South Asian and Arab readers. Asians, specifically Indians rank the highest within UAE’s population followed by Arabs. We want to cater to the mass population in the region through our magazine and have devised our content strategy accordingly.

Will you be working with a dedicated editorial team, or are there opportunities for freelancers?
Currently we have a happy blend of both, leaning more towards the dedication of the editorial team. Freelancers are welcome to contribute to the magazine as well.

How can PR’s get involved?
PR professionals will have a lot of opportunities to work with the magazine. The official launch event will offer a great interaction opportunity for PRs to meet the editorial team. We are very open to receiving any information that they might have.

Are there any future plans for Saffron, once it has been launched?
There are absolutely tons. The challenge in-house at the moment is actually to prioritise. and DDFC launch Fashion Prize and the Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) have announced the formation of the – DDFC Fashion Prize, an annual endowment for the Middle East’s most promising fashion talents.

The – DDFC Fashion Prize has been launched in partnership with luxury e-commerce site Farfetch, and addresses the DDFC’s mandate to invigorate regional talent. It will provide a global platform for emerging Middle Eastern designers to showcase their abilities, while simultaneously establishing quality control, standards, mentorship and broader visibility for the industry.

The prize will be overseen by a selection committee comprising of executives from, DDFC, Farfetch, and both regional and international fashion communities, including: Tim Blanks – Editor,, Peter Dundas – Creative Director, Roberto Cavalli, Zuhair Murad – Founder and Designer, Zuhair Murad, Stephanie Horton – Chief Marketing Officer, Farfetch, Nez Gebreel – CEO, DDFC, Shashi Menon – CEO and Publisher,, Sofia Guellaty – Editor-in-Chief,, Patrick Chalhoub – Joint CEO, Chalhoub Group and Afef Jnifen – International model, presenter, and brand ambassadress.

The inaugural winner will be announced this autumn. The winning designer will receive a financial grant, the opportunity to produce a capsule collection for Farfetch, a year of mentorship from a collection of highly esteemed mentors, media/press coverage and an advertising campaign, collectively representing a value of over US $250,000.‘s vision has always been to elevate the regional fashion scene to a truly global level – and to increasingly bring the world to this region,” says Shashi Menon, CEO and Publisher, “The – DDFC Fashion Prize represents the culmination of years of effort and is another step we’ve taken to provide our burgeoning fashion ecosystem with the structure it needs to truly take flight.”

Full entry and application details can be found at

Beauty is more than paint deep

An SUV seems to be a pre-requisite for expat life in Dubai, but finding one that not only looks the part, but comes with all the mod-cons necessary for urban everyday life seems to be almost impossible. Until Team TMN discovered Lexus’ latest luxury compact offering that is…

What: The Lexus NX F Sport 

Where: Showrooms across the Middle East

When: Launched February 2015

The promise: “The Lexus NX F Sport combines design, intuitive technology and a potent turbo drive engine to take on whatever urban adventure comes your way”

Did it deliver? Driving in the UAE can be a stressful experience, especially at rush hour on the infamous Sheikh Zayed Road. So when we heard the tech wizards at Lexus had created the new NX F Sport’s four door compact SUV with a two-litre turbo engine, 235 brake horsepower, four-cylinder engine and some fancy new gadgets to make our driving experience more enjoyable, we just had to check it out.

The F Sport has a futuristic and aerodynamic look, with curves in all the right places and a body that will certainly turn heads. The old saying could go, ‘beauty is only paint deep’, but this compact crossover has a beautiful interior to match that’s both practical and slick. The hand-stitched leather seats have built-in air conditioning in the headrest and base for those extra hot days, with heating elements for when it gets cooler.

Just hit the NX F’s ignition button and you’re automatically maneuvered into one of three pre-sets for your preferred driving position. The smart-steering wheel allows you to effortlessly control the CD, radio or Aux and talk hands free via the built in blue-tooth. Some dashboards can be guilty of being over-complicated, but Lexus have combined practicality and style in order to produce easy to navigate cockpit controls and functionality. The built-in computer can take a bit of time to work out but, after a little time and patience, becomes as user-friendly as the rest of the car.

The Lane Departure Alert (LDA), with steering control, warns the driver with a buzzer and on a multi-information display if it judges that the vehicle is about to cross the lane markings without using turn signals. Blind spot sensors in the wing mirror are incredibly helpful, as they flash amber when other vehicles are sneaking up on you. The ‘Heads-Up’ feature is also a nice touch, and means you can keep your eyes on the road because vital information like speed and navigation are projected onto your lower windscreen. This car even tells you when your tires need a top-up!

State of the art reversing technology makes the trickiest of car-parking spaces an absolute piece of cake, and there’s plenty of boot space for the weekly big shop, or round of golf, and the rear seats fold almost flat so it’s even easy to throw the bikes in! Luckily team TMN didn’t need to experience the airbags, but we’re assured they are there and ready for action if called upon.

The Lexus NX F Sport is a very smart and intuitive car, with dynamic radar cruise control to automatically match your speed with the vehicles around you. The pre-crash safety system will automatically tighten your seatbelt if an impact is imminent, making the vehicle extra-safe, and with boundless energy thanks to the 2-litre turbo engine it’s also eco-friendly. Multiple USB ports to charge mobiles and even a wireless tray compatible with numerous devices make the car functional and perfect for those of us who are constantly on-the-go.

The Verdict:  In a world of smart phones and predictive text, Lexus have produced a compact SUV to match our lively and hectic lifestyles. With prices starting from AED 160,000 for the regular model and AED 180,000 for the F Sport model, they are both luxurious but affordable, effortless and fun.

Are content creators cashing in on tragedy?

Do content creators take advantage of tragic events to promote their own content, or are they simply using them to highlight pressing issues?

YES Says Salwa Andraos, Senior Account Manager, LiquidThread 

Salwa“It is no longer a question of whether or not content creators are cashing in on tragedy, but rather, of how they are doing it”

Unfortunately, yes, most content creators nowadays are cashing in on tragic events to promote their own content. Whether we like it or not, this is the truth of the matter. It is no longer a question of whether or not content creators are cashing in on tragedy, but rather, how they are doing it.

Content creators fight the daily battle of staying timely and ultra-relevant; and newsjacking – capitalising on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success – is one way of creating a twist that grabs the public eye when it is widest open. As trending topics change and attention spans get reduced every day, it is often easy for pieces to get buried under an avalanche of new content. So, if you want your content to get noticed, then you might as well take advantage of content that’s already getting noticed – be it good, bad, happy, sad, ugly or tragic.

I’m all in for newsjacking with the purpose of creating and promoting your own content; brands, producers, filmmakers and content marketers have been doing it for years – and successfully at that, more often than not. However, this requires heightened sensitivity and responsibility – characteristics that some content creators have failed to demonstrate, especially when it came to their take on tragic events.

Take, for instance, MH17 Strikes Back, the game that was released on the heels of one of the worst air disasters in modern history. Trying to cash in on the terrible tragedy, the game appeared just hours after the Malaysian Airlines’ flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Shockingly, it allowed players to fly a passenger jet through a war zone, avoiding missiles and returning fire on the enemy – as I mentioned, appalling.

Locally, we’re still trying to wrap our heads around how to benefit from tragic and trending topics while treading the line of cultural and social sensitivities. And in this regard, hats off to the young Saudi generation that has succeeded in doing just that through sheer satire on YouTube.

In the wake of a Saudi woman being caught driving and getting severely punished for it, Alaa Wardi, a Saudi-based artist and comedian, along with his team re-wrote Bob Marley’s classic, No Woman, No Cry, to protest the ban on women driving in the kingdom. Dubbed “No woman No Drive”, the music video played a dual role by, one, highlighting a pressing issue and, two, driving audiences to download more of Wardi’s music & videos.

At the end of the day, content creators are going to cash in on tragedy. Let’s just hope they go about doing it with class, intelligence and sensibility.


NO, Says Faris Al Jawad, sub-editor, Gulf News

FarisAlJawad“To say that the content managers’ sole aim is to cash in on tragedy seems cynical and unfair” 

Bad news is good news, so it’s been said. ‘Small earthquake, no-one dead’ isn’t going to sell newspapers or get web hits. ‘Mass disaster, thousands perish’? Now, that’s more like it. Watch your figures rise! This may be the traditional view of content managers; cashing in on tragedy, whooping as body counts rise, hoping that things get worse before they get better. And I’m sure for some organisations there’s an element of truth in this cliché. The bigger the catastrophe or disaster, the bigger the headline, and in turn the bigger the sales/likes/shares.

However, in my opinion, to say that the content managers’ sole aim is to cash in on tragedy seems cynical and unfair. Some might say that it is idealistic, but the idea of sharing and communicating the causes and consequences of tragedy, to me at least, suggests a possibility of educating readers, and perhaps in turn creating change or prevention of future tragedies.

Take the latest horrors that occurred in Gaza last summer. With social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook, readers/viewers had minute to minute updates of the situation from civilians on the ground in the warzone. Consequently, people were seeing a side to the conflict that perhaps they never had before. The victims of the horrors were able to share their voice. Could it not be argued, that, without the widespread circulation of this content, perhaps the war would have dragged on for longer and on an even more severe scale? The massive public outcry from around the world against the brutal bombing and killing of innocent civilians in Gaza surely put some pressure on the Israeli government to end the conflict.

Reportage on tragedies sparks discussion, analysis, and potentially development. Recently Friday magazine ran a story about the documentary India’s Daughter, which focuses on the 2012 gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi, and the backward, sexist and brutal attitudes towards women that are ingrained in parts of Indian society. This story is undoubtedly tragic in every sense. The Indian government decided to ban the documentary across India. Is this the right course of action? Are they being noble by banning the film? I say absolutely not. Fundamental changes need to be implemented in India’s education system. Reportage on the problems and horrors that are occurring is vital to these changes. In order to make a positive development, we must understand the root of the cause, and reporting on these tragedies, honestly and ethically, is a step in that direction.

It is, of course, the responsibility of content managers to balance their duty to inform and educate society while respecting the privacy of individuals. Inevitably there are some who violate this moral code, however, there are also many who honour it.


“A true rebrand starts with values and ends with identity”

Npimedia had something of a makeover in 2014. However, when thinking about it, I realised that while our identity was changed last summer, it was the culmination of a rebrand that was several years in the making.

But let’s talk identity to begin with, as it is the simplest part. At NPI, we wanted a stamp and label that would be a reflection of our mantra of ‘Quality, Audience and Transparency’ (QAT). These are the brand values that make our media what it is – exclusive and standout in a competitive market place.

Our previous logo was red and white and simply said NPI. Our new logo is gold and reflects our heritage of being born in the UAE and in Arabic reads as the word “time”. Our business cards are shaped like a label. They have a black background and on one side bear the gold logo, on the other our company details arranged in an ‘X’ pattern to reflect the “exclusive” aspect of our identity, yet in a subtle way.

We also changed our official name. We are still NPI but the full name is npimedia rather than Nicholas Publishing International, which reflected the family-run business that has its roots in print. These days we have one hand in the inkwell and the other is only virtually there, so “media” was a better word to use rather than publishing. Many companies also have the word “international” in them but operate only in a handful of markets – this was true of us and in keeping with our transparency mantra, we dropped this and simply went with npimedia. Each of our products now bear the stamp “Exclusive media by NPI” so our clients know that they will stand out from first glance.

So, that’s the identity part. But a name and a look does not make a company any more than it does a person. Great brands have heritage and are crafted over time. Ours certainly was, but our quest for product perfection had led us to forget the umbrella.

We have leading media portfolios and had been working for several years on the delivery of our corporate mantra (QAT). We had moved to audit every one of our consumer titles and were working towards a new digital strategy. This needed to be reflected in our outward identity to do justice to everything that had taken place behind the curtain.

So, what is a rebrand? It is more than a new name or logo – this is just window dressing that only matters before you are able to see behind the curtain. A true rebrand starts with values and ends with identity.

Art Editor, Sarah Freeman

Name: Sarah Freeman

Age: 34

From: UK

Current Job Title: Art Editor/Photojournalist, Destination of the World News

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
I first arrived in Dubai in October 2008, having previously worked on magazines in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK.

Where did you work prior?
Before joining Destination of the World News I was at ITP Publishing for four years, working across various titles – I was Art Director for Good Housekeeping magazine, VIVA and Emirates Home.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Compared to the likes of London and New York, the media industry in the UAE seems very small; but this is a real advantage when you first move here as it’s less daunting and easier to establish connections and forge relationships. 

Has your opinion changed much?
I’ve had a career break of 15 months, most of which I spent travelling in Central and South America, so I have only returned to Dubai recently. It’s still very much an evolving industry, which is both exciting and frustrating at times. As a lover of all things print, I am very happy this area is still very much thriving and growing in this part of the world.

Tell us about your role at Destination of the World News
My job at DOTWN is very much a hybrid role. I’m taking charge of the creative direction of the brand, its various extensions and writing for the magazine, but principally introducing a photojournalist element to the magazine, which has been missing. The idea is to develop more original photography and I will be responsible for executing photo essay stories, mainly abroad, but also locally in the UAE.

What challenges do you face?
One of the key challenges is finding newly emerging luxury destinations, which is harder than it sounds. Also marrying global travel trends with the travel habits of people living in the GCC. The challenge I have as a photographer is to continually strive to capture, in some cases, a new and original interpretation of a familiar destination, such as the Maldives, and to marry the aesthetics of a luxury destination with story-telling, in one photo essay. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s early days, so you may have to ask me that in six months time! But right now, what’s exciting is to have the creative freedom to take and develop an already established brand, using my travel photography experience to elevate and enhance the product.

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
I think it’s hugely varied. I would like to see more local content and less syndicated material in some of the international brands here. There are some really inspirational homegrown publications, which are pushing boundaries and delivering very original, engaging content.

How do you find PRs in the region?
Much like the previous answer, I find PRs in the region to be a real mixed bag. Some have a wealth of experience and are very on the ball, others seem to be inexperienced and a bit out of their depth.

What’s your pet PR peeve?
A PR that calls you if you haven’t responded to their email within about an hour!

What advice can you offer PRs seeking coverage your magazine?
Understand our product and our distribution channels. We are very much ‘ultra-luxury’ focused, so our market is niche. Our magazine is found in first/business class lounges and 5* hotels. We are very much active on all platforms – online/social media, as well as our print publication. So the idea is for content to be utilised across multiple channels.

Work calls via landline, mobile or both?

Describe yourself in five words…
Creative, energetic, loyal, determined and intuitive. 

What’s your most overused saying?
Shy bairns get nowt.” It’s a saying that originates from the North East of England, where I was born. It more or less translates as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Five things you can’t live without?
Tea, a firm mattress, camera, hand cream and hiking boots.

If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be?
A conservationist. I’m passionate about the environment, love the great outdoors and almost went down the science route, but ended up following my calling to the arts (which I’m very happy about)!

Noura Al Kaabi named fifth most influential Arab

Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of Media Zone Authority and twofour54, Abu Dhabi, has been named the fifth most influential Arab under the age of 40 by Arabian Business Magazine. Noura is the most influential Arab in Media according to the list, which is the magazine’s guide to young Arabs with global influence.

Through her work with the Media Zone Authority, Noura oversees its industry-building initiatives such as the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Abu Dhabi Film Commission and the Abu Dhabi Media Summit. Noura also heads up twofour54, a free zone that provides production facilities, training and business support services to Abu Dhabi’s growing media industry. She is also a member of the UAE’s Federal National Council and the Economic Development Committee.

“I am truly honored to have been selected as one of this year’s 100 most powerful Arabs under 40 by Arabian Business Magazine,” says Noura. “It gives me great pride to be in the company of other Arabs who play a vital role in shaping our culture and our successes in the Middle East. The list is a collective achievement because it reflects an image of excellence and showcases the capabilities of Arabs across the region.”

CPI Financial appoints Chief Executive Officer

Robin Amlôt has joined CPI Financial as Chief Executive Officer. In his new role, Robin will be reporting to the Board of Directors in setting up policy and strategy, as well as managing the company’s sales, editorial and administration teams. Before this promotion, he was with CPI as Managing Editor, a role in which he was responsible for the launch of three new magazine titles: Banker Africa, WEALTH Arabia and FinanceME. Before joining CPI, Robin was a lecturer at The Open University – a distance learning and research university.

“It is an exciting and challenging role that I take on, and I look forward to building on the success of my predecessor, Adam Broom,” says Robin. “We have opportunities to grow the market presence of our magazines and to expand our product range –it’s going to be fun!”