The front page of Muscat Daily on February 28, 2011 announcing the riots in Sohar and the police action afterwards in which two people were killed and 35 injured
|Owner(s)||Apex Press and Publishing|
|Founded||October 10, 2009|
|Headquarters||CBD, Ruwi, Muscat|
|Circulation||24,804 daily (Sat-Wed)|
Muscat Daily is an Omani newspaper that was founded in 2009. The print edition of Muscat Daily is the largest-selling English daily in Oman with nearly 33,000 copies sold every day on Omani weekdays (Saturday to Wednesday). The paper does not have a weekend edition currently. Muscat Daily is owned by Apex Press and Publishing, a leading Omani publishing company which publishes several other titles including the hugely popular TheWeek, Business Today, Oman Today, Usrat Al Youm, Al Isbou'a, Business Directory and Tribute. Apex also does occasional projects like the Map of Oman, Apex Map of Muscat, The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque coffee table book etc. Apex Press and Publishing was founded in 1980 by Omani businessman Saleh Zakwani, who is also the current chairman of the company.
The newspaper celebrated its first anniversary on October 13. Muscat Daily is accessible online at muscatdaily.com.
Editorial content is generated by an in-house team of reporters and writers in the case of Oman news. International news is sourced from a variety of newswires including The New York Times Syndicate and News Service, BBC, dpa, TMS Features, IANS, Asian News Network. The paper runs crosswords provided by The Guardian.
The newspaper is organized in two sections. Section 1 is the main section with 20 pages containing Oman (National) news, Regional and World news, Op-Ed and Sports. Section 2 has Business, Crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, quiz questions and a Features section. On Wednesdays, TheWeek newspaper is delivered home to Muscat Daily subscribers as weekend reading.
Design and style
The newspaper which features a bright tulip orange and black theme was designed by its creative director, Benoite Lopes, in a seven column format. The design has received favorable reviews at design workshops run by WAN-IFRA the biggest association of publishers in the world. Muscat Daily is still not a full colour paper as it is printed at the Omani government-owned Oman Observer press.
In February 2010, parent company Apex Press and Publishing announced that they had signed an agreement to purchase a Goss Community SSC Press with a rated speed of 35,000 copies per hour from the American printing press manufacturer.
Apex had previously printed its titles with other printers since it had never invested in its own press. Mohana Prabhakar, chief executive and managing editor of Apex Press and Publishing, was quoted as saying that using contract printers had become an increasing problem as the company expanded its portfolio of titles. This was the main reason that Apex finally decided to invest in its own printing press despite the extra printing capacity available in the country with other printers.
Despite the relative young age of the newspaper, the circulation quickly picked up and the paper went on to become the largest selling English-language daily in the Sultanate of Oman by mid-2010. The main reason quoted by industry analysts for this was the low annual subscription fees of the newspaper in a market which traditionally had fewer than 1,000 residential subscribers for English dailies before the entry of Muscat Daily. An annual subscription to Muscat Daily cost OMR 13.500 (about $35) compared to the OMR 72 ($186) of competitors likes Times of Oman, Oman Tribune and Oman Daily Observer.
Political persuasion overall
Muscat Daily has been described by analysts as having a centrist liberal bias on most issues. Overall, the stated mission of the paper and its management is to report and not sensationalise or editorialise matters.
Muscat Daily has been criticized as being a late entry into the newspaper arena in Oman at a time when newspaper subscriptions are falling in the West. In a scathing critique, Eliott Beer posted on AdNation Middle East's website, "Apparently no-one's told the guys in Oman about the demise of traditional print media (it's dead, you know) - some publisher's only gone and started up another newspaper."
However, parent company Apex Press and Publishing says that newspaper circulations are increasing in emerging markets and since the penetration of broadband in Oman is still only about 12%  of the total population, it does not see any threat to its print business. Muscat Daily was launched as a direct competitor to other English language dailies in Oman including the Times of Oman, Oman Tribune and the government-run Oman Daily Observer.
Muscat Daily in international media
The role that Muscat Daily has played in pushing the boundaries of media freedom and censorship in 'the sleepy sultanate' has been recognized by world media, particularly those that work in markets where media freedom is guaranteed. An article in Christian Science Monitor on the protests and media freedom in Oman said:
"The fact that Oman's first civil unrest in 40 years left at least one person dead in a northern port city here was big news. But it was even bigger news that the English-language Muscat Daily declared "Black Sunday in Sohar" on its front page and carried a half-page photograph showing smoke filling the sky above a roundabout seized by protesters."
Among other international media, Spanish newspaper El País has quoted Muscat Daily in its coverage of the 2011 Omani protests and the related action by the government and other actors in the 2011 protests. Talking about the reforms instituted by Sultan Qaboos, in the wake of the protests it said: "Según datos recabados por el Muscat Daily, la medida beneficia a 130.000 ciudadanos, el 73% de todos los que trabajan ese sector." (Translation: According to data compiled by Muscat Daily, the new measures will benefit about 130,000 people or about 73% of those working in the private sector.)
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- "Apex Press and Publishing website". Retrieved 2011-03-17.
- "Apex unveils Tribute 2008". AME Info. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- "Apex to purchase Goss Community Press". Printing Talk. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- Beer, Eliott. "AdNation criticises Muscat Daily launch". AdNation. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- "Broadband statistics in Oman". Internet world stats. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
- "Middle East Newspaper Guide for download" (PDF). Middle East Guide. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- "Muscat Daily coverage of Sohar protests pushes the lines of media censorship in Oman". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "Christian Science Monitor article on Oman media in Gulf News". Gulf News. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "Media freedom article by Jackie Spinner on Yahoo News Canada". Yahoo News. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
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- "The sultanate suddenly stirs". The Economist. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
- "Protests and reforms in Oman". El País. Retrieved May 17, 2011.