Today,18 February 2021, Watani International marks its 20th anniversary.
Admittedly, a 20th calls for celebration, but even more it induces reflection on the scale of change brought about in 20 years’ time.
Watani’s 20 years have witnessed events pivotal to the entire world, to our region, to our country, and to our homes. Each and every event left an indelible impact on us as we worked to cover them faithfully on all fronts, realising that our coverage would be a documentation of history as we lived it.
To cite but two such events, September 2001 witnessed what is now famous as 9/11, the terror attack by the Islamist al-Qaeda against the US. And January 2011 saw what was termed the Arab Spring, an event that brought Islamists to power in Egypt until the Egyptian people and army overthrew them through the massive millions-strong revolution on 30 June 2013.
As with every other business, Watani International moved from pen and paper to modern technology which incidentally served us perfectly under COVID-19. A major portion of our work today is done from home, and our focus is now not only the paper, but also its e-version, our website www.wataninet.com
Our Watani International team also went through many changes. An overwhelmingly female group who started as freshly graduated young women grew to become seasoned journalists and writers. This they did even as they went about having families of their own, taking care of beloved children and husbands. A few left Egypt altogether as they looked for brighter prospects on distant shores.
As for me … well, I’m 20 years older, more experienced, and hopefully wiser. I cherish every person who crossed my path and alongside whom I worked at Watani, every editor, journalist, administrator, and worker—starting with our Editor-in-Chief Youssef Sidhom who is also my brother and who lovingly, faithfully, and diligently leads and guides the paper, giving it his all; down to our smiling, invaluable office boys.
My thanks and appreciation, and especially my love, go to every one on our Watani International team, those of them who left, those who joined midway, and those who remain with us.
Ghada Tantawi began with us as a savvy translator, but left for a more superior opportunity. Marina Ihab, Donia Wagdy and Rania Farid were among our first translators; now Marina and Rania have careers and families in Australia, but Donia—now a mother of two lovely daughters—is still with us. Lydia Farid began as a trainee, but is now an important member of our team and mother to a fine little boy. Dalia Victor joined us later, only to become my right-hand person in Watani International together with Donia who is my other hand. The last to join us was Sherine Nader who quickly integrated in our team, made impeccable translations, and gained a warm place in our heart. But she had to leave to Canada for family reasons.
Two other very special persons on our team, Mahmoud Bakr and Heba Adel who have been with us ever since we started and until now, do our page design with passionate proficiency that borders on real art.
Each and every one of these wonderful persons has been for me an inspiration and motivation to move forward. Before COVID-19 times, our work together in the newsroom used to be a supremely joyful time. We worked, talked, argued, laughed, and ate together, our room was so lively and so brimming with life that everyone in the paper used to love to drop by.
Finally, what am I to say? Words are the tools and basis of my work, yet they fall short of expressing my gratitude to everyone who made and makes Watani International. Thank you all. I learned a lot from each you. You made my work a happy, cherished effort.
Editor of Watani International
18 February 2021