Rewriting the future: Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas on Arab News’ new leaf

Updated 20 April 2018
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Rewriting the future: Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas on Arab News’ new leaf

  • As a journalist, I don’t think there is any place more interesting in the region than Saudi Arabia: Arab News Editor in Chief
  • Arab News will move away from being seen merely as a 'newspaper' to a whole array of new offerings

On April 1, a tweet went out from the Arab News account: “Arab News — as you know it — will no longer exist! #AprilFoolsDay #WhatChanged.” 

The message was a teaser building up to the  relaunch of the English-language daily following a comprehensive overhaul, described by Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas as “The biggest shake-up the paper has had throughout its 43-year history.”

On April 4, the relaunch issue hit the newsstands, with changes also reflected across the digital editions. While the new look and feel of the paper represent a bold departure, many of the shifts have materialized over the past year. In a wide-ranging interview with Communicate magazine, Abbas described the evolution of Arab News since he took the reins in September 2016. 

“We went back to our roots and took the paper back from being a local news outlet to its original positioning as the English voice of the region,” he told the magazine. 

To achieve this, Arab News, which is owned by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), has opened bureaus in London, Dubai and Pakistan and has hired some of the best industry talent, made significant changes to its workflow structure and rewritten its editorial policy.

The changes are all part of a future plan entitled Arab News 2020 to coincide with the paper’s 45th anniversary that year. Key to this is a “digital-first” philosophy which is incorporating more video and social media to serve the title’s expanding demographic in the online sphere, though with print revenues at 90 percent, it won’t be killing its print editions any time soon.  

Instead, the focus is on expansion. “We are moving away from being recognized as merely a “newspaper” to a whole array of digital offerings, events and tailored products,” Abbas said. Examples include the Arab News partnership with YouGov, producing material that “quickly became a reference for the region,” on major events, including polls on lifting the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia and a 2017 survey on British attitudes toward the Arab world — cited in the UK Parliament. 

The paper’s metamorphosis coincides neatly with the transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia as the country embraces an ambitious reform program as part of the Vision 2030 which, among other things, is redefining the local media industry. “As a journalist, I don’t think there is any place more interesting in the region than Saudi Arabia,” Abbas said. “We are very lucky to be at the heart of (the) change.” 


Asian Cup Media Committee hits out at BeIN Sports presenter over political comments

Updated 17 January 2019
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Asian Cup Media Committee hits out at BeIN Sports presenter over political comments

  • BeIN Sports presenter denounced for talking about politics during the Iran-Iraq clash.
  • Asian Cup Media Committee call on AFC to take appropriate action to separate politics from sports.

LONDON: The Asian Cup Media Committee has denounced the behavior of a beIN Sports presenter during Wednesday’s Group D clash between Iraq and Iran for bringing politics into sports while also commenting on Thursday’s Saudi Arabia-Qatar encounter.
Mentioning politics while broadcasting is against FIFA’s laws and regulations as well as the governing principles of the International Olympic Committee that prohibit misuse of sports for political purposes, the committee said.
The Committee disputed the presenter’s claims on the alleged absence of Qatari fans during the championship, citing the Qatari media delegation’s statements to AFP that the Qatari official delegation did not encounter any problems or obstacles during the championship.
In addition to that the committee also cited the Asian Football Confederation’s statements that showed up the Qatari channel presenter’s allegations of on the absence of Qatari fans as false.
The Committee affirmed that all efforts were being made during the championship to ensure the smooth attendance of fans supporting their national teams at the tournament taking place across the UAE.
The Committee called on the AFC to take appropriate action to separate politics from sports, affirming that it reserved the right to take all necessary legal action in collaboration with authorities concerned against the channel and its presenter.