I was in high school when my letter was first published in Asharq al-Awsat’s “Letters to the Editor” section. Of course, I need not explain how a boy my age was delighted to see his name published in the leading Arab newspaper. This experience was sufficient for me to begin a period of endless affection for the international publication. Once I embarked on a journalism career in 1988, through al-Eqtisadiah newspaper, my special relationship with Asharq al-Awsat never ceased, nor do I expect it to stop after my appointment as Editor-in-Chief of al-Eqtisadiah.
Since its establishment in 1978, the newspaper has been nurtured its green garden of knowledge which has become more bountiful and profound with every passing day. Senior figures soon joined the paper, and it gave rise to prominent journalists who, later on, contributed to a turning point in the history of Arab journalism. The newspaper itself has continued to flow throughout the years, like a stream of running water without a moment’s pause, and without it expecting anything in return. This is how Asharq al-Awsat is; it is a newspaper which is accustomed to giving, and is only satisfied once it has risen to the top.
13 years have passed since I embarked on the journalism career which I initiated with al-Eqtisadiah, and then Asharq al-Awsat. Now I return to al-Eqtisadiah once again. However, the most significant, wonderful and exciting period in my career as a journalist has been the last two years which I spent in the Asharq al-Awsat head office in London, as an Assistant Chief Editor of this wonderful newspaper. Chronologically speaking it was only two years, but if I speak in terms of practical experience, my time at the newspaper was worth 20 years. During this period, I worked alongside a spectrum of senior journalists, writers and officials from the Arab region and the wider world. I observed, benefited and was influenced by Asharq al-Awsat’s high standards of professionalism and attention to detail.
Here, I must refer to the ship’s captain; my colleague Tariq Alhomayed. He has become my “former president”, which somewhat liberates me from the restrictions that govern the relationship between a senior official and his employees. This will allow me to reveal some of his flaws, especially as I am no longer accountable to him. Isn’t it a purely Arab trait to expose the defects of former presidents? Perhaps the most serious defect pertaining to the editor-in-chief of the largest Arab newspaper is that this man is full of relentless energy, which prompts the newspaper’s staff to work every day and every hour in search of perfection and professionalism, and in search for excellent news wherever it may be. It is no exaggeration that Tariq Alhomayed can wear out anyone with his enthusiasm, which some may see as excessive. However, it is generally accepted that this was and continues to be one of the main reasons behind the newspaper’s superiority. Having been absorbed in the newspaper’s daily work, I can point out here that Tariq Alhomayed never requested special attention to be given to a specific news article out of courtesy, which is unfortunately a widespread habit in numerous Arab newspapers.
Many people who have worked for this newspaper, even for a short period, proudly highlight this fact on their resumés. So what can you say about someone like me, who spent his entire life as a fascinated reader, then as a minor correspondent proud of his affiliation, and finally assuming a leading position? Undoubtedly, this is the target and the dream of the bulk of Arab journalists. This wonderful green publication holds a certain kind of fascination for all its readers.
Ever since I began to read newspapers on a daily basis, I always sought to start my day with a rich meal of knowledge by viewing the latest news through Asharq al-Awsat. However, such joy ended when I worked for the newspaper’s head office, as my job was to edit and monitor pages before they were printed, and then read them the next day with the eye of an official, not a reader. Now that I have left this position, I am now free to enjoy my old pastime once again, if nothing more than to console myself.
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. Hence, I will never cease to enjoy reading this wonderful green publication. Thank you to all my colleagues who aided me and assisted me during my career. Thank you to Asharq al-Awsat and welcome to Al Eqtisadiah.