Muscat: The Times of Oman, a newspaper that started as a weekly publication in 1975, is now celebrating 45 years of its momentous journey as the country’s leading English daily.
On this watershed occasion, Mohammed Issa Al Zadjali, the Chairman of Muscat Media Group, talks about how the operation of the newspaper started with the commitment and devotion put in by his late father, Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali.
“Today we are celebrating our 45th anniversary since the launching of the newspaper,” said the Chairman.
“It all started with my father in 1975. A lot of people have asked me the question: ‘how did your father come up with the idea of publishing Times of Oman?’ I once asked him the same question when I was young and he told me that when he was working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974, he was in-charge of providing all the airlines permission to fly over the Sultanate.
“In late 1974, in a request sent to my father from a company called Flying Tiger, to get permission to fly over Oman, the company had misinterpreted the positioning of the country,” recalled Al Zadjali.
“In telex it was written ‘Muscat, Oman, Saudi Arabia’ and that gave an impression of Oman being a part of Saudi Arabia.”
“He was a little bit unhappy that the company did not know that Oman is an entirely different country and, therefore, he didn’t give them the permission to fly over Oman,” the Chairman added.
“After a few weeks, however, he found out that this could’ve been because there was no media available in the country, except those that broadcast in Arabic that could tell the world about Oman,” he explained.
“So, the idea of publishing a newspaper in English came to his mind and he approached His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said who was the Minister of Information during that time. His Highness welcomed the idea and encouraged him in launching this newspaper as soon as possible.”
The Times of Oman was therefore born on February 23, 1975, with the first editions initially put out as a weekly newspaper. The transition from weekly publication to daily newspaper was subsequently made in 1991.
“All the expats living in the country were very excited to know that they could read about what was happening in Oman, and at the same time, enjoy reading about the cities and places they could travel to within the Sultanate,” said the Chairman.
“We also became the first English newspaper to be sent worldwide, using a newspress service that was provided by a lot of five-star hotels before the internet came. So, anybody flying to a specific destination wanting to get a copy of Times of Oman, could receive it through the newspress services available in the hotel.”
News publications With the changes available to news publications, thanks to the advancement in technologies, Times of Oman continued setting up fresh milestones, to the point that they became the first newspaper to launch their Arabic version on the internet.
“In 2005, we also launched our first e-paper and received a great response from the readers,” explained Al Zadjali.
“With the progress in technology and the presence of social media platforms, Times of Oman always managed to lead across all the platforms in the country. At present, a lot of people are reading our newspaper through emails they receive as part of their subscription, as well as on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter – basically, whatever medium on which we are available, with which they are comfortable.”
He added: “In 2018, we then launched our radio station known as TFM, alongside Times TV so that our readers could also now hear and watch us. I think all this success has been made possible due to the loyalty shown by the people who read, watch and listen to us, and also, because of our hardworking employees who made sure that this newspaper went on to become, and continued to stay the number one newspaper in the Sultanate.”