Senior executives at the Kuwait Times look back
I joined the Kuwait Times in June 1983 and started working in the computer department to operate the imagesetter. There were five other colleagues of different nationalities with me. I worked in this department until 1985, then switched to the advertising department for a few months. Then I went to the USA. In the same year I returned to Kuwait and worked in reception until the brutal Iraqi invasion in 1990.
After the country was liberated, we returned to the newspaper, which was in ruins. The offices took a lot of work to be functional again. Since then, I have been in charge of the IT department to this day. Thanks to the efforts of the late Mr. Yousuf Saleh Al-Alyan and his wise leadership, the computer department went completely online, from the news feeds to the printing of the pages.
Madame Badriya’s efforts and her guidance gave me the experience necessary to evolve and keep pace with modern technology. The newspaper printing process when I started was very different than it is today. Working with the Intertype machines was very exhausting and creating the pages took too much time. The newspaper pages were prepared with molten lead – it was hard work, especially when there were mistakes that needed to be corrected.
We then moved on to using bromides and printing them on computers. They were then taken to the production department to be photographed to make printing plates. The process was later fully computerized to produce the newspaper in no time.
All honor goes to the late Mr. Yousuf Al-Alyan, after God, for what I have achieved so far, as he was like a father and teacher to me. I was motivated by his interest in the latest technologies and his training to set up the computer department. Whenever I felt tired or sick, he urged me to take care of my health. I remember an incident the night before he died. I was dizzy and tired. He advised me to go to the doctor and not neglect myself, so I went. In the morning I found out that he had died. That was a big shock to me because I had only spoken to him a few hours ago.
Credit is also due to Madam Badriya for what we have achieved and for her support and guidance. Mr. Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan then took over the administration and developed the newspaper. He was educated in the UK and was an influential influence on the Kuwait Times.
When I came to Kuwait in 1986, I got the opportunity to do the Kuwait Times. I worked in a small room with four experienced translators. They told me to start reading the Arabic newspapers, translate them into English, and then compare the translation with the original text. I was wondering, am I back in first grade ?! But believe me – that was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given.
One of the first “shocks” I got was when I saw a file with more than 500 A4 pages in front of me. I was told to go through it – the minutes of the parliamentary session that day – look for important news, translate it and give it to the title editor. That night was very long and I left the paper at 2 a.m. It was’nt easy!
The Kuwait Times used to have sections for Urdu and Malayalam, and the editors of those sections also hovered over my head for stories. This put me under a lot of pressure and one night I showed it without knowing that the founder of the newspaper Yousuf Al-Alyan (Abu Tareq), may Allah bless his soul, was present. He called me into his office, made some jokes, and then said, “Relax, boy! The job needs to be done, but do it on your own terms. ”That was his way of telling me the job needs to be done – period!
When Iraq invaded Kuwait, that day – August 2, 1990 – I went to the newspaper and Abu Tareq was there. Talking about what happened, he added that it won’t be long and will end one way or another. How true were his words! Kuwait was liberated in February of the next year. I wasn’t in Kuwait for about two years after the invasion. When I returned, I returned to the Kuwait Times. There were new faces, but the system stayed the same!
The editor-in-chief told me to keep my sentences short. He repeated the stories and wanted to know exactly what was behind what was being said, especially when it came to parliamentary and cabinet reports, which increased the pressure on me. There are many stories to tell about life in the newsroom, but here’s one last for now.
There were a couple of times when Iraqi troops rallied at the borders and once things were deemed credible the Allied troops prepared and the atmosphere simmered. Kuwait’s then information minister, the late Sheikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah, suddenly called a press conference. Abu Tareq gave me no chance of saying yes or no without hesitation and took me away. He got me to write the story, which I liked a lot later on as some quotes were taken from it. After almost 35 years at the newspaper, I have to say Happy Birthday Kuwait Times and move on!
My trip to the Kuwait Times began in May 1990. It was interesting and I learned how a newsroom works. The pressure of deadlines and the busy schedule don’t let me think of anything else during my working hours. I started out as a proofreader – I came to the Kuwait Times at 3 p.m. and left at 2 a.m. the next day. We used to get news from agencies through a telex printer, where we had to separate business, sports, international and local reports.
Editors recorded the main stories, put the page on, and gave them to the composer. The stories then came to us for proofreading. After marking the errors, we returned it to the typists. The page was set up manually by the page makers who glued in the text and images and sent them to the assembly department for platemaking.
After the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, I rejoined the Kuwait Times in September 1991. We started with a few employees with 12 pages that grew steadily. I came in the afternoon and finished at 3am. Since there were no buses and only a few cars, I slept in the reception and then took the first bus home at 5 a.m. After the invasion, we couldn’t know if it was day or night as the sky was covered with smog from burning oil wells that were set on fire by retreating Iraqi forces.
Over the years I was promoted to editor. Things were slowly changing from manual labor to computers where the messages flowed on our screens rather than telex. As an editor, I have done almost all sections – from local to sports to business, international and special supplements. It got even better when we switched to working online. I look back with pride on working with Kuwait Times past and present.
At Kuwait Times, we all work like family – we care about and respect one another. The atmosphere is sociable. Our founder and editor, the late Mr. Yousuf Al-Alyan, was humble and kind and always greeted everyone from the tea boys to the editors. I have been fortunate to have worked with the Alyan family for over 30 years. They treat everyone equally. My best wishes to the Kuwait Times on its 60th anniversary this year and also to our Editor-in-Chief, Senior Editor and all employees.