On 1 June this year, United Arab Emirates media major Al Nisr Publishing in Dubai, publisher of the Gulf News and a game-changer in the newspaper sector in the Middle East and beyond, started printing this prominent newspaper title and other products in waterless offset on a multi-unit Cortina with both coldset and heatset capabilities. The highly automated web press is the first Cortina installation outside Europe. Its inauguration marked a change of format for the Gulf News to the Berliner format, which is rapidly gaining ground in the international newspaper industry.
The double-wide, one-around hybrid press, which the investment-friendly media house selected after rigorously screening the technology available on the market, was installed along with cutting-edge Ferag mailroom systems in a new high-tech production plant on an industrial estate approximately 60km (37½ miles) outside the city, in the middle of the desert. It comprises twelve reelstands, twelve towers, four thermal dryers and three folders, and has a total capacity of either 96 full-colour Berliner format broadsheet pages or 192 tabloid pages in A4-plus format. Of these, up to 32 broadsheet or 64 tabloid pages can be produced in heatset mode. The Gulf News is printed partly on standard newsprint running through eight coldset towers, and partly on semi-coated stock, for which the remaining four towers operate with thermal dryers.
Superb quality and outstanding production flexibility
The ability to produce heatset and coldset webs via a common folder allows the press not only to print the English-language Gulf News with the superior ad quality that is part of its appeal, but also other hybrid products with an enhanced visual impact. Coldset and heatset products such as supplements and magazines can also be delivered via different folders. Irrespective of the production mode, the inks applied in all the waterless Cortina's towers are identical, which means that no change of ink is necessary when switching to a different type of stock. This delivers enormous flexibility and productivity gains compared to conventional wet offset presses with integrated thermal dryers. Detail definition and colour brilliance with the waterless offset Cortina are intrinsically high, as was recently demonstrated once again by the outstanding rankings of seven European Cortina users accepted for membership of the International Newspaper Color Quality Club from 2012-2014.
Pioneering spirit a long tradition at Al Nisr Publishing
The Cortina's inauguration paves the way for the expansion of waterless newspaper production beyond Europe and into the Middle East, and is a renewed demonstration of Al Nisr Publishing's tireless pioneering spirit, so vital for the newspaper industry. Managing director Obaid Humaid Al Tayer is visibly delighted with the performance of the new high-tech press and the quality it delivers. When placing the order he said: “For years we have driven advances in newspaper production on the Arabian peninsular with groundbreaking innovations. For example, the Gulf News was the first newspaper in the region to include weekly tabloid magazine inserts for leisure activities, families and younger readers, and to adopt a modern layout with in-depth business and sports sections. It was also the first to print small ads separately in special tabloid supplements, to produce certain sections in heatset on coated stock, to automate page production and to use recycled newsprint. With the innovative KBA Cortina we are planning to expand our acknowledged pole position in the Middle East. This high-tech press will enable us to respond with even greater agility to market demands, both in our main product, the Gulf News, and in our numerous supplements and magazines, while enhancing their high quality still further. From the economic perspective, the reduction in makeready times, waste, maintenance and labour input associated with the Cortina's automation and cutting-edge technology - which include KBA PlateTronic automatic plate changers and CleanTronic washing systems - was a key criterion influencing our investment decision. After just a few weeks of production we are confident that we shall achieve this objective.”
Hugely successful Emirates media group
Established in 1978 as a tabloid title with a daily circulation of some 3,000 copies, the Gulf News converted to broadsheet in the 1980s. Distributed not just in the United Arab Emirates but also in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan, the English-language title is published seven days a week and now has a daily circulation of over 120,000 copies. The print edition was joined by an online edition in 1996 (www.gulfnews.com). Alongside magazines such as Friday, InsideOut, Aquarius, Alpha, Wheels, Scene and the weekly tabloid Xpress Al Nisr Publishing runs two English-language radio stations and is also heavily engaged in cultural and sporting activities.