Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

The story of Egypt in print

Mai Samih reads the history of modern Egypt through Al-Ahram headlines at a recent exhibition in Cairo


The story of Egypt in print
The story of Egypt in print

In 1874 Selim Takla, a Lebanese citizen living in Egypt, was granted a royal concession to establish a weekly newspaper, Al-Ahram, in Alexandria. Then his brother Beshara Takla who had been living in Lebanon joined him. The newspaper’s headquarters soon moved to Cairo, and its first issue was published in 1876. In 1960, then president Gamal Abdel-Nasser nationalised the newspaper.

A recent exhibition entitled “Al-Ahram: the Memory of a Nation” showcased a compilation of issues of the paper recording main events in modern Egyptian history.

Organised on the fringe of a conference entitled “Al-Ahram 2025: A Smart, Integrated Media Institution”, the exhibition displayed a collection of historical issues collected over the years by Mohamed Omar who works in Al-Ahram.

Al-Ahram has not halted publication once over the past 142 years, Chairman of the Board Abdel-Mohsen Salama said when inaugurating the exhibition. The collection showcased the newspaper from the first issue until today, he said, featuring important headlines from the first issue when it was a weekly newspaper to the first daily issues. Some 108 separate issues were on display.

They included stories on the marriage of former king Farouk and queen Nariman in the 1940s, the evacuation of British troops from Egypt in the 1950s, the departure of king Farouk in the 1952 Revolution, and the 1973 October War, said Amany Zahran, head of the Al-Ahram Collections.

One of the issues showed the first issue in which the Al-Ahram logo was changed from black to red and black. The issue recording the wedding of Farouk and Nariman was the first to use red in the headlines.

“Al-Ahram has preserved a certain signature appearance and style. It has preserved it to the extent that even if the newspaper logo was not there, people would still know that this was Al-Ahram. The same goes for the quality of paper and the printing techniques. The photographic technology was not as advanced as it is today; however, the older pictures in Al-Ahram were of high quality and still are in the digital age,” Zahran said.

The first picture in Al-Ahram was published in September 1908.

Omar, the owner of the collection, said “I collect newspapers from any source, whether in Egypt or online auctions. I have been collecting these newspapers for about 20 years.” He indicated how different editions of Al-Ahram on the same day could have different headlines, depending on that day’s developments.

Zahran said there were rare issues in the exhibition, including the 15 May 1935 issue that contained the first issue of the Al-Ahram Al-Zeraei (Al-Ahram Agriculture) supplement. Another was the issue recording the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Another issue marks the death of Hitler and another the suicide of US actress Marilyn Monroe. Another marks the death of Egyptian singer Um Kolthoum.

There is also the issue that marked the beginning of the United Arab Republic that united Egypt and Syria in 1958 and another covering the Aswan High Dam. Some of the rarer issues include the first and that marking the death of nationalist leader Saad Zaghloul in 1927. 

“This exhibition shows the history of Egypt recorded through Al-Ahram,” Omar concluded.

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