Cutting-edge hybrid press goes live in Middle East

KBA Continent at UPP in Abu Dhabi

Würzburg, (PresseBox) - Abu Dhabi-based United Printing & Publishing (UPP), one of the largest companies in the United Arab Emirates and one of the biggest newspaper and commercial print operations in the Persian Gulf, flicked the switch in mid-May on a multi-unit Continent hybrid press line supplied by KBA.

Following Continent installations at Dar Al-Yaum in Dammam (Saudi-Arabia) in 2004 and at Dar Al Sharq in Doha (Qatar) in 2007, UPP is the third newspaper publishing house in the Middle East to install a KBA hybrid press for coldset and heatset production.

Advancing newspaper technology in the Persian Gulf

But it is not just the three Continent press lines which underscore the willingness of media houses in this high-growth region to invest in cutting-edge press technology.

Next year the first waterless KBA Cortina outside Europe, in a configuration with multiple heatset dryers, will come on stream at prominent daily title the Gulf News, owned by Dubai media group Al Nisr Publishing LLC. When it comes to exploiting the enormous potential of hybrid technology to print newspapers approaching the quality of magazines, some players in the Persian Gulf are ahead of their counterparts in both Europe and the USA.

The new Continent at United Printing & Publishing is widely considered to be one of the biggest and technologically most advanced newspaper press lines in the entire region. In addition to an awesome production capacity it delivers an enhanced quality and supports a diverse range of products.

New printing plant for newspapers and commercials

The Continent press line was installed in gleaming new premises outside Abu Dhabi on the highway to Dubai, not far from the international airport. UPP invested some 100 million dirhams ($27m) in this imposing production plant, which covers an area of 20,000m² (215,000ft²).

KBA presses throughout

UPP is planning to make the new plant its newspaper and commercial printing centre. So in coming months all the presses at its existing facility in Abu Dhabi city centre will be relocated to the new plant in preparation for the official inauguration scheduled for the first quarter of next year. Along with the new Continent the press hall will then accommodate a 1998-vintage Compacta 213 with dryer, a KBA Compacta 215 commercial web press installed in 2007, a Rapida 104 five-colour litho press with coater, a Performa 74 with a similar configuration and a new KBA Rapida 105 six-colour UV coater press, the contract for which was signed just recently.

KBA web and sheetfed presses thus print UPP'S entire spectrum of newspapers and commercials, underscoring over ten years of fruitful collaboration among UPP, KBA and KBA's dedicated regional sales and service agency, Giffin Graphics.

Rapid growth

United Printing & Publishing is a recent phenomenon, having been established in 2006. It is the print arm of Emirates Media Inc., one of the Gulf's leading media houses and, in the early 1970s, part of Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC). UPP's corporate policy is founded on advanced technology supporting rigorous standards of service and quality, and to this end the company has gained ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 accreditation. A dynamic, fast-growing enterprise, UPP has already become a familiar name throughout the region and is now busily expanding beyond the United Arab Emirates into the global marketplace.

Its product spectrum could scarcely be more diverse, ranging as it does from newspapers, magazines, brochures and newsletters to catalogues, point of sales products, books, directories and customised marketing products.

Fruitful alliance with KBA and Giffin Graphics

UPP's CEO Ali Saif Al Neaimi says: "We continued our successful alliance with KBA and Giffin Graphics because we were delighted with the performance of our KBA Compacta 213, and with the excellent service and competent support provided at the planning stage for the new press. We couldn't be happier with the way the project has gone. KBA not only handled it to our total satisfaction, they actually exceeded all our expectations. Despite delays in the completion of the new printing plant, all the deadlines were met for commissioning the Continent. Press performance is superb and handling is exceptionally easy."

Sights set on lucrative contract work

At present UPP uses the new semi-commercial press to print two daily paid-for titles, The National and Al Ittihad, with a circulation of 110,000 copies apiece, plus a free distribution title, 7 Days. "We are planning to make the most of our expanded capacity by securing more lucrative contract work," says Mr Al Neaimi. "We have already successfully completed negotiations to print a global newspaper title, and other promising contracts are in the offing."

A changing market scenario

He continues: "We have not escaped the current recession, and as a result have reduced production shifts and postponed a scheduled extension of the KBA Continent. At present we have a total newspaper production capacity of eighteen printing towers. Since this is perfectly adequate for the time being, in view of the changing market scenario we have abandoned our original idea of linking up the Continent and the Compacta 213.

"The new Continent allows us to produce a maximum of 64 broadsheet pages, of which 40 can be full colour. With a cut-off of 578mm we can print up to 50,000 copies per hour. The web width can be varied between 635 and 1,000mm. Following its relocation to the new printing plant the Compacta 213 will be used as an independent semi-commercial press. Once the recession is over, growth will return to its former steep trajectory."

Newspapers currently account for approximately 65 per cent of output, with magazines and commercials accounting for the remaining 35 per cent. "The balance will steadily shift towards commercials. With our KBA presses we are well equipped for this type of work and are confident that we shall soon be able to move into more lucrative niche markets such as packaging printing," says Mr Al Neaimi.

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