Vision caught up with the Vice Chairman of Forbes Media LLC, Christopher ‘Kip’ Forbes, following his most recent visit to Dubai, and he took the opportunity to talk about the new Arabic language edition of Forbes magazine, Forbes Middle East
Forbes is a publishing phenomenon, and continues to have a profound influence on entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and business around the world.
Forbes magazine was launched in 1917 by Hearst newspaper columnist BC Forbes, and today the international flagship publication sells upwards of 900,000 copies an issue.
Every edition of the fortnightly title contains more than 60 original articles, evaluating companies and the people who run them. Articles cover a wide array of topics from the worlds of industry, finance, international business, marketing, law, taxes, science, technology, communications, investment and entrepreneurship but, as a package, the magazine is widely regarded as the champion of capitalism and free enterprise.
In total, the company’s magazine portfolio, which now includes a raft of 15 local-language licensed editions in key territories around the world including China, India and Russia, as well as Forbes Asia and ForbesLife, has a worldwide audience of more than six million readers.
New international editions are launching all the time. Forbes Ukraine and Forbes Bulgaria both debuted in March 2011, and Forbes Africa hit the newsstands in October the same year.
The printed word is only part of the success story, as the business has grown to become a publishing and new media empire. In 2011, the gross revenues from the digital part of the business even exceeded those from printed editions.
Forbes.com is one of the leading websites on the web, and its portfolio of websites reaches nearly 20 million business decision makers each month.
Unbeknown to BC Forbes, when he launched the first Forbes title he was in the process of creating a huge privately owned media dynasty, where editorial and management control would be handed down from generation to generation and kept within the family. Nearly a century on, Steve Forbes is Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, and his three brothers – including Christopher ‘Kip’ Forbes as Vice Chairman – are also in key positions.
Visiting Dubai Q&A
Kip Forbes was in Dubai for the World Cup at Meydan, and spent the weekend finding out more about what Dubai has to offer in 2011. He says that the emirate has changed beyond belief since he first started visiting the UAE in the early 1990s.
“My most recent trip has really enhanced my perception of Dubai, and showed me how far it has come in a short time frame.
“The first time I visited was around 20 years ago and when I returned a decade later, I was stunned. This time I really got to see that Dubai isn’t just somewhere superficial, but that it has made a quantum leap.”
Q: Bearing in mind that Forbes magazine is a champion of free enterprise, was Dubai the obvious choice to be the home of the new Middle East edition?
A: Clearly Dubai and the UAE are the obvious choice for Forbes. Now especially, given the turmoil in the Middle East, Dubai looks even better.
Q: You launched Forbes Middle East last year, with an initial circulation of 25,000. Has Dubai proved to be a good home for the title, and if so why?
A: Yes, the edition is moving on target. Aside from my last comment about the turmoil elsewhere, Dubai works because it has a strong labour pool of trained people and expatriates. Doing business here is much easier, and access to the city is also much better than to other Middle East cities.
Q: How does the local edition/publisher work with the Forbes mother ship in the US?
A: The local publisher, Arab Publisher House, uses some of the content from Forbes US that is appropriate for a Middle East audience. In addition, Forbes works with our partner to ensure that our lists are accurate for billionaires and global companies. There is also some cross-border advertising.
Q: Forbes Middle East is being published in the Arabic language. Most international publishers stick with the English language. Your move is very brave, and very exciting, for the region.
A: Yes, we believe it is important to serve as many qualified readers of Forbes as possible. Publishing in Arabic helps to achieve that goal. Hopefully we can inspire the next Middle Eastern billionaire!
Q: How does Forbes view the changing world?
A: The basic Forbes philosophy of entrepreneurship, success, less government, capitalism and freedom are universal. What we do see is a younger generation of entrepreneurs growing out of emerging economies.
Q: What’s the focus of the Middle Eastern edition?
A: The same as anywhere around the world: we are the Capitalist Tool.
Q: Will the local publisher be using Emirati writers, commentators and thought leaders?
A: Yes, a lot of our content comes from the local team, and it is an important part of any of our local editions.
Q: Is Forbes Middle East keeping an eye on any particular local companies or individuals?
A: We are always looking for successful business people and entrepreneurs. We are interested in those people who not only thrived before the recession, but survived, and how they did it.
Q: Those living and working in Dubai regard it as a land of opportunity. Now you are here, do you agree?
A: Of course. The slowdown in all world economies also hit here in Dubai and, as such, affected some of the opportunities that had been available before. That being said, it is still a land of opportunity.
Q: What’s does the future hold for Forbes Middle East?
A: There will be a website in Arabic, the next step in our growth plan for the Middle East.
Q: Will you be back soon?
A: Yes I hope to visit at least once a year. And, as I am chair of the International Friends of the Louvre, I think I will be visiting the UAE a little more once the [Louvre Abu Dhabi] museum opens. It’s yet another good excuse to come over.
A family affair: The Forbes dynasty
After the death of founder BC Forbes in 1954, his son Bruce Forbes became President of Forbes; son Malcolm S Forbes became Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, becoming President upon Bruce’s death in 1964. After Malcolm Forbes’s death in 1990, his eldest son, Steve, was given the titles of President and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes, and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine. He was given the additional title of Chairman in 2008.
Under Kip’s brother Steve, the company has undergone unprecedented growth. Forbes became the leading US business magazine in terms of advertising pages, and its parent company launched a variety of new ventures, including Forbes Asia and Forbes.com.