Arab News: A turning point for Saudi media
After the start of the Saudi economic boom in 1973, there was an influx of expatriates into the Kingdom.
They came from many different countries and spoke different languages.
But the common language of communication between Saudi nationals and other nationalities was English.
At the same time, those expatriates were in great need of following local and international developments and most important, the news about their home countries.
In 1975, there were no quick means of communication like the Internet.
In 1975, Saudi Arabia had many papers that covered news, but, those were in Arabic.
So, there was a great need for an English-language newspaper in the Kingdom.
In addition, with massive development projects under way, people outside the country were very keen to read news articles about the Kingdom and the Saudi point of view.
So, in 1975, Mr. Hisham Ali Hafiz and Mohammed Ali Hafiz came up with the brilliant idea of launching the first English newspaper in Saudi Arabia. And their dream became a reality.
Today, Arab News is one of the 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).
The paper was an instant hit from day one. It was a window on the world.
While professionals were involved in the making of its track record, the newspaper provided a training environment for many Saudi nationals and others in the field of journalism.
Arab News was one of the best public relations platforms for Saudi Arabia during the biggest economic boom and it highlighted the nation’s rapid progress to the outside world.
The newspaper gave extensive and in-depth coverage to important events that happened in the Kingdom and the region.
An example is the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Extensive coverage was given by Arab News of both Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations. After the terrorist attack of 9/11, Arab News was rated as one of the most authentic sources of balanced news about the region and Saudi Arabia.
At the end of the day, Arab News was a vital news source for millions of expatriates who work, live and travel to the Kingdom.
It is being used as a source of information for many foreign missions and companies.
My association with this paper has been since its launch in 1975. I used to read Arab News while on vacations in the Kingdom between 1975 and 1983 when I was attending schools in the US.
From that day I wanted to be part of it, but, I only decided to write for this newspaper after my retirement from the Saudi Royal Navy a few years ago.
At that time, the editor in chief was Khaled Almaeena who is considered as one of the leading media managers not only in the Kingdom, but the whole Arab world.
After he left, the Arab News had Abdulwahab Al-Fayez as its editor in chief. Abdulawahab Al-Faiz gave the paper a different approach.
And later on Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi became the editor-in-chief, an experienced journalist.
After I started writing for it, I was overwhelmed with joy of the wide scope of readers the newspaper has. I have seen many articles from Arab News being republished and translated in many countries.
In other words, the Arab News became the window for Saudi Arabia.
And in a few months after its foundation, Arab News became the main source of reference to many think tanks because of its extensive coverage and analysis of events.
The most positive impact that Arab News has on Saudi society and millions of expatriates is that it promotes open dialogue between citizens and foreigners.
The newspaper became the voice of millions of expatriates. It provided a platform for them to express their appreciation and grievances.
It helped in the solution of many cases of expatriates and the issues were initiated by writers and readers of Arab News.
Some of the expatriates were even given the chance of reading part of the newspaper, written in their native language.
And most importantly, Arab News helped in healing the homesickness of many expatriate workers when they arrive in the Kingdom for the first time.
Arab News was and still is a very successful newspaper even in the era of Twitter and Facebook.
The amount of responses received reflects its popularity among readers from all over the world.
Now, 39 years have passed since Arab News was founded and it is still adapting to the many changes that are affecting the media industry.
Just a few years ago, it launched state-of-the-art new facilities at its main headquarters in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.
We wish Arab News, the first English Saudi newspaper, and its staff many successes ahead.
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