Inside the September 2017 issue of Esquire Middle East
An introduction to the September 2017 issue of Esquire Middle East:
Let’s cut to the chase here. Eight years on from being granted the opportunity to launch Esquire in the Middle East, this is my 89th and final editor’s letter. I’m moving on to new challenges, so the privilege of stewarding this magazine toward the future will belong to someone else.
I was 34 when we started and wet behind the ears when it came to important aspects of the fashion business, such as front-row etiquette, statement accessories, and how to air-kiss Italian PRs (it didn’t take long to get up to speed). Yet I was old enough to have been a reader of the US edition for years, and knew that, since launching in the 1930s, its editors had constantly found new ways to articulate how men think. There’d been some wonderful contributors – Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mailer, Talese, Wolfe, Capote – it pioneered New Journalism, led public opinion on massive topics, and created era-defining covers that were so powerful they are now displayed in art galleries.
So I understood the responsibility that comes with this kind of gig. Which was basically: don’t mess it up. All that being said, the magical backstory counted for nothing if we didn’t connect with our region. Hence my first editor’s letter didn’t dwell on the past but instead attempted to define our would-be readers: “These are men who demand the finest things from the West and East; who do business with those to their left and to their right,” I wrote. “The question is not whether he wears a dish dash, business suit or kurtha, but, rather, how he carries himself.”
Highfalutin’ words perhaps, but those guys – you readers – were out there, and I like to think we’ve been on this journey together, during a fascinating, turbulent and crazy decade. The region has changed immensely since 2009. We still had the Middle East policies of a president called George Bush to grapple with. There was the Great Recession, unprecedented peaks and troughs in oil prices, environmental issues, the rise of smartphones and social media, terror; and of course the Arab Spring.
These events are not unlinked in how they impacted each other during this time. If I hope to be remembered for one thing as editor, it would be for how we covered those subjects, trying to join the dots, dig a little deeper and avoid stereotypes or lazy narratives.
I’m proud of our many features on countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran. And prouder still that we always made sure to also celebrate the diverse cultures that thrive in these places, from film and music, to art, fashion and literature.
But we are, of course, a magazine of style as well as substance and on this score I think we’ve done okay. I’ve definitely seen a shift in the way men dress here. While we can’t claim all the credit for that change, we’ve definitely been a part of a renaissance in how men present themselves to the world. (My own wardrobe, incidentally, is way better than it was in 2009, and it is a great source of consternation to my wife that I own many more pairs of shoes than she does.)
More than all this, the best thing about this job has been the opportunity to meet amazing, inspirational people, and make lifelong friends. I would like to thank everyone in Dubai, past and present, who has worked on Esquire. I also cannot thank my colleagues enough at Hearst in New York for their wisdom, warmth, friendship and guidance.
Most of all, thank you, dear readers, for your unending support. You are the ones who made this edition a success and allowed us to grow to where we are today. And so to the future. There are fantastic plans ahead for Esquire across all platforms. I’m excited to watch it unfold, even just as a loyal fan. As for me, I’ve had my time and it was fun. The ride of a lifetime, in fact.