How Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper, was born

How Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper, was born
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Updated 20 April 2020

How Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper, was born

How Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper, was born
  • 45 years ago, Hisham and Mohammed Hafiz launched it in a Jeddah garage
  • The first issue was a 16-page tabloid published on April 20, 1975

JEDDAH: Brothers Hisham and Mohammed Hafiz had a dream: To publish a daily, English-language newspaper in Saudi Arabia. In 1972, they began to seriously discuss how they might turn that dream into a reality.

Almost everyone they spoke to was skeptical about the idea. Undeterred, in 1974, they pushed ahead with their plans and began to buy the equipment they needed. They also hired Ahmad Mahmoud to be the newspaper’s first editor-in-chief, and sent him to Pakistan to hire a team of journalists.

The first issue of Arab News, a 16-page tabloid, was published on April 20, 1975, from a small garage in Jeddah. Thanks to its instant popularity, and the quantity of advertising it generated, by the end of August it had blossomed into a broadsheet.

The late Farouk Luqman, who died in July 2019 at the age of 84, was there at the beginning and became editor-in-chief 18 years later. In his book “Globalization of the Arabic Press,” he told the story of the Hafiz brothers and their incredible journey, which began with the launch of Arab News and grew into the biggest publishing house in the Middle East. He revealed that in the early days the newspaper had only six employees, including the editor-in-chief.

“We were doing everything, from writing stories to translating news and laying out pages,” said Luqman, who was managing editor at the time of the launch. The entire operation was based in the garage — from writing, editing and layout to advertising and administration.

“We worked until dawn preparing the first issue and the publishers stayed with us all the time until we finished and printed,” Luqman said. “They were true journalists and often pointed out mistakes, even spelling errors.”

Newcomer Arab News was in direct competition with the renowned International Herald Tribune, which was published in Paris, and the Lebanese Daily Star, both of which went on sale in Saudi Arabia the day after initial publication.

According to Luqman, Arab News proved popular not only with Europeans and Americans but also Asians and Africans.

During an interview in 2005, Mahmoud, the first editor-in-chief, recalled the offer of the top job caught him off guard.




 The Hafiz brothers went on to publish over a dozen newspapers and magazines, but Arab News retained a special place in their hearts. (AN) 

“One fine morning in 1974, I got a call from Mohammed Ali Hafiz asking me to meet him and his brother,” he said. “At that time I was with Al-Madinah Arabic newspaper. They told me about their project and, in the same breath, offered me the post of editor-in-chief. That took me completely by surprise.”

Mahmoud added that he did not have much time to ponder the offer as the Hafiz brothers told him the first issue would roll off the presses within six months.

“I did accept the offer, but I made it clear that I had no experience in English journalism,” he said. The response of the Hafiz brothers was: “When one is a journalist, one will always be a journalist.”

Like all new arrivals, Arab News had its share of teething problems. Following some trial dummy runs, Mahmoud — assisted by Luqman, who had experience of English-language journalism — encountered a series of niggling problems as they tried to put this new and novel venture to bed every night.

“There were challenges and trials, but with youthful determination and zest we did our best and overcame them,” Mahmoud said. “Arab News came out in difficult circumstances. As it was the first of its kind, we had to face up to the fact of limited news sources, a dearth of photographs, inadequate manpower and poor printing quality. Despite all this, surprisingly, the paper was well received.”

Despite the large number of additional successful publications launched by the newspaper’s publishers in the past 45 years, most notably Asharq Al-Awsat, Arab News retains a special place in their hearts.

In a letter to readers, the Hafiz brothers wrote: “The solid base of Arab News, financially and its journalistic success, paved the way for the birth of other successful papers and magazines, of which the majority are still being read today.”

As for the distinctive green-tinted paper on which Arab News is printed, that tradition began with its Arabic sister paper, Asharq Al-Awsat. In 1978, when the Hafiz brothers launched the pan-Arab newspaper, which is published and printed in London and other European cities, they wanted to make it easy for readers to find their paper on newsstands.

Noting that almost all of the hundreds of newspapers available in a variety languages are published on white paper, they decided to print theirs on green stock so that it would stand out. Later, Arab News began to follow its sister paper’s example, using green paper for its front page.

 


Hamas attacks Al Arabiya TV for exposing prisoner mistreatment

Al-Shahateet, originally from Dura, southwest of Hebron, was released with serious psychological injuries. (Screenshot)
Al-Shahateet, originally from Dura, southwest of Hebron, was released with serious psychological injuries. (Screenshot)
Updated 10 April 2021

Hamas attacks Al Arabiya TV for exposing prisoner mistreatment

Al-Shahateet, originally from Dura, southwest of Hebron, was released with serious psychological injuries. (Screenshot)
  • Prisoners loyal to Hamas were accused of physically beating Al-Shahateet due to an organizational dispute with the leader of Hamas

LONDON: Hamas issued a statement attacking Al Arabiya TV on Friday for exposing the mistreatment of Mansour Al-Shahateet, a prisoner who was released from an Israeli jail after a 17-year sentence.

Prisoners loyal to Hamas were accused of physically beating Al-Shahateet due to an organizational dispute with Yahya Al-Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, who was also serving a prison sentence.

Al-Shahateet, originally from Dura, southwest of Hebron, was released with serious psychological injuries after being kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time. Hamas prisoners who were confined with Al-Shahateet reportedly refused to stay in detention with him after he was severely beaten, and requested that he be transferred to solitary confinement.

Al-Shahateet’s health was neglected and his mental state deteriorated rapidly. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested that the Ministry of Health provide him with the necessary medical treatment.


Saudi Research and Marketing Group shareholders to vote on group name change on 29 April: Argaam

Shareholders will also vote to elect members of the board of directors for the next three-year term, starting May 21, 2021. (Supplied)
Shareholders will also vote to elect members of the board of directors for the next three-year term, starting May 21, 2021. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi Research and Marketing Group shareholders to vote on group name change on 29 April: Argaam

Shareholders will also vote to elect members of the board of directors for the next three-year term, starting May 21, 2021. (Supplied)
  • Shareholders will also vote to elect members of the board of directors for the next three-year term, starting May 21, 2021
  • The audit committee members include Turki Omar Bugshan, Majid Abdulrhman Alissa and Hamad Saud Alomar

RIYADH: Saudi Research and Marketing Group’s (SRMG) shareholders will vote to amend Article 2 of the company’s Articles of Association, to change the firm’s name to Saudi Research and Media Group, during the extraordinary general assembly meeting (EGM) to be held on April 29, 2021, Argaam English reported.

Shareholders will also vote to elect members of the board of directors for the next three-year term, starting May 21, 2021.

They will also vote on the formation of the audit committee, and the definition of its duties, work regulations and remuneration of its members for the upcoming term.

The audit committee members include Turki Omar Bugshan, Majid Abdulrhman Alissa and Hamad Saud Alomar.

Originally published on Argaam English.


Study: Facebook delivers biased job ads, skewed by gender

Study: Facebook delivers biased job ads, skewed by gender
Updated 09 April 2021

Study: Facebook delivers biased job ads, skewed by gender

Study: Facebook delivers biased job ads, skewed by gender
  • Facebook ads were skewed by gender beyond what can be legally justified by differences in job qualifications, says University of Southern California researchers

Facebook is showing different job ads to women and men in a way that might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws, according to a new study.
University of Southern California researchers who examined the ad-delivery algorithms of Facebook and LinkedIn found that Facebook’s were skewed by gender beyond what can be legally justified by differences in job qualifications.
Men were more likely to see Domino’s pizza delivery driver job ads on Facebook, while women were more likely to see Instacart shopper ads.
The trend also held in higher-paying engineering jobs at tech firms like Netflix and chipmaker Nvidia. A higher fraction of women saw the Netflix ads than the Nvidia ads, which parallels the gender breakdown in each company’s workforce.
No evidence was found of similar bias in the job ads delivered by LinkedIn.
Study author Aleksandra Korolova, an assistant professor of computer science at USC, said it might be that LinkedIn is doing a better job at deliberately tamping down bias, or it might be that Facebook is simply better at picking up real-world cues from its users about gender imbalances and perpetuating them.
“It’s not that the user is saying, ‘Oh, I’m interested in this.’ Facebook has decided on behalf of the user whether they are likely to engage,” she said. “And just because historically a certain group wasn’t interested in engaging in something, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have an opportunity to pursue it, especially in the job category.”
Facebook said in a statement Friday it has been taking meaningful steps to address issues of discrimination in ads.
“Our system takes into account many signals to try and serve people ads they will be most interested in, but we understand the concerns raised in the report,” it said.
Facebook promised to overhaul its ad targeting system in 2019 as part of a legal settlement.
The social network said then it would no longer allow housing, employment or credit ads that target people by age, gender or zip code. It also limited other targeting options so these ads don’t exclude people on the basis of race, ethnicity and other legally protected categories in the US, including national origin and sexual orientation.
Endlessly customizable ad targeting is Facebook’s bread and butter, so any limits placed on its process could hurt the company’s revenue. The ads users see can be tailored down to the most granular details — not just where people live and what websites they visited recently, but whether they’ve gotten engaged in the past six months or share characteristics with people who have recently bought new sneakers, even if they have never expressed interest in doing so themselves.
But even if advertisers can’t do the targeting themselves, the study shows what critics have stressed for years — that Facebook’s own algorithms can discriminate, even if there is no intent from the job advertisers themselves.
“We haven’t seen any public evidence that they are working on the issues related to their algorithms creating discrimination,” Korolova said.
Since it isn’t possible to show every user every advertisement that is targeted at them, Facebook’s software picks what it deems relevant. If more women show interest in certain jobs, the software learns it should show women more of these sorts of ads.
LinkedIn said the study’s findings align with its internal review of job ads targeting.
“However, we recognize that systemic change takes time, and we are at the beginning of a very long journey,” the company said in a statement.
US laws allow for ads to be targeted based on qualifications but not on protected categories such as race, gender and age. But anti-discrimination laws are largely complaint-driven, and no one can complain about being deprived of a job opportunity if they didn’t know it happened to them, said Sandra Wachter, a professor at Oxford University focused on technology law.
“The tools we have developed to prevent discrimination had a human perpetrator in mind,” said Wachter, who was not involved in the USC study. “An algorithm is discriminating very differently, grouping people differently and doing it in a very subtle way. Algorithms discriminate behind your back, basically.”
While Domino’s and Instacart have similar job requirements for their drivers, Domino’s delivery workforce is predominantly male, while Instacart’s is more than half female. The study, which looked at driver ads run in North Carolina compared to demographic data from voter records, found that Facebook’s algorithms appeared to be learning from those gender disparities and perpetuating them.
The same trend also occurred with sales jobs at retailer Reeds Jewelers, which more women saw, and the Leith Automotive dealership, which more men saw.
The researchers call for more rigorous auditing of such algorithms and to look at other factors such as racial bias. Korolova said external audits such as the USC study can only do so much without getting access to Facebook’s proprietary algorithms, but regulators could require some form of independent review to check for discrimination.
“We’ve seen that platforms are not so good at self-policing their algorithms for undesired societal consequences, especially when their business is at stake,” she said.


Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo to join Fox News

Fox has hired other members of the Trump orbit in recent months. (File/AFP)
Fox has hired other members of the Trump orbit in recent months. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 April 2021

Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo to join Fox News

Fox has hired other members of the Trump orbit in recent months. (File/AFP)
  • “I intend to give viewers a candid, no-nonsense look at geopolitics, international relations and the America First policies,” the former secretary of state said
  • Fox has hired other members of the Trump orbit in recent months

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo has been hired to appear on Fox News as a “contributor,” the conservative cable news channel said Thursday.
“I intend to give viewers a candid, no-nonsense look at geopolitics, international relations and the America First policies that helped chart the course for unprecedented American prosperity and security,” the former secretary of state and member of Congress said in a statement released by Fox.
“Mike Pompeo is one of America’s most recognized and respected voices on foreign policy and national security issues,” Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said. “I look forward to his contributions across our range of platforms to share his distinct perspective with our millions of viewers.”
Pompeo took up the post of secretary of state from his predecessor Rex Tillerson in April 2018 until the end of the Trump administration in January 2021. He was previously director of the CIA.
Recently, Pompeo has joined calls for the United States to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and has called the expert report on the origins of the Covid-19 virus a “sham” as part of a “disinformation campaign” from the World Health Organization and the Chinese Communist Party.
He was on the front lines of the Trump administration’s standoff with China.
Fox has hired other members of the Trump orbit in recent months, including his daughter-in-law and campaign adviser Lara Trump and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
The network has found itself embroiled in controversies over Trump’s untrue allegations of election rigging in 2020, with voting machine maker Dominion seeking more than $1 billion in a lawsuit over allegations Fox implicated the company in the false claims.


Top Turkish court reverses ban on news outlets

Top Turkish court reverses ban on news outlets
Updated 09 April 2021

Top Turkish court reverses ban on news outlets

Top Turkish court reverses ban on news outlets
  • Several news outlets that closed, mostly from the Turkish left-wing and pro-Kurdish political camps, are expected to apply to reopen and demand compensation for financial losses
  • In Turkey, about 90 percent of major media TV and radio outlets are owned by pro-government figures and conglomerates, while independent journalism mainly exists in the digital sphere

ANKARA: Turkey’s top court has reversed a state of emergency decree issued in 2016 that led to the closure of dozens of media outlets that allegedly “threatened domestic security.”

The ruling is expected to pave the way for the return of several independent news channels and radio stations in the country.

The Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that the decree violated “the principles of necessity and proportionality.”

It also ruled that the closure of media outlets without detailed inspections would constitute a violation of rights and freedoms.

Following the failed Turkish coup attempt in July 2016, several media organizations were forcibly closed after the decree was issued. It led to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) filing a petition to revoke the decree on grounds that it prevented people from exercising their right to information, which is a constitutional guarantee.

Several news outlets that closed, mostly from the Turkish left-wing and pro-Kurdish political camps, are expected to apply to reopen and demand compensation for financial losses, including seized assets.

Cases will be examined by the State of Emergency Inquiry Commission before a decision is made.

Hayatin Sesi TV was among the television channels that were closed following the decree. As part of the crackdown, the channel’s buildings were raided by police, its website was blocked, it was removed from the national satellite platform and its assets were seized.

The channel’s owners were also handed prison sentences for “spreading terror propaganda.”

The channel has challenged the closure order several times in the past, but an Ankara court overruled the appeals. Lawyers representing the channel are now preparing to apply to receive a broadcasting license.

“We always claimed that the closure was not based on legal grounds. Now we will use all our legal rights to get back our movable and immovable assets and to get back our broadcasting rights,” Devrim Avci, a lawyer representing Hayatin Sesi TV, told Arab News.

The channel, like others who will apply to the court, will also calculate the amount of advertisement revenue lost as a result of the closure.

In Turkey, about 90 percent of major media TV and radio outlets are owned by pro-government figures and conglomerates, while independent journalism mainly exists in the digital sphere.

Alpay Antmen, a CHP MP and lawyer by profession, said that authorities used the opportunity of the coup to target dissident media outlets and journalists under the pretext of fighting terror.

“But these were politically motivated moves to make the emergency state a permanent state. Authorities bypassed the parliament, tried to govern the country with presidential decrees, ignored checks and balances in governance and made the country dependent on one-man rule,” he told Arab News.

Antmen said that in the period following the coup, the economy, the rule of law and democracy all “collapsed,” while the media environment was “seriously polarized.”

He added: “The relevant clause that was annulled was a restriction of freedom of expression, press and the right to information.”