A symposium on printing was held in Egypt last month, which focused on ‘History of Printing in Saudi Arabia. The symposium was moderated by calligrapher Mohammed Rtael and was also marked by the presence of Dr. Ibrahim Darwish from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The event talked about the emergence of printing in Saudi Arabia, and the establishment of the first press, during the Ottoman Empire, in Astana in Kazakhestan. It is known to be the first modern press, which was established in year 958 AH/1551 AD.
The Ottoman Empire had also established Sanaa Press in Yemen, which is considered the first press to be established in the Arabian Peninsula during 1297 AH/1879 AD.
The first printing press in Saudi Arabia was established in Mecca during 1882 by Osman Nuri Pasha, a field marshal and minister in the Ottoman Empire. It was the second printing press to be founded in the Arabian Peninsula, the first being Sanaa press in Yemen.
The press which was called Al Hijaz produced books in Arabic, Turkish and Javanese languages and several journals. Later when the region came under the rule of Saudi Arabia, one of these journals Umm Al Qura became the official gazette of Saudi Arabia. During 1936 the press underwent a radical change and was revamped and modernized.