Osama Siblani

The Arab American News

The founder and publisher of the oldest running bilingual Arab weekly in the nation is Osama Siblani.

He emigrated from Lebanon to Detroit in 1976, with $185 in his pocket, and worked at odd jobs, sometimes three at a time. He saved, went to the University of Detroit-Mercy, and became an engineer.

But he was bothered that the news media contained so little about Arabs and Arab Americans. So, he and M. Kay Siblani started a newspaper in 1984 for Michigan’s Arab community, the heaviest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation.

Publishing The Arab American News in both Arabic and English—two newspapers in one—meant bringing staff and typesetting equipment from the Middle East. And, there were other challenges: Siblani went into personal bankruptcy; animosity toward Arabs and Muslims led to vandalism of the newspaper’s offices; and his life was threatened. Through it all, he has kept publishing. The newspaper continues to increase both its print and digital circulation.

For the past 30 years, Siblani has launched the careers of Arab and non-Arab journalists, and works with publishers of other ethnic media to provide more accurate coverage of an increasingly diverse nation. It must be working. National media and government officials frequently turn to The Arab American News and to Siblani as windows into the Arab community with their sources and views that are unique to other media. His is nationally recognized as a leader in this arena.