KT's lifestyle mag that came of age.
Lifestyle is the biggest currency in the UAE. especially Dubai. Ask anyone - a newbie expat or a sworn-for-life Dubai-ite - and they'll tell you it's the prime reason why people move here. To live, and love, 'the Dubai life'. It's an end unto itself. All segments cater to this quotient: real estate, banking, fashion, entertainment, F&B, hospitality, art, design. you name it, and they're all selling a dream that's meant to be realised in the pursuit of happiness in this city.
In a way, mainstream media subscribes to this value system that has created such a buzz about Dubai - and its good life. By extension, lifestyle - and the varied, diverse needs it caters to - features prominently in any mainline newspaper here; its omnipresent on every almost every page.
And there's also a niche it's managed to create - with a different packaging, a different format and a different style: the lifestyle magazine, with its abiding shelf life, its broader base, and its long form.
Every country, every market has lifestyle sector magazines, but they're much more relevant here - because of the unique nature of wants, needs, and desires that residents subscribe to. At Khaleej Times, WKND magazine, which has been published every Friday for more than three decades now, takes forward the lifestyle quotient and showcases the best (and most happening) trends that have been imploding in a space that never ceases to rein in its march towards the best life can be.
WKND has been through its rigours of evolution. It was a broadsheet, then converted into a magazine, had numerous name changes, went from black-and-white to part-colour, then full colour. from newspaper print-quality to magazine finish. from matte to glossy. Even as the city grew and changed, and went from strength to strength, the magazine changed - yet it didn't. Every Friday brought to the table unmatched lifestyle offerings, keeping in mind evolving mindsets of new generations. From why modest fashion is ruling the runway to why organic food is cooking up a storm to what impact the selfies craze can trigger off in our social lives to why art works as an investment, our cover stories have captured the essence of change without compromising on integrity, research and journalistic ethics.
Over the years, there have been more magazines - all logging in to the lifestyle quotient - that have been brought out by Khaleej Times: Inspired Living, Wedding Wows, the biannual Cookbooks. they've all had a rub-off effect from WKND while establishing their own identities.
Last year, WKND got a taller, snazzier, more contemporary look. For the first time, we broke down the magazine into smaller packages since "busy" has become the buzzword; global and local surveys and studies revealed readers are strapped for time, so they prefer to look at features that encapsulate rather than strain their staying power. But, again, this substantial change did not come at the cost of deviating from the original credo.
Ironically, there's a lot of baggage that comes with lifestyle - mainly the fact that an adherence (or aspiration) to an elevated lifestyle automatically makes you "superficial".
A few times, I've heard outsiders to this city, and this country, allege that maybe Dubai, with its thrust towards all things bigger and better, is losing sight of its soul. It's an allegation that has been countered at every stage - by the government, by the people and, of course, the media.
It's in this particular domain that WKND has always stood out. Amid the urbane buzz and the fashion fiestas, our human-interest stories - extraordinary stories of ordinary people - have stood out, validating that, ultimately, it's the people in this country, and city, who matter most of all.
As the current editor of WKND, I have to say it's been loads of fun working on the mag. Every week brings with it the challenges of thinking up something new, to keep track of change, to be in sync with the 40-year-old mother ship Khaleej Times.
Ideation has been the backbone of the closely-knit, small WKND team. Whenever the goings gets tough (deadlines are looming up and there's still a long way to go!), just the thought of holding the new issue of WKND in our hands always gets us back on track.
In a global climate where there are reports of magazines - even lifestyle ones - hitting stumbling blocks trickling in almost every day, where do I see WKND down the years?
Like Dubai and its vision, let me just say: the best is yet to be.
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