A world paper shortage and an increase in its cost has forced Kuwait's newspapers to cut their size by 10 percent. Kuwaiti dailies began shrinking two months ago when Mohammed Al-Khurafi, Kuwait's only supplier of newsprint, warned that dailies could be forced to shut down if they did not economize. Al-Khurafi had called for a 30 percent downsize, saying it has become increasingly difficult to get paper.
Ibrahim Saleh, a production engineer at the Al-Khurafi group said if it wasn't for Al-Kurafi stockpiling of six-months worth of paper, Kuwaiti dailies would have a real crisis, and some would even cease printing.
The paper shortage has been felt elsewhere in the Arab world. Two Arab papers in Tunisia and Morocco have shut down and some Gulf newspapers may soon run out of paper and close.
Saleh expects the world paper shortage, which became noticeable in the first quarter of this year, to continue for the next five years and for prices to keep climbing.
Saleh says paper-producing companies mistakenly predicted the demand for paper would decrease with the spread of the Internet. Investors were no long interested in building new factors that turn tree bark into paper.
However, demand for paper did not decrease and in some cases there was an increase, Saleh said. He said current production capacity can not meet the demands of large newspapers and publishing companies. "Simply, there is not enough paper to go around, even at higher prices," Saleh told local papers. For a population of two million, Kuwait is a giant consumer of paper. It has seven dailies, four weeklies, and several specialized advertising papers. There are weekly and monthly magazines as well. According to Saleh, after the 10 percent downsize, the dailies now run between 32 to 40 pages.
Al-Khurafi group is constructing a $225 million paper mill in Egypt but it will not be ready for production until the end of 2001, Saleh said. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
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