By: Faiz Al-Najdi
Editor-in-Chief of Urdu News and Malyalam News – Tarek Abdul Hameed Mishkhas – was honored by Pakistanis in Riyadh this past weekend. He was the Chief Guest at a reception hosted in his honor by Engr. Tariq Soomro – the President of Pakistan Investors Forum – aka: PIF.
Welcoming Tarek Mishkhas to Riyadh Engr. Soomro mentioned that Tarek Mishkhas was a proud recipient of Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam in 2010 – one of the highest civil awards in Pakistan. “Tariq is well known as an intellectual and a journalist-cum-writer of a high standing in the Saudi society. He is equally known and quite popular too amongst the Expatriate community, especially with the Pakistanis, for his services and contributions to Urdu News and Malyalam News”, he informed. Soomro also informed that Tarek Mishkhas has travelled widely throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan. “He is the one who actually encouraged and motivated the Saudi Writer Yusf Safrallah – to write a book on Pakistan entitled, Pakistan: The Land of Seasons and Sceneries”, he added. Engr. Soomro also mentioned that Urdu News was in fact quite popular amongst the Pakistan community. “It is popular for the basic reason that it brings news from home and makes us feel homely”, Soomro remarked. Engr. Soomro then allowed the audience to introduce themselves to the Chief Guest.
After this brief introductory session, the floor was then handed over to Tarek Mishkhas for his address. Tariq said he was very delighted to be amongst the Pakistani readers of Urdu News this evening. “It is always good to be amongst the readers wherein it becomes possible to get feed back about the newspaper first hand”, he mentioned. He also promised to make frequent visits to Riyadh and have similar sessions with the readers’ community in Riyadh. He informed that at Urdu News he has a dedicated team who are working hard to bring out a daily newspaper in Urdu. “You see these days it is hard to bring out dailies as most people tend to read news online. We have to incur losses and are struggling hard to cover the losses via advertisements. The revenue generated through circulation of newspapers is barely enough to meet the printing cost. And, advertisements are in fact the life line for any newspapers”, he informed the audience. He also added that despite financial difficulties, Urdu News continues to be published and shall move into the future with added number of pages and with changes for better.
After his brief talk he entertained questions from the audience. The audience took keen interest in his talk and overwhelmed him with lots of questions.
One question and few others were directed towards the content of the newspaper and the need for improvement. To this Mishkhas informed that it was his desire to bring in syndicate writers from the leading Urdu newspapers in Pakistan. “However, it is associated with costs and Urdu News cannot do that now – and may be in future we should be able to engage with some of them”, he informed. Answering a question about the closure of the Friday Urdu Magazine he mentioned that Urdu Magazine was incurring a loss of about o.5 million per year. “I know Urdu Magazine was quite popular amongst its readers but it was sheer reason of running into losses that forced us to take this harsh decision of its closure”, he informed. He however said that he was looking for some dedicated sponsor in terms of a sustained advertisement for this magazine and may be hopefully in some years this Urdu Magazine would return with all its glamour.
To another question about its distribution and no-availability at many places, he informed that he was aware of this difficulty and he would do al in his capacity and control to bring about an improvement towards that end.
He welcomed one suggestion about considering to publish one or two pages weekly in Pushto as most Pakistani taxi drivers were Pushto speaking and it was also an interesting fact that they were avid readers of Urdu news too. A question was also brought forward about the issue of its non-availability in the Saudi Airlines – both in its domestic and international flights. Tarek promised that he would look into this issue and try to make it available. In this connection it was also suggested by one that Pakistan International Airlines aka: PIA should consider entering into yearly contract with Urdu News to make this newspaper available in all its 32 flight per week to Pakistan from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Arshad Shaikh – Marketing Manager of PIA in Riyadh – promised to bring this suggestion to his upper management for their consideration and approval.
Beside the host, this reception was attended and participated by the following noted personalities of Riyadh: Choudhry Nazir Ahmed Jutt, Waseem Bajwa (newly arrived Commercial Conselor at the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh), Ghulam Haider Ali Khan, Sardar Razzak, Arshad Shaikh, Rana Khalid Akram, Dr. Asad Roomi, Fayyaz Khan, Muhammad Rasooldeen, Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Sanobar Sani, Zahoor Ul Hasan, Javed Iqbal, Khalid Rana, Khalid Raja, Zubair Munir, Amjad Ali Khan, Manzar Khan, Qari Aziz Ur Rehman, and Faiz Al-Najdi.
The program concluded with closing speech by the host – Engr. Tariq Soomro – and with sumptuous dinner.
Faiz Al-Najdi is a Riyadh Based Professional Engineer, a Writer, and a Social Worker; Email: email@example.com
~ Received via Email.