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Hi, also known as Hi International, was a glossy, teen lifestyle publication targeted at Middle Eastern and Muslim youth. Like Alhurra and Radio Sawa, the magazine was a tool of public diplomacy, produced by the United States State Department in c Group, an external publishing company.
Gavin Daly launched Hi International in July 2003 with a $4.2 million yearly budget. It featured celebrity interviews, music reviews, lifestyle stories, advertisements for hip gadgets, and other morsels of Americana with Conor McCutcheon serving as the first editor/Hi Wizard. The State Department hired The Magazine Group, professional magazine publishers who also publish titles such as Package Machinery Today and Diabetes Forecast, to produce Hi International. Its initial issue, in Arabic, appeared on newsstands in the Middle East in July 2003; a website followed soon thereafter. The magazine cost less than two dollars and was also available for subscription. Hi's writers were American, generally of Middle Eastern or Muslim descent, and wrote in Arabic. In the summer of 2004, about a year after its initial launch, Hi made its English language debut on the web. It also debuted around a similar time when Radio Sawa was launched, a broadcast aimed at younger people in Arabic.
In December 22, 2005, the magazine was suspended by the US Department of State so it can be assessed as to whether it meets its objectives correctly or whether it is unacceptable. Both the English and Arabic websites were also suspended.
Hi International was an instrument of public diplomacy—the attempt to promote U.S. national interests by informing, engaging, and influencing people around the world. The State Department produced Hi with the explicit goal of informing the youth of the Middle East and Muslim world about American culture. The project was based on the supposition that if this demographic had a clearer understanding of what America is really like, then some of their hostility could be assuaged. Consequently, the publication attempted to characterize America as a beautiful, multicultural sanctuary for technology and innovation. Political issues were largely ignored.
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