JEDDAH: Arab News is in good company with Apple, Amazon and Disney.
All startups must begin somewhere, and many of the world’s largest — Microsoft, Dell, Google, Amazon, Apple and Disney — all started in a simple garage. On April 20, 1975, brothers Hisham and Mohammed Hafiz turned a dream into reality by establishing a startup that continues to prosper 45 years later.
Who would have thought that the first English-language newspaper in the Kingdom would have begun in a garage big enough to house half a dozen or so employees? The garage was located in the Al-Sharafiyah neighborhood in the heart of Jeddah, home to many businesses, showrooms and luxury residential buildings at the time.
The area was a busy district bustling with life. It was home to Broast, the first fried chicken restaurant that became a staple in every Jeddawi’s weekend cheat meal, known today as Al-Baik.
The garage was located in Al-Sawani building, located near the Egyptian Embassy, Nas for Classic Luxury cars, Saeed Appliances, Al-Nu’man stationary and bookstore and the Rock Garden, a park in the middle of a residential neighborhood with walkways and seating areas for families to enjoy.
Four Linotype machines, a line casting machine used for printing, four Linotype operators, the editor-in-chief and a proof-reader were the only occupants of the garage. Articles were produced, translated and composed on the machines. The printing press was in the hall-shaped building next to the garage.
In 1982, the newsroom moved to the Al-Madina Printing and Publishing building in Al-Faisaliyah district, a landmark building not far from the former location. The residents of the city called it the “Sharq Al-Awsat and Arab News building.” For many of the workers who recall those hectic first years, the memories of the small printing garage are still fresh in their minds, as they were part of a flourishing future that carried the legacy of two dreamers.
Forty-five years later, and with six bureaus spread across two continents, Arab News is still considered the “first Saudi English daily” that developed into “the voice of a changing region.”