I wrote my last article for Asharq Al-Awsat more than 1,000 days ago (Opinion: Thank You Asharq Al-Awsat) when I left the newspaper for Al Eqtisadiah. I ended this article by saying: “It is true that I have left Asharq Al-Awsat, but it has not left me, because although we may leave a place the memories do not leave our hearts.” And now here I am, after almost three years, returning to my eternal love: the beautiful Asharq Al-Awsat and its green-tinted pages. So what can a new editor-in-chief do to add to this well-established newspaper?
I believe that respectable media outlets do not change their policies with a change in the editor-in-chief. Longstanding institutions maintain fixed and solid policies, and Asharq Al-Awsat, known for being well-respected, has seen editors-in-chief come and go and continues to hold its course. Asharq Al-Awsat is like a colossal ship, and changes to the editor-in-chief do not affect its course. One editor-in-chief leaves and another comes in his place and the newspaper remains set on its course. Of course, the editor-in-chief’s influence on the newspaper will be noticed by readers from time to time.
Asharq Al-Awsat will work according to its slogan as “the world’s premier pan-Arab newspaper.” The newspaper will continue to be, thanks to its multiple editions published across the world, the voice of the Arabs, wherever they might be. It will raise their issues and discuss their concerns and will not hesitate to put their voice forward. The newspaper will be open to everybody and for everybody. Asharq Al-Awsat cannot claim 100 percent neutrality, but it will adhere 100 percent to professional standards. It will not ignore any voice or side or party, whoever or wherever they are, with the exception of terrorism and terrorists, where there is no room for neutrality.
Along with our belief that print media remains at the height of its power and influence, we also believe that real journalism keeps pace with the demands of the time.
We will not overlook any of the technological opportunities and we will use this to increase the spread of the newspaper as much as possible. Just as we rejoice in our print readers, we will also rejoice in the readers who engage with Asharq Al-Awsat via tablets and smartphones, and we will be overjoyed to engage with our readers across the world via social media. At the end of the day, the most important thing for the newspaper is to reach the largest possible number of readers across the world. It does not matter how readers engage with the newspaper, the most important thing is for everyone to read Asharq Al-Awsat’s excellent content.
I consider myself lucky to be the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, not because it is the largest or most influential Arab newspaper, but because of its professional, qualified staff, staff which any media institution would be proud to have. Thus, the task of any editor-in-chief in charge of such a distinguished team of journalists will not be too difficult.
On the personal front, I also consider myself lucky. When I took my first steps in the world of journalism, it was with the Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG) in 1997. At the time, SRMG gave me all the attention and appreciation I needed to succeed, and I am honored to have continued working for publications under the company’s umbrella since then, up to my appointment as editor-in-chief of Al Eqtisadiah in 2011. And today I am honored to be appointed as Asharq Al-Awsat’s editor-in-chief.
Finally, I would like to mention something that perhaps only a few people know about. Eight years ago—on February 5, 2006, to be specific—while I was working as Asharq Al-Awsat’s Bahrain correspondent, I met with the Governor of Medina and former Chairman of SRMG, Prince Faisal Bin Salman, in London. During our meeting, he told me explicitly: “We are grooming a number of young journalists to take on executive roles in SRMG’s publications. This is an opportunity that is open to you, and it is in your own hands to seize it. The ball is now in your court; it is up to you to shoot and score.”
I can only say, thank you, Prince Faisal! And now, it’s back to Asharq Al-Awsat.