Rana Sabbagh on ARIJ: Starting ARIJ in 2006 was like planting olive trees in an open field. It takes years for the olive trees to start bearing fruit, to grow their roots and to spread their branches.
From a single entity 14 years ago, ARIJ has grown into a pillar of the global investigative journalism movement and the address for investigative journalism in the Arab world.
This newsletter features a special interview with ARIJ’s first Executive Director Rana Sabbagh, one of the founders of the leading Arab investigative journalism network that formally started its operations in 2006. Now, Sabbagh, a career journalist since 1984, is moving to Sarajevo to work as MENA editor at OCCRP.ORG, a high-tech, non-profit global investigative journalism platform and network that specializes in cross-border crime and corruption. It connects 45 non-profit investigative centers in 34 countries, scores of journalists and several major regional news organizations across Africa, Asia,the MENA region and Latin America.
For nearly 15 years. Sabbagh devoted her time to spread and consolidate the hitherto unknown culture and practice of investigative journalism across Arab countries, starting in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon before expanding it into a Pan-Arab movement of “accountability journalism”.
Sabbagh has extensive experience as a journalist, columnist and media trainer at Arab and international media outlets. Between 1999 and 2001, she became the Arab world’s first female editor-in-chief, as she pursued the role at Jordan’s only English-language daily, The Jordan Times. Before that, she worked with Reuters for 10 years in its Jordan and Dubai offices, where she covered the Gulf region, Iran and Yemen. She also helped launch Al-Ghad newspaper, Jordan’s latest independent daily in 2004. She wrote for The Times, London for nearly 10 years and worked part-time with Al-Hayat newspaper. Sabbagh is also a certified consultant for Thomson Reuters Foundation for Media Training.
Rana has been a elected as representative for the MENA region on GIJN’s Board of Directors for 3 consecutive terms
She stepped down from her position at ARIJ on January 1, 2020 in line with her public announcement in 2016 that she would leave ARIJ at the end of 2019 to make way for new blood to keep ARIJ going and ensure its vitality.