Revealed: 10 Oldest Newspapers In The GCC

The majority of the early newspapers in the region were founded in Saudi Arabia.

By
Aarti Nagraj
March 26, 2013

With the speedy rise of digital media, obituaries are now being written – quite often – for numerous newspapers across the Western world.

The print media industry in the Gulf region is faring much better however, with newspapers still enjoying a decent share of the regional advertising spend. While it is debatable how transparent and honest the regional newspapers are, they do continue to boast a wide readership base.

Most of the popular regional newspapers, especially the English language ones, were created in the seventies, eighties or the nineties. But the earliest dailies were started as early as 1920.

The 10 oldest newspapers in the Gulf –

1. Al Falah

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1920
Country: Saudi Arabia

The oldest newspaper in the GCC, Al Falah (The Peasant) appeared in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

2. Um al Qura

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1923
Country: Saudi Arabia

Al Falah was followed by Um al Qura (The Mother of Villages – one of Mecca’s names in Arabic), which was the official newspaper of the newly founded Saudi Kingdom.

3. Al Bilad

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1932
Country: Saudi Arabia

The paper began publication in April 1932 under the name Voice of Hijaz before changing its name to Al Bilad (The Country), 28 years later. It has been struggling to stay afloat in recent times.

4. Bahrain

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1936/1938
Country: Bahrain

Bahrain, a weekly, was the Kingdom’s first newspaper and carried news articles from Arabic speaking broadcasting services such as the BBC. The newspaper published its last issue on May 15, 1994.

5. Al Madina

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1936/1937
Country: Saudi Arabia

Started as a weekly by the Hafiz brothers, the pro-government newspaper was later converted into a daily and continues to be published from its headquarters, now in Jeddah.

6. Al Nadwa

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1958
Country: Saudi Arabia

The Mecca-based newspaper, considered religiously conservative, was reportedly forced to shut down operations in February this year because of unpaid financial dues.

7. Okaz

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1960
Country: Saudi Arabia

Based in the city of Hijaz, Okaz was originally a cultural weekly, but is now printed daily in Riyadh and Jeddah and distributed across the Kingdom. The New Yorker has described the paper as an Arabic version of the New York Post.

8. Kuwait Times

Language: English
Founded: 1961
Country: Kuwait

The oldest English-language newspaper in the Gulf, Kuwait Times was founded by Yousuf Saleh Alyan. The 40-page broadsheet also publishes special pages in Urdu, Malayalam and Tagalog to cater to the country’s expatriate community.

9. Al Jazirah

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1962/1963
Country: Saudi Arabia

A pro-government daily, Al-Jazirah is known for its daily supplements, and claims to be the first newspaper in the Kingdom to launch a website in 1996.

10. Al Riyadh

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1965
Country: Saudi Arabia

Published in the capital, Al Riyadh began with a limited number of pages, but now claims to print between 80-100 pages per day. It is also reported to be the first Saudi newspaper to include caricatures.

10. Al Yaum

Language: Arabic
Founded: 1965
Country: Saudi Arabia

Also started in 1965 in Dammam, Al Yaum was first launched as a weekly publication, becoming a daily in 1978. Considered pro-government, the paper publishes supplements on sports and business.

Sources: Arab Press Network, The Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio and Television in Arab Politics by William Rugh.

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