CAIRO: What’s yellow, glossy and read everywhere? With 40 million readers a month in 31 languages, National Geographic magazine has certainly been read all over the world, but until now, not in Arabic.
But starting Jan. 23, Arabic-speakers will have their own glossy scientific magazines to peruse thanks to the joint production efforts of National Geographic and leading Egyptian publishing house, Nahdet Misr (Egyptian Renaissance).
The two publishers officially launched the first Arabic-language version of the magazine Jan. 13 at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Terrence Adamson, Executive Vice President of the National Geographic Society, told The Daily Star Egypt he hopes the magazine will be a “unifier, a “connection between all parts of the world.
The monthly periodical will target an age range between 10 and 16. Editor Dalia Ibrahim told The Daily Star Egypt that the reason for the wide range was because Egyptian students’ reading abilities vary significantly.
Ibrahim says parents may be interested in some of the magazine content as well, such as articles written by revered Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, or articles on new research.
The first edition of National Geographic Junior features Egypt’s iconic boy-King Tutenkamen on the cover with new research findings inside, as well as articles on technological gadgets, whether animals know love, and superstition, among other light, educational pieces.
Adamson says he is most proud of the Tut article because the Society (with Siemens Corporation) contributed a CAT scan machine to assess Egyptian mummies, including Tut’s, providing new insight into their deaths.
While the magazine’s scope is scientific, Adamson says “That does not mean it can’t be entertaining. The magazine may, for example, use celebrities or popular children’s movies to address educational subjects. A key part of the appeal is visual, “using pictures to tell stories, he says.
Adamson also told The Daily Star Egypt that conservation issues and good practices will be a significant part of the material.
Content will be selected and translated from National Geographic Kids and the denser National Geographic Explorer. Though the first issue is 100 percent borrowed content, Adamson said that the goal is to reach 20 percent original input.
Ibrahim says she wants the Egyptian content to include articles on ancient Egypt, explorations, and inventions. “One of my dreams is to discover [Egyptian] children’s inventions, she says.
It is important to her that there is a national element to the magazine. It should “get people to know [themselves] first.
The project is launching out of Egypt but timing and quantity of distribution in other Arab countries will depend on the success in the Egyptian market. It is also a stepping-stone toward publishing an Arabic version of the adult National Geographic.
Adamson says it is easier to start with the children’s version because of the heavy costs involved with making and purchasing the adult magazine. He also added that with Egypt’s young population, “you go where the money is.
But will the magazine be as popular as it has been in other countries?
Succeeding in the Egyptian market is, as Adamson put it, a “significant and formidable undertaking. To overcome generally low readership, he says they will have to aggressively pursue people to read and see the magazine.
The cost has already been kept relatively low, LE 8, which is “aggressive, according to Adamson, and will yield a small profit margin.
Ibrahim says they will be launching a very large marketing campaign using all media, as well as events in schools, clubs, and hypermarkets starting Jan. 23, when the 25,000 issues of the magazine will be “everywhere.
The National Geographic Society, founded in 1888, includes a channel, educational books, exhibits, and a website, in addition to the periodical, which collectively reach an estimated 360 million people daily.
Nahdet Misr has been in the publishing business since 1938. It is especially involved in children’s literature, such as periodicals Mickey and Winnie-the-Pooh, working in cooperation with Scholastic, Disney, and others.