ISLAMABAD: Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition on Feb. 8, 2018. Two years later, it has become the Riyadh-based newspaper’s most successful digital expansion project.
It has been hailed by leading officials in Islamabad, academics and journalists as a shining example of fair and balanced journalism. As its parent title in Saudi Arabia celebrates the 45th anniversary of its launch, messages of congratulation have been pouring in from Pakistan.
“Arab News, I feel, will set new trends, with new commitment and new priorities in the region linked with the national interest of Pakistan,” said Firdous Ashiq Awan, a special assistant to the prime minister for information and broadcasting.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “We have 4 million Pakistanis living in the Middle East and in the Gulf states, so connecting with them through Arab News (is) very useful.”
Sen. Faisal Javed Khan, who is a member of Pakistan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party and oversees its social media operation, said: “Arab News is doing a lot of credible work. We share your website (links) on our Twitter handles.”
The promotion of quality over quantity, fact debunking fiction, and attracting readers without sensationalizing stories are the bedrocks on which Arab News was built. It was the Kingdom’s first English-language daily, and the Pakistan edition carries on this tradition through the practice of ethical journalism, while diligently navigating the country’s complexities and its vibrant media landscape.
“The difference between Arab News and other media is that it doesn’t believe in sensationalism,” said Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, who inaugurated the Arab News Pakistan bureau last year. “It is focusing on serious issues. This is what we expect from a serious media group like Arab News.”
Arab News arrived on the Pakistani media landscape as part of the newspaper’s ongoing global and digital expansion. With the aim of reporting news from across Asia, it hired a team of skilled journalists and assembled a network
of freelance contributors.
During its short life so far it has delivered several scoops, published important investigative reports, brought intriguing and public-interest stories to the fore, and helped bridge the information gap between the Middle East and Pakistan. All of this while highlighting the rich, diverse cultures of both regions for a growing readership, and maintaining an impeccable, untainted track record of credibility.
Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said: “Stories about the Middle East and Arabs have always appeared in Pakistan’s media. But what’s new here is we are trying to present it through our own eyes and not through the eyes of the international media.”
He also highlighted the technical innovations that the Pakistan edition is implementing.
“The second thing we are trying to introduce in the market is to digitalize the news story in a new (video) format (and present it) in less than 90 seconds,” he said.
The instant success of Arab News Pakistan, spearheaded by its bureau chief, encouraged bosses in Saudi Arabia to launch a second international edition. This went live in Japan in October last year, in both English and Japanese editions.
“The way that officials, and even the prime minister’s office, have (embraced) our content says a lot about the veracity of our news”, said Arab News Pakistan Managing Editor Javeriah Abbasi.
The backbone of Arab News Pakistan’s success is its talented team of reporters, editors and social media producers who sort through the news, checking facts and covering developments as they happen. It resists the temptation to publish news stories based on existing media reports from other outlets, instead striving to carve out a niche of its own in a challenging media landscape.
“I think there is a lot of information out there. There is a lot of clutter,” said senior online editor Wajahat Ali. “What Arab News is trying to do is bring clarity out of that clutter. We are trying to find information gaps and provide information to our readers that is as authentic as possible.”
Mohammed Ishtiaq, also a senior online editor, added: “Arab News always looks toward a story with an objective eye.”
Reporter Aamir Saeed said: “Arab News has allowed reporters to explore fresh angles that the local media usually ignores.”
Social media producer Sehrish Ghaffar, a core member of the publishing team, said that Arab News Pakistan “is encouraging women to participate in the field of social media, which is the front line of any news network in this digital world.”
Her colleague, Farheen Fatima, said that it has empowered women by expanding the media spotlight.