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Kuwait Times celebrates 60 years since its founding

Yousuf Saleh Al-Alyan

On September 24, 1961, Kuwait Times published its first issue, ushering in a modern era of Kuwait journalism and establishing the first English-language daily in the Arabian Gulf. Kuwait Times was founded by Yousuf Saleh Al-Alyan, who was also president and founding member of the Kuwait Journalists Association.

Established just after Kuwait’s independence and the start of the country’s development renaissance – coupled with a social movement, cultural diversity and the welcoming of Arab and foreign residents – Kuwait Times served as the first newspaper for non-Arabic-speaking residents in Kuwait, bringing them the news of the world and presenting Kuwait’s news to the world. It represented the state abroad in front of the international community. Its premises was and remain in Industrial Shuwaikh on Sahafa Street.

Founder Yousuf Al-Alyan received the paper’s license from the Printing and Publications Department, which was then managed by the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The license was issued around the same time as the license given to late Abdulaziz Al-Musaeed to publish the Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper, which was Kuwait Times’ neighbor on Sahafa Street.

Abdulaziz Al-Musaeed and Yousuf S Al-Alyan were the pioneers of journalism in modern Kuwait.

Journalism visionary: Yousuf Saleh Al-Alyan
The late Yousuf Saleh Al-Alyan (may Allah bless his soul), was one of the pioneers of journalism in Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Kuwait Times from its establishment in 1961 until he passed away in December 2007. He was born and attended high school in Kuwait, then went to Britain and joined the prestigious University of London, where he obtained his BSc in Economics and Political Science in 1953.

Al-Alyan was fond of knowledge and exploring the world. His educational trip to England and visits to European countries were attributed to his contacts with various people and cultures and his wish to understand their languages, which was the reason behind his fluency in several foreign languages. He spoke French, German, Italian, Farsi and Hindi, besides Arabic and English.

He was selected as honorary president of Kuwait Journalists Association in appreciation of his role in serving journalism, replacing the late dean Abdulaziz Al-Musaeed. He was one of the founders of KJA in 1964 as well as Editor-in-Chief of Al-Fajr Al-Jadeed. Al- Alyan served as KJA President from 1978 until 1985 and from 1990 until 1992.

Al-Alyan was awarded many honors and medals including the Ordre du Merite from the French president in 2004 and the medal of the Order of Francisco de Miranda from the Venezuelan president, in addition to other awards and honors. The paper witnessed and participated in documenting the most notable events in Kuwait’s modern history, starting with the establishment of democracy, the first parliamentary elections, ratifying the constitution of the state, the establishment of diplomatic relations, Kuwait’s joining of the United Nations and Arab League, and the establishment of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

The paper documented the creation of ministries, establishments, companies, judiciary, Kuwait University, Kuwait International Airport and oil projects. The paper also witnessed the development of infrastructure, health and education in the 1970s, along with the construction of schools, hospitals and residential cities. It was an eyewitness to the golden era of sports in the 1980s and the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the 1990 Iraqi invasion and then the US-led liberation of Kuwait in 1991, reconstruction and integral challenges in the 1990s. It continues to cover events until today, completing its 60th year of continuous and regular publishing without interruption.

Evolution, innovation
To succeed, newspapers, like civilizations, must evolve. In 2005, Kuwait Times started the first ever English-language tabloid in Kuwait, the Friday Times. A 48-page weekly, the Friday Times is the invention of the current Editor-in-Chief Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan. Seeing the need to provide continuity to Kuwait’s English-language readers, Al-Alyan decided to make the newspaper a true daily by offering readers an exciting mix of local commentary, news, opinion and analyses. Filled with color pages showcasing interesting features about culture, technology, society and entertainment, Friday Times provides a relaxing read for the weekend.

An innovative idea, the Friday Times reshaped the face of Kuwait’s newspaper industry. Friday Times carries forward the heritage and traditions of its parent, Kuwait Times, by providing a forum for debate and discourse on everything from expatriate labor laws to the business and investment environment. It embodies the ideals of innovation and creativity, encouraging and inspiring the evolution that keeps Kuwait Times and Friday Times connected to and loved by Kuwaitis and expatriates alike.

The Friday Times also served as an avenue for innovation that helped Kuwait Times when it entered the field of social and digital media in the late 2000s. In a few short years, media in the region and the entire world was dramatically altered by the development of social and online media. Kuwait Times not only launched a website but also adopted channels including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to reach audiences across a range of platforms.

In its 60-year history, Kuwait Times has had only two Editors-in-Chief – Yousuf Saleh Al-Alyan and Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan, and three deputy editors-in-chief – Abdulaziz Al-Alyan, Dr Ziad Al-Alyan and in September 2020, Kuwait Times welcomed Abdullah Boftain, who took on the role of deputy editor-in-chief to help channel the newspaper’s further online development and growth.

Diversity for a diverse readership
In 1983, Badrya Darwish joined Kuwait Times and brought with her a worldview of diversity and excellence. She helped shape and launch a variety of additional publications and supplements including the widely popular Al-Fajr Al-Jadeed magazine.

Kuwait Times communicated with the country’s burgeoning communities by becoming the country’s only multilingual newspaper, publishing in English, Urdu, Malayalam and Tagalog. A separate 16-page daily insert provided thorough coverage of the Indian and Pakistani communities in Kuwait and political and economic events shaping South Asia. The weekly Filipino Panorama pages highlighted the activities and contributions of the Filipino community in Kuwait as well as key events and changes in the Philippines.

Darwish also helped develop Weekender, a special weekly full-color insert providing information about local events, activities and entertainment news. She developed Junior, an exclusive pullout focusing on Kuwait’s youth and offering educational content, youth news and coverage and information of school-based activities and events.

Remarkably, Kuwait Times has had only a handful of managing editors in its 60 years, including Dara Kadwa, Clement Mescina, Masudullah Khan and most recently, Jamie Etheridge, who served as managing editor for almost 13 years, from 2004 to 2009 and again from 2013 until the present.

The Kuwait Times, with 60 years of journalism, is proud of its professional achievements and its role in representing Kuwait abroad and defending its causes. It is the link with international media, news agencies and readers interested in news about Kuwait around the world. It is also considered a communication bridge with non-Arabic speaking residents and diplomatic missions and embassies in Kuwait.

The paper has achieved wide-ranging distribution inside and outside the country over these years. It has gained a large popular base of readers and long provided the market with distinguished journalistic expertise. Kuwait Times embodies the best of Kuwait – professionalism, creativity, innovation and determination to thrive, and we are proud of its achievements and continue to build its future in the role of serving Kuwait and all its readers.

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