Read all about it aboard the Dubai Metro

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By Ben Flanagan  www.thenational.ae

A free newspaper aimed at Dubai Metro commuters was launched yesterday.

Dubai Metro free newsletterThe weekly title, Read, has an initial print run of 80,000 copies, and is distributed in stations on the network’s Red Line.

Billed as an “infotainment” publication, its first edition features an article on visits to Dubai by celebrities such as Martha Stewart and Diego Maradona.

Other features include information about venues close to Metro stations, cinema listings, and a guide to using the transport system.

The English-language title will be distributed every Sunday, said Arnold Pinto, the managing editor of Read.

“We’re currently distributing 80,000 copies,” he said. “It’s currently available in 27 stations on the Red Line of the Metro.”

Distribution on other modes of transport is also being considered. “It could potentially go out on buses and taxis,” Mr Pinto said.

Eight full-time editorial staff work at the newspaper, which is published by Continental Multimedia. The publisher is part of Kassab Media, the outdoor advertising company that has the contract to sell advertising space on Dubai’s rail system.

The publisher has acquired a licence for the title from the UAE’s National Media Council, and Mr Pinto said increased frequency of publication was “a possibility”.

“We have licences for both weekly and daily newspapers,” he said.

The title is supported by advertising, and will compete with the existing free newspaper 7DAYS. “We’ve had a very good response from advertisers,” Mr Pinto said.

Free newspapers, often distributed in and around transport hubs, are common in other markets.

Yet many have ceased publication since the onset of the economic downturn, including News International’s thelondonpaper and London Lite, published by Associated Newspapers.

However, the free publishing model remains popular, with some established newspapers, such as London’s Evening Standard, having opted to scrap their cover prices in the hope of increased advertising revenues.