Making Connections

As her Middle Eastern-focused newspaper marks 10 years in print, Fatina Salaheddine talks about her view of the world.

Fatina Salaheddine was the marketing director for the National Arab American Business Association at age 19. By 21, she was guest-relations manager at the Cleveland Clinic, ensuring that VIP international patients and their guests were comfortable during their stays.

But just a year later, Salaheddine resigned from the high-profile post to found Al-Sahafa, a monthly Middle Eastern-focused newspaper that she publishes from an office on Lorain Avenue.

"I just kept thinking, I am young enough that if I fall flat on my face, I can call the Clinic and, hopefully, beg for my job back," she recalls.

Ten years later, Al-Sahafa is still going strong. We recently talked with Salaheddine about her publication, its approach and where she goes from here.

Q. What did you hope to achieve when founding the newspaper?

A. We're really trying to tell you the other side of the story, to look at the positives. ... That was the message of the newspaper from day one. There's so much good that's come out of the Middle East.

Q. Why do you encourage all Americans, not just Arab Americans, to read Al-Sahafa?

A. You may not agree with the Arab viewpoint, but if you want to call yourself an educated person who wants to know more about the Middle East, you have to know their point of view. ... It does excite me to bring that point of view.

Q. What do you think most Americans don't know about the Middle East?

A. The people are very giving and very generous. ... Strangers are welcomed into homes for a cup of tea. ... That's missing in the [national] media when talking about the Middle East. ... If we can change one reader's mind with just one article or one issue, that is more than I could ever hope for.

Q. You've appeared on Middle Eastern television. Is that something you'd like to do here?

A. I would like to translate the success that I've had and the credibility that I've earned to television. ... I've been applying to be a co-host of The View. They are badly in need of a Middle Eastern viewpoint.

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