A 20-year-old journalism student in Sharjah is set to launch this week the country's first English-language webzine aimed at students. Nur Amer, who is studying journalism at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), was motivated to start her online publication after coming across an Islamic-themed magazine run by a 14-year-old in the United States. Ms Amer, who acts as editor-in-chief, felt the UAE lacked publications that represented student interests, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
"I did some market research and what I found was mostly magazines that concentrate on Arabic middle-aged women, such as Sayidaty," she said. "There wasn't any magazine that was directed to our age group, especially from Dubai." iAm Magazine will allow university students to contribute their opinions, monitor happenings in the country and share concerns. "What we want is content that students are interested in reading," she said.
"Who is better to present that than the student themselves?" Ms Amer spent Dh2,000 from her own pocket to fund the magazine, which took two months to set up. She said students have responded positively to the project, which has attracted interest in the Gulf region through the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. One of the many interested people was Fadi Qanadilo, a recent AUS graduate. He is trying to draw male readers to the magazine by writing about automobiles.
"Cars are definitely something I hear guys speak about on a day-to-day basis," said Mr Qanadilo, a 23-year-old Jordanian. The magazine "gave me a chance to write about something that I love." Ms Amer is looking for sponsors and advertisers to help fund a print issue of the magazine. Printing and licensing for such a publication could cost up to Dh70,000 a month. Meanwhile, students are contributing to the online edition by designing the layout to duplicate the experience at a professionally produced magazine.
Reema Hussein, an electrical engineering student at the Canadian University of Dubai, is the design editor of the magazine. "I hope to be able to display everyone's work in a professional yet creative way," she said. "What made me want to contribute to this magazine even more is the fact that it's going to be written fully by college students, which in my opinion, will give it a very genuine voice."
Ms Amer hopes the publication will go live on Monday at www.iam-magazine.net @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org