A scholarship grant in Japan led him to the Marianas in 1972 and the rest is history.
Marianas Variety founder Abed E. Younis was born and raised in the Ara village in central Israel where his clan has been for centuries. From grade school in Ara, he moved to Haifa for high school and later to Jerusalem for higher studies. He was an alumnus of Bet Salel Academy of Arts and he also took some courses from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Abed speaks Arabic, Hebrew, and English. He learned English when Palestine was under British rule.
Fresh out of school, he immediately set up his own atelier until employment with National Television Station of Israel proved enticing. By 1970, he was offered a scholarship grant to travel to Japan and specialize further in graphics and animation.
In Japan, he visited universities and worked with educators in the field of graphics and animation. As he needed to adjust his status, from student to worker, he ended up on Guam. When his prospects to go back to Japan went dim, and at the same time, his U.S. visa was expiring, his option was to stay in the Marianas for a few days. When he went there, he never left.
For Abed, it was the warmth of the locals that convinced him to stay. Without a job, he said his newfound friends searched on island for jobs for him until it was clear to him that he should set up his own shop, the YSR Studio. He was then operating out of a small office in Susupe.
At the time there was an existing local newspaper called Marianas Star and operated by former Peace Corps volunteers Gene Peters and Mike Malone. It was circulating once a week and it wasn’t long until Malone and Peters threw in the towel. They sought for someone to take over and as fate would have it, the paper was inherited by Abed, who changed its name to Marianas Variety. It was a name he picked up while he was on Guam. He said there was a Guam Variety but it was not hardcore news; it was more of a cultural magazine.
When asked by this reporter in 2014 why he decided to venture into newspaper business, he said, “There was nothing to read.”
In prior interviews and conversations, he said he wanted Marianas Variety to feature all local news. His vision and his impeccable timing connived as Marianas Variety came at the most opportune time in Marianas history: the Covenant negotiations and the establishment of the commonwealth.
At its incipience, the Variety had Gene Peters at the helm of editorial while Abed took care of the rest.
From the business side, it was J.C. Tenorio Enterprises that gave him the break. It was Variety’s chief advertiser.
Soon, Gene had to move away, and Navy veteran Vic Pangelinan took his place and there were many others who came after him.
In the 1970s, Marianas Variety withstood competition from Dateline, owned by Pacific Daily News; Vic Pangelinan’s Gazette; and Oscar Rasa’s Free Press.
The Variety, which began its operations in Chalan Kanoa, moved to Oleai in 1974 until 1981 when Abed transferred the newspaper and studio businesses under one roof in Garapan. That is where Variety has been all these years.
In more than 40 years, competitors came and went, the Variety has documented the social, economic and political events that have shaped the commonwealth and its people.
It was Abed’s vision that the newspaper be first and foremost a local newspaper.
Now as the newspaper is close to marking its golden anniversary, Abed has made Variety a reading staple, not only in the Marianas, but elsewhere.
He has long been retired but his vision is never lost with his daughter, Laila Younis Boyer now at the helm. Boyer’s leadership assures that the Variety will continue to be an independent, locally owned paper.
In more than 40 years, the Variety has been an important resource for researchers, educators, students, politicians and policymakers in the Pacific.