Today, it is with great sadness that we publish our 3,140th issue – the final edition of 7DAYS newspaper.
The end of an era… a huge blow to media in the UAE… a Dubai institution gone… Not our words, but yours.
They are just some of a huge number of messages posted and sent to us since the closure of 7DAYS was announced and we appreciate them all.
There have been a few ‘good riddances’ too of course – we’re not loved by everyone. And that’s OK with us, because 7DAYS was never about being popular.
It was never about toeing the line or regurgitating press releases or prostituting our editorial.
7DAYS was about starting conversation, prompting discussion, questioning things, celebrating successes, having a laugh sometimes and, most importantly, always providing a platform for opinion.
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In the nearly 14 years since we burst onto the scene as a weekly newspaper, I firmly believe 7DAYS has helped change the face of media, in particular news reporting, here in the UAE.
When we arrived in 2003, it was a rather stale two-horse town for English-language newspapers. Then 7DAYS appeared – the maverick, the independent, the cheeky one that steered clear of international politics and pointless pictures and instead focused on crime, social and lifestyle issues, news that mattered to the 200 plus nationalities calling Dubai home.
Oh – and we were free and right there on your doorstep. We irritated the authorities at times, not to mention our competitors, but very quickly had a loyal following from across the UAE’s eclectic demographic.
In the early days, when we were establishing our editorial personality, we would ask ourselves in news meetings: ‘Will they be talking about this in the … continued from page one If the answer was yes, it would be a contender for the cover. Did we get it wrong sometimes – you bet we did.
But we got it right a lot too and as we matured, we honed our voice and became what we are today, a respected member of the UAE media community, much loved by our readers and commercial partners.
Over the years we have produced some outstanding content and putting together today’s final issue has really brought that home as we have sifted through our favourites.
One of the earliest stories I recall, one that really demonstrated how 7DAYS approached issues from a different angle, was when we sent our reporter to dig a hole in the desert at Midday during August.
This was 2004, before the Midday break law had been introduced and we wanted to highlight the effects of working outside in the blistering heat at that time of year. Our reporter, Joseph, dug for an hour and then we sent him to hospital for tests. Doctors declared him severely dehydrated and immediately put him on a rehydration drip.
He’d only done ‘mocked-up’ work for an hour – what about the thousands of labourers toiling away on sites across our busy city? It was a hugely important issue to draw attention to and clearly the authorities agreed too.
One year later, a new law banning working outside during the summer months from Midday to 4pm was introduced. And has been firmly enforced since.
It’s just one of many, many such stories of which the whole team here is rightly proud and one of many landmarks that we have been privileged to cover in 14 eventful and progressive years for the UAE.
The death of the country’s founding father HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the launch of a national airline and the sensational growth of Emirates, the building of the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah, the first FNC elections, the Dubai Metro, and winning Expo2020 – it has certainly been a remarkable time to be a news organisation here.
One of the questions I am most often asked is, ‘How do you get away with some of your stories?’ The answer is, if you do your job properly and thoroughly, work closely with authorities such as Dubai Police when relevant and always attempt to present balance, there is nothing to get away with.
Our job has been to inform, entertain, engage and inspire you – and I believe we have done that.
So, we sign off with great sadness that we will not be around to cover the next chapter in this extraordinary country’s history.
We hope that our colleagues in the media industry here take up the baton from where we leave off and continue to cover the stories and issues that you care about and deserve to hear about.
And we hope that you will continue to drive conversation by writing to the newspapers, calling in to the radio stations and debating issues on social media. There is always plenty to talk about.
I’d like to thank our fantastically talented team here at 7DAYS HQ. Even in the face of recent adversity and with impending redundancy hanging over their heads, they have rallied to do everything we have asked of them over the last few weeks of our existence, culminating in this special issue, which we hope you enjoy.
I’d like to thank our many commercial partners for all their support throughout our journey. And we’d all like to thank YOU.
7DAYS would have been nothing without you – writing letters, posting comments and sharing your stories. It’s over to you now to keep the conversation going…