Rob L. Wagner is the Saudi Arabia correspondent for the London-based The Arab Weekly, a news analysis publication covering the MENA region. He also covers Islamic tourism for Thomson Reuters and Lonely Planet.
In 2004, he joined the Saudi Gazette in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after 30 years as a reporter and editor for suburban daily newspapers in California. He arrived in Jeddah as the newspaper’s national editor before becoming the managing editor. During his tenure as managing editor, the Saudi government loosened its press restrictions on the Saudi media and the paper enjoyed wide latitude in covering many issues. The newspaper focused its attention on women’s rights issues, unemployment, terrorism and the massive changes occurring in Saudi society.
The Gazette also extensively covered the terrorist attacks inside Saudi Arabia, including the 2003-2004 bombings at Al-Khobar, Riyadh and Yanbu. Wagner was the only western journalist at the scene of the bombing attack of the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah in December 2004.
During Wagner’s three years at the newspaper, he taught basic journalism courses to Saudi and expatriate women seeking careers in the news media. The Arabic Okaz Organization for Press and Publication awarded Wagner its Employee of the Year award in 2004 for his work.
In 2008, he became editor of Construction Week magazine, the sister publication of Arabian Business magazine, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The magazine covers the construction boom in the UAE with special emphasis on labor rights of expatriate workers.
Wagner was the urban affairs reporter for the now-defunct Hollywood Daily Independent early in his career. He also covered for UPI the 1980 presidential primaries in Los Angeles before joining the Daily Independent, in Corona, Calif., a Riverside County agricultural community quickly becoming a suburb of Orange County. In 1982, he wrote with another reporter a series of articles on the plight of undocumented citrus workers that won the Best Series award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
Following the Corona Daily Independent, he worked as a police and legal affairs reporter for the Ontario (Calif.) Daily Report (now the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin) and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. His articles for the Tribune on how the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office plea bargained criminal cases won the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. During this period Wagner also wrote a series of articles profiling California judges for the Los Angeles Daily Journal. The Society of Professional Journalists awarded him top prizes for his reporting for the Bulletin on the combative relationships between judges at the San Bernardino County Superior Court. He also wrote crime stories for True Detective magazine.
Wagner became the managing editor of the Daily Bulletin in 1996, but he continued to write. He authored more than 20 books on automotive, journalism, architecture and California histories. His books include Hollywood Bohemia: The Roots of Progressive Politics in Rob Wagner’s Script (Janaway, 2016), Red Ink, White Lies: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles Newspapers, 1920-1962 (Dragonflyer Press, 2000), Witness to a Century (Dragonflyer Press, 1999) and Sleeping Giant: An Illustrated History of the Inland Empire (Stephens Press LLC, 2003). In 2009, he was a contributing author for Opposing Viewpoints: Islam, Vol. 2 (Greenhaven Press, Gale Cengage Learning, 2009), an academic textbook. He served as a moderator and panelist on numerous expatriate labor workshops and conferences in the United Arab Emirates and discussed Arab journalism on Saudi Arabian radio.
Wagner began working independently in 2009 to cover the Middle East and Islamic issues. His work appears in many Middle East news and analysis websites including the London-based International Business Times, The Media Line, the Costa Rica-based Peace and Conflict Monitor, Eurasia Review and International Policy Digest. The Arab News, Kuwait Times, Gulf News, Gulf Times, Daily News Egypt, Yemen Times, Al Arabiya and other Middle East news outlets have publish his stories. Before turning full time to independent reporting, he served a stint as managing editor of the Jeddah-based Arab News.
This website is an archive of his published articles and photos.