Times of Oman: Celebrating 45 years of news

45 years ago, Times of Oman, an integral part of Muscat Media Group, was born with the intention of creating an English newspaper that provided people in the Sultanate with the latest developments in Oman.

The paper was founded by the late Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, who wanted to bring to Oman’s sizeable expatriate population a paper that kept them up to date with the latest developments in the Sultanate, and although he is no longer among us, his sons help in keeping alive his legacy, and continue to honour the spirit with which this publication was first created.

Many of Times of Oman’s readers have on this day chosen to share their experiences of the paper, and how it has evolved over the years.

Among those was Syed Ali Sibtain Naqvi. Now more than 85 years old, ‘Naqvi Saab’ first came to Oman in 1982, on a two-year assignment. Like many foreign nationals in the country; he’d expected to complete his term here and then return to India.

Fate, however, would have other things in store for him: having initially arrived here to coach the country’s national hockey team, Naqvi Saab, as he came to be fondly known, accompanied the Sultanate as the team’s Technical Advisor to five Olympic Games and six Asian games between 1982 and 2002.

With the 1982 Asian Games being held in New Delhi, the capital of his home country, it was only natural for him to accompany them there, but he stayed on, and would be a part of the team that travelled to Seoul 1986, Beijing 1990, Hiroshima 1994, and Bangkok 1998. Naqvi was also part of the Oman team that made it to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Sydney in 2000.

“I have met the founder of Times of Oman, the late Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, on several occasions, and he had previously attended many of my functions as well,” he said. “When it came to coverage of sports news, political news, economic news and photojournalism, there was no parallel to Times of Oman. This shows the big strides the paper has taken, and it is now one of the biggest papers in the Gulf. I congratulate them once again, and may the paper progress with the same vision and the same belief.

“It is my great pleasure and honour to congratulate Times of Oman for completing 45 years of its establishment,” said Naqvi. “When I came in 1982, it was a small tabloid that used to only come once a week. I would like to congratulate them for improving the standards of daily news, giving good sports coverage, and coverage to VIPs who came to the country. It has been my privilege to congratulate the Times of Oman, which has always provided me support when it has come to hockey and the Oman Olympic Committee.”

The long journey Times of Oman has taken would not have been possible without our readers. Simply put, their loyalty to our publications is immense, and their commitment is what has kept us strong and motivated through the years. It is, therefore, important for us to thank the readers who have helped us get here.

Our intention to inform and educate, has seen our readership grow to the millions: just this January, 11 million people visited our website, timesofoman.com, while on social media, we have more than 850,000 dedicated followers who receive timely updates from our newsroom. It was only natural, therefore, for us to invite our readers to share their thoughts on their experiences of Times of Oman over the years.

Originally from Sudan, Motassim Hussain has been reading the paper ever since he arrived in the Sultanate, and called it a leading newspaper in Oman and the rest of the Gulf.

“I am celebrating alongside our friends at Times of Oman, their completion of 45 years,” he said. “I believe these 45 years of success are because they have become well-known as a reputed newspaper all over the GCC. All this has come due to the great efforts of the people who are working at this organisation. I want to thank them once again, and wish them all the success and progress in the future.”

Shehnaz Wasti is one of the paper’s longest-standing readers. She opened her first copy of TOO back when it was still a weekly, and now continues to follow the paper in both its physical and digital forms. “I started reading Times of Oman in 1975, when it was a weekly publication. Later on, it became a daily publication that has progressed tremendously, both in terms of content, and other sections of media publications. We have enjoyed reading it for so many years, and we are glad that we can now read Times of Oman online as well. Heartiest congratulations on the occasion of the 45th anniversary, and I wish for more growth and progress for Times of Oman in the years to come.”

Omani journalism student Rayyan Al Shibli said papers like Times of Oman helped them understand how to take their classroom experience and apply it in the real world. “Times of Oman is considered one of the leading newspapers in Oman, and I would like to thank this paper, because it gives us journalism students a chance to publish our work. This gives us the motivation to compete in this sector, and should I get a chance to work here, I would definitely not miss it.”

How Times of Oman was formed

Mohamed Essa Al Zadjali, Chairman, Muscat Media Group

Newspapers carry stories that are intended to create change and live long in the memory, and that is surely true of the tale that led to the birth of Times of Oman. Mohamed Al Zadjali, the Chairman of the Times of Oman, once asked his father the same question so many of us have wondered since: how did this paper first come to life?

“It all started with my father in 1975,” he recalled. “A lot of people have asked me the question: ‘how did your father came 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 the country,” explained 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.

“After a few weeks however, he found out that 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 Fahad bin Mahmoud who was the Minister of Information during that time. His Highness welcomed the idea and encouraged and supported him in launching this newspaper as soon as was possible.”

“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,” added Mohamed Al Zadjali. “I think all this success has been made possible due to the loyalty shown by the people who read, watch and listen to us, who made sure that this newspaper went on to become, and continued to stay the number one newspaper in the Sultanate.”

Significant growth over the last decade

Ahmed Issa Al Zedjali, CEO, Muscat Media Group

The journey Times of Oman has been on since its foundations were first laid has been immense. The paper’s CEO, Ahmed bin Issa Al Zedjali, says the paper has since diversified to evolve into a full-fledged media outlet, one that is able to reach people at their convenience…in more ways than one. While some, for example, would prefer reading the paper, others would like to catch up with the latest across Oman online, while still more would prefer watching the news, on the go, on their tablets. It is this synergy that has helped Times of Oman become the most widely-read publication in Oman.

“These days, the first place we see our news is on the screens of our mobile phones, so we want to be where our readers want to be, on whichever platform that might be,” explained the CEO. “I would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to our readers for their unwavering support for us. From our part, we will always strive to be a company whose association they can be proud of.

“Breaking news, for example, can go online, before being expanded upon through a video from Times TV,” he went on to say. “A deeper story can then be issued in print, while a detailed discussion can take place on our radio station. All of these sectors complementing each other through strong synergy and understanding will be the key to our success in the future, and will give us a truly unique position in Oman.”

“Over the years we launched many other products that are today a part of our group,” explained Ahmed Al Zedjali. “I state with pride that Times of Oman has gone through significant growth over the last decade. Our organisation has turned 45, and I wish our founder, Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, were with us to see the journey we have undertaken.”

“The paper was our father’s vision and it was his dream to see it grow,” said Ahmed Al Zedjali, addressing the readers. “It was the immense love for his beloved country that inspired him to launch the newspaper. This was born from the passion of serving his country. Our father wanted the paper to be a roving ambassador for the Sultanate of Oman. We look forward to your continued patronage to share with you our vision for the years that now lie ahead. The next decade of our relationship with you will certainly be more endearing to both you and us.”