Reuters doubles original Arabic news coverage

News service begins a recruitment drive for regional reporters.

Reuters has doubled the amount of original Arabic-language news it produces and plans to recruit "dozens" of reporters to bolster its coverage further, especially in business news. The news provider, part of Thomson Reuters, claims it has increased general Arabic content, which includes articles translated from other languages, by 12 per cent under an expansion programme that began last year.

"Reuters has doubled its Arabic-language economic and business news output since the expansion began," said a spokeswoman for the company. "Original Arabic-language reporting has also doubled, and numbers will rise further as additional correspondents come on board over the next few months." Caroline Drees, who will next month take up the position of managing editor for Reuters in the Middle East and Africa, says the news service is on a recruitment drive for Arab journalists.

"The investment in the Middle East growth plan over the last 1.5 years has been in the millions of dollars," Ms Drees said. "We are increasing the number of original Arabic-language reporters and expanding business news about the Middle East." Ms Drees said this reflected "an increasing appetite for local-language news". "The 300 million people in the region is a substantial number and people don't realise how much they like reading news in their own tongue until it's made available to them," she said.

"We definitely think there is continued demand in the region, especially in the Arabic language. We have had an Arabic-language news service for decades. "There are lots of factors aside from the financial downturn that make this region very attractive, from the shifting resources in terms of investment and people in this region, to the growing professionalism." Ms Drees added Reuters was also considering the launch of Arabic content on its business commentary service BreakingViews.

Thomson Reuters has 540 staff, including "several hundred" editorial staff, in the Middle East and Africa region. Competitors have played down the threat posed by the increase in Reuters's Arabic content. "We've had an Arab news service for years," said Andrew Critchlow, the Middle East managing editor at Zawya Dow Jones. "Eighty per cent of our content is translated into Arabic. Reuters is playing catch-up with what Dow Jones is doing."

Another rival, Bloomberg, does not produce any Arabic content, apart from a monthly magazine produced under a joint venture with a Beirut-based publisher. Riad Hamade, the managing editor at Bloomberg in the Middle East and Africa, said there were "no plans at the moment" to launch Arabic services, but the company was pursuing expansion plans in the region.