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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Veteran Arab journalist Saad Al Silawi dies at 55

The respected Jordanian was renowned for his intelligence and personable interview style

Veteran Jordanian journalist Saad Al Silawi passed away on Saturday 1 September 2018. Twitter account Saad Al Silawi
Veteran Jordanian journalist Saad Al Silawi passed away on Saturday 1 September 2018. Twitter account Saad Al Silawi

Saad Al Silawi, a prominent Jordanian journalist who helped launch several Arab news outlets during his 30-year career, has succumbed after a six-year battle with cancer. He was 55.

Mr Al Silawi died Saturday morning at the Movenpick hotel in Beirut after a pulmonary failure that resulted in cardiac arrest.

In 1991 he was involved in the launch of MBC, the first private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company in the Arab World. There he interviewed prominent Middle East leaders, including former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, former Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat and the late King Hussein of Jordan.

He then joined MBC's sister channel Al Arabiya on its formation in 2003, and served later as its Jordan bureau chief.

Al Arabiya's director general Turki Al Dakhil offered a eulogy for Mr Al Silawi on Twitter: “You were a beloved person for all, and a brilliant journalist who fought the disease with a smile.”

Mr Al Silawi was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2012 and underwent a larynx removal procedure the following year. He spent a year in Canada recovering and later spoke using an artificial voice box device.

In an interview a year after he was diagnosed, Mr Al Silawi told the camera “we will all die at some point”.

His colleagues also took to Twitter to share memories of the prolific journalist. Sarah Dundarawy, a television presenter at Al Arabiya, describe Mr Al Silawi as “an enthusiastic journalist in his profession, a kind friend to all, and a fun spirit.”

His work took him around the world in pursuit of the most pressing Arab news. In the 1990s, he covered the civil war in Algeria. He reported from Iraq over three decades including during both Gulf wars. He covered Lebanon during the 2006 war.

“I was everywhere… a lot of places were very very difficult and very very dangerous,” Silawi told Al Arabiya in 2014.

He was known for his intelligent questions and personable interview style, which gave him access to some of the biggest officials worldwide, including former US presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush.

He was also known for his humanitarian work, spearheading several fund-raising and charity events in his later years to help those in need in Jordan.

In 2014, His Majesty King Abdullah II paid tribute to Mr Al Silawi by awarding him the Jordanian Medal for Distinguished Giving.

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