Editor-in-Chief of Malayalam News to the Yemen Times: Media in Yemen enjoys a good democratic freedom [Archives:2002/04/Culture]

January 21 2002

The Editor-in-Chief of Malayalam News, Farouk Lukman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the founders of Arab News Newspaper. He studied journalism and can be considered one of the leading pioneers in the field of journalism not only in the KSA or in Yemen but also in the whole world. He wrote several books in Arabic and among his famous books are Yemen Today in 1970, A World without Limits, Taiwan Story, Indian Curries. Aden Bureau Chief, Ridhwan al-Saqqaf met with him and filed the following interview.
Q: Will you give us a brief account of yourself as a journalist?
A: Actually, I was taught by my father. He was the first journalist in the south of Yemen. He is a holder of Master’s degree in journalism. He was one of the founders of the first English newspaper in Yemen, Aden Chronicle and Fatat al-Jazera, an Arabic Newspaper, which continued till 1958. In 1962 and after holding the Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, I worked as a correspondent to a number of the international newspapers in Aden, such as, Financial Times, New York Times, News Week and the Associated Press. After the confiscation of the publishing house owned by my family after independence in 1967 I worked as a correspondent.
Q: Fatat al-Jazera is the first Arabic Newspaper in Yemen, how was it confiscated?
A: Yes, Fatat Al-Jazera was founded by my father in 1940 and in 1958, we were informed that the newspaper was confiscated and then I worked as a correspondent.
Q: How did you participate in founding the Arab News Newspaper in the KSA?
A: In 1972 I traveled to the KSA and I got aquainted with the publishers there, Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafedh. With those two people, we could publish a daily English Newspaper there.
As a result of the availability of the press potentialities and employing local and foreign qualified staff, we could publish the first issue of the Arab News in 1975. I was the Managing Editor and then I worked as Editor-in-Chief during my work for the Saudi Company for Researches and Publications. We turned no stones unturned to publish more than 25 daily, weekly and monthly printed publications in several languages. Six daily newspapers were published in four languages including the Middle East, Sports, Economy, Arab News, and Bela Hudod (Without Limits). At this moment I work as an Editor-in-Chief of Malayalam News.
Q: How do you assess the role of the journalistic work in Yemen?
A: Actually, to my knowledge and through reading the Yemen Times and other Yemeni newspapers, I found that there is a press freedom in presenting and discussing problems. This of course, represents the true democratic atmosphere and the reality of the free journalism in Yemen. I do say that the Yemen Times is an example of press freedom and the courage to pose problems. I wrote an article talking about the Dr. al-Saqqaf’s courage in this respect.
Q: How do you prospect the reality of the Yemeni journalism abroad? What about the Arab media?
A: The media in Yemen enjoys a good democratic freedom particularly after the countrys unity on May 22 1990.
I feel optimistic about the improvement of the Arab media. The Arab media has been widely spread but it doesn’t reach the level of the CNN, Washington Post or New York Times.
Q: At this era, the era of information technology, what do you think does the Arab reader need?
A: The reader needs to seek information wherever it is. With the spread of information technology, the Arab reader needs to acquaint him/herself with everything (s)he sees.
Q: How do you assess conditions in Yemen in general and Aden in particular?
A: I first left Aden in the 1970s and came back in 1994 and 1999. To tell the truth, during my first visit to Aden I was really saddened to see recession, backwardness and poverty. After five years, particularly during my second visit to Aden I was deeply delighted to see rapid improvements throughout skirts of the city.
Yemen has been progressing by leaps and bounds toward comprehensive reforms in the field of economy, investment, democracy and commerce.
I thank the Yemen Times for its efforts to cope with the era of information technology. Its founder Dr. Abdulaziz al-Saqqaf proved to be the vigorous person that feared no one.