MILESTONES 2002 Yemen Times throws 11th anniversary party at the Taj Sheba [Archives:2002/11/Reportage]
By Yemen Times Staff
The newspaper you are reading, young as it is, has a storied history that was celebrated at the Taj Sheba Hotel on March 4.
Following is a brief overview of the people, events and accomplishments which have made The Yemen Times the most popular English newspaper in the country, and one that is continuing to become even better as we focus on the needs and desires of our readers.
The Times was founded in 1990 by Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, but the first issue came out on February 28, 1991. It was the first English-language newspaper in the Republic of Yemen following the unification of 1990.
The beginning was humble and tough. Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf started the newspaper with just two computers, a printer, and other essential peripherals. The staff was only four employees working all week long to get the paper published on time.
The difficulties were many and of different dimensions. It was basically a challenge that no one expected Dr. Saqqaf to overcome. First there was the financial aspect. Then there was the marketing and publicity challenge. But most of all, human resources was the main obstacle that needed to be overcome.
But Dr. Saqqaf had a vision. He had a complete vision in front of him. That ideal was of a newspaper that stands up for what is right, reports facts with no alteration, and promotes democracy and freedom of the press in Yemen and in the Arab world.
Amid the different opposition, government, and party-oriented newspapers that flourished during the early nineties, the Times had a different objective: constructive and balanced reporting of the truth no matter what the consequences were.
But there was also another goal on mind of its founder, that is to produce a newspaper that could serve as an example in terms of institutionalization of the press.
Circulation Increase (1992)
The newspaper increased its circulation dramatically in 1992 and enhanced its marketing skills to attract more advertisers who would realize how beneficial it is to advertise in an English-language newspaper. With the increase of revenue from advertisements and subscriptions, Dr. Saqqaf decided to add more equipment including more computers and software.
International presence, 1993
Subscribers to the newspaper more than doubled that year, and the paper by then had subscribers from more than 20 countries worldwide.
In March 1994, the Times became the first modernly networked newspaper in the republic, putting it in the top position in terms of quality design and printing.
Awarded in 1995
The growth and good reputation continued and the paper became an internationally renowned newspaper reaching more than 45 countries. The paper was distinguished in the Arabian Peninsula for its strong and independent opinion, respected by all intellectuals in government, opposition, and others.
The editor had by then won the most prestigious award to be given to an Arab journalist. That was the 1995 National Press Club Award in the International Category. The award was given to Dr. Saqqaf for his courageous reporting and writings that reflected a strong stand that defends human rights and freedom of the press.
A reliable source, 1996
The most noticeable event of 1996 was the dramatic increase in the number of organizations that would use the Yemen Times as their source of information about various events and the situation in Yemen. They realized that it was a source to depend on and trust.
Yemen Times Online, 1997
The year 1997 was a whole new beginning. It ushered the birth of YemenTimes.Com, the online version of Yemen Times. The newspaper was a pioneer in being the first Yemeni newspaper to be published online.
Readers in any country of the world would now be able to read the news of Yemen from any spot on this planet. It was truly a step that revolutionized the newspaper.
In its own building, 1998
In this year, the Yemen Times purchased its three-storey building on Hadda Street, after years of staying in rented space. The new spacious building allowed the different departments to operate smoothly.
The paper by then had five major departments including the editorial department, technical department, advertising department, sales and subscription department, financial department, archive department, administrative department, and printing and distributing department.
All departments would work together in a well-organized manner, putting the newspaper ahead of the rest of others and making it a standard.
The demise of the founder, 1999
On June 2, 1999, Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf left us for good after demonstrating the skills of guiding the newspaper to international status. He died in a tragic traffic accident a few hundred meters away from the newspaper that he founded and loved so very much.
However, the newspaper continued to be published every Monday following his sad demise. His elder son Walid took charge of everything, demonstrating a remarkable ability to lead the newspaper and have it continue to grow and develop.
Fresh blood, fresh ideas, 2000
During the year 2000, the new editor-in-chief had implemented dozens of enhancements and projects that resulted in assuring the Times had a strong future.
We might have lost its founder, but the Times is still there in the market and everywhere you go.
Despite his young age, Walid was able to bring new ideas and enhancements, new pages and a new look to the paper. This attracted thousands of new readers of different ages, especially students who were able to benefit from the education page of the paper.
More work, 2001
The year 2001 could be seen as the most exhausting year for the whole staff, as several supplements of high quality were published and the Times was able to gain much wider reputation in the whole Arabian peninsula as it increased its distributed issues to the Gulf countries and beyond.
2002 A new beginning:
This is the theme of the new layout and design of the paper. On February 11 2002, the paper surprised its readers with an enhanced look and greater content. It jumped from 16 to 24 pages and included news items from the whole world.
This is because the need to adapt to globalization has sharpend our newspaper’s team to think globally as well as locally.
Medals and awards
The Yemen Times received an large number of medals and awards from several public and private establishments in Yemen. However, the NPC Award was the most prestigious of all. Prof. Saqqaf flew to Washington DC to receive the award at the NPC headquarters. He was and remains the only Arab journalist who wins this prestigious award.
Why the Yemen Times is different; why its successful
Many newspapers and media establishments ask this. Three elements can be considered the main factors behind its success: Honesty in reporting, good organization, and hard work.
There is another factor that is of great importance, and that is care and attention to its employees who are the men and women working hard behind the scenes. They are the ones who make it happen, and they deserve the greatest of attention.
The newspapers top place in the Yemeni market is due to the dedication and devotion of the staff to produce quality reports and advertisements. We have a professional staff working on design of advertisements to be appealing and attractive. This is what attracts advertisers.
Popularity and distribution
It is a fact that the Yemen Times is the most widely read and distributed newspaper in English language here in Yemen. It also stands as one of the leading newspapers in the country, despite being in English-language.
Surveys revealed that during early 2002, the Times was the best selling weekly newspaper in the country.
The newspaper reaches all governorates of the country, and has active branches in Taiz and Aden, plus representatives in Hodeidah, Ibb, and other governorates.
The newspaper distributes to all Gulf States, and has correspondents in India, the UK, and other countries.
As the editor-in-chief says, This is not enough!
The paper is determined to continue to develop and become a newspaper with greater international recognition.
Let us keep the future, for now, as the unknown. With that said, we are certainly not satisfied with where we are. The staff has committed itself to not stop at a this point. For us, only the sky is the limit.