DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — This autumn, Condé Nast International will launch a Vogue Arabia edition, with Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz as its editor-in-chief, marking the publisher’s long awaited move into the Middle Eastern market.
Condé Nast, which has partnered with Dubai-based media company Nervora, will first launch a website in Arabic and English to develop further insight into its audience spanning the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The dual language website will be followed by a print magazine in spring next year.
“It makes sense to start with digital,” Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International told BoF. “In the past, the focus was always to produce the print product first, with the digital product as a secondary play. Now digital is front and centre and at the forefront of any business strategy.”
Launching a website in two languages is a first for the publisher, and will enable Condé Nast to move faster into wider Middle East and North Africa region, where last year the personal luxury goods market grew by 19 percent, reaching €8.1 billion (just over $9 billion), according to a report by Bain and Co.
The decision to finally launch Vogue Arabia is a significant one for Condé Nast, given Newhouse’s controversial comments less than 10 years ago dismissing a proposal to launch a Vogue Middle East because of the region having “an element that rejects Western values of freedom of expression, equality for women and expression of sexuality.”
“The time has come to make it a reality,” said Newhouse, adding that the company had decided to explore the market with its Condé Nast Traveller and Architectural Digest brands, before building the confidence to consider launching a Vogue in the Middle East.
“In the last 10 years, the interest in high fashion brands and products has grown enormously. We at Condé Nast International hear it from our advertisers,” Newhouse said, noting the success of international fashion events and the growing number of luxury shopping outlets in the region such as the Dubai Mall, Rubaiyat Department Store in Riyadh and Abdul Aziz al-Rabban’s Place Vendome Qatar, which will open in 2017.
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