If anyone were in any doubt about the truth of the opening line of L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel “The Go-Between” — “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” — they need only take a trip down the memory lane that is the Arab News archive.

Launched on Sunday April 20, 1975, as Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper, for the past 45 years Arab News has been the nation’s go-to paper of record, covering regional and global events for the benefit of nationals and expats alike.

At the same time, however, it has built an invaluable archive of contemporary coverage of events that serves as a first draft of history for future generations — and a reminder that the past is indeed a foreign country. Perhaps nothing illustrates the gulf between then and now so much as the adverts to be found in the earliest issues of the newspaper, many of which reflect social history in the making.

For a reminder of just how boxy most cars used to be, look no further than page 5 of the issue of Dec. 5, 1979, where none other than former world champion boxer Muhammad Ali, still two years away from an overdue retirement, promotes the virtues of “seven world champions” from Toyota on behalf of Saudi car company Abdul Latif Jameel. “When it comes to boxing, I am the champ!” Ali declares, with his left fist raised. “But when it comes to cars and trucks, nobody can beat Toyota!”

Read the full article in its original location here.