How would you characterize the year for The Peninsula beyond the pandemic?
COVID-19 surprised everyone and greatly impacted all aspects of economic and social life. The media was no exception, but had its share of the repercussions that are still ongoing. The suspension of economic activities has negatively affected the media in general and print media in particular. However, this did not prevent us from continuing with our media message and our goals to provide readers with timely news and information. The Peninsula continued to be issued in PDF version under work-from-home arrangement. Communication with readers continued through the newspaper's website, which enhanced its role with the support of social media. These platforms played an effective pioneering role in providing information to the readers instantly. Thus, the newspaper maintained its position and still has the highest rate of reading and follow-up on its electronic platforms. We attracted a number of competent journalists during the crisis to preserve its achievements as the best English-language newspaper in the country and to strengthen our position in the media scene.
How did your young and flexible structure help you to adapt to new digital technologies applicable to information services?
When The Peninsula newspaper was founded in 1996, we were aware of the urban renaissance, economic development and expansion of investments that the country was witnessing, and attracting large numbers of foreigners to work. This necessitated response to their needs as people who became part of the fabric of Qatari society. Through continuous renewal, improvement of content, innovation, and creating partnerships with various entities, the newspaper was able to become one of the main English newspapers in the country. The Peninsula is considered today the first and best newspaper in Qatar in terms of wide reach, readership, and ability to respond to the needs of the country's financial and business sector. Indeed, its fame has exceeded outside the country, receiving invitations to hold interviews with heads of states and important personalities in a number of countries. As for the challenge of cybersecurity, it is a global issue that was not something specific to Qatar, and the experience of cyber attack on the Qatar News Agency website in May 2017 was the first of its kind, and I hope it will be the last.
Media groups generally partner with a variety of government bodies, private companies and cultural, sports and other events to increase the reach of its information services. What is your growth strategy in this regard?
The Peninsula newspaper establishes partnerships with various governmental and non-governmental agencies in the country through which we provide integrated coverage of the activities of these sectors and meet their media needs. The newspaper enjoys high flexibility in its plans that enable it to adapt and respond quickly to the developments in the country and the development projects that are implemented in it. That is why our vision is based first on the local level, but with a global vision, because we live in a world that has turned into something like a global village thanks to the development of communication systems.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup fast approaching, what are your plans for the event?
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is one of the most important events. I hope everyone in the region will celebrate it and that the current fabricated blockade and disagreements will end. I expect it to be a distinguished and memorable event and to be perpetuated by the history of football games. Our plans are to strengthen the role of the newspaper before, during and after this World Cup, and we will strengthen the sports section and support it to play a distinguished role in media coverage of various sports activities. The role of social media will also remain important and will be strengthened, as the platforms have the speed to transmit the news in audio, image and readable text.