The man was always available, and it was one of his endearing qualities that he never stood on titles and ceremonies.
The nation lost Ibrahim Al Abed today. For the UAE media, over the years, he was a Colossus. A guide, a friend, a mentor, a man so beloved by the media and an intrinsic member of it. An author and a man widely respected, who literally had his hand on the tiller in the development of media through the years. He saw it into maturity right across the board. So deeply trusted for his professionalism and his gentle steering of the media to get closer to the water but not get your feet wet, his advice was truly golden. In those early days of print journalism, when there was still an element of trial and error and we were learning the ropes as we went along, any major doubt was met in the newsrooms by a simple clarion call: Check with Mr Al Abed.
The man was always available, and it was one of his endearing qualities that he never stood on titles and ceremonies. That easy access was so helpful. I recall vividly that even when we erred, the visit to his offices was not one that filled you with dread but more a learning experience. He would tell you why you were wrong and simply tell you to work it out for yourself. Being a journalist himself, he was sensitive to our needs and our problems. As the head of the National Media Council, he can take credit for the evolution of media per se and was also responsible for the dispensation of news as the founder, and until 2017, the director general of the Emirates News Agency (WAM). Established in 1977, the multi-lingual news agency acts which is the official source of UAE news globally.
It is a huge void that he leaves behind, and as media becomes more complex that pioneering spirit which marked 42 years of service to his country and its image cannot be replicated. Al Abed wrote a book on the media’s journey from the seventies and much of what it is today can be directly credited to his stewardship.
Al Abed graduated from the American University of Beirut with a major in Political Science and General Management. He won several awards, including the Media Personality of the Year Award in the 13th Arab Journalism Award in 2014 and the Taryam Omran Journalism Award in 2007.
You will be missed, sir, for you were one man whom we all loved and knew we could rely upon. When the chips were down and any of us in trouble or having lost our way, many a scribe has knocked on your door and asked for signage. And you gave it.
Yes, the pen has been capped but the inkwell stays fluid. Your friendly attitude, that cherubic smile, your lessons, your probity, your honesty of intent will always be with us. On a personal note, you once mentioned to me when I joined KT in 1990 that if I always remembered the fact that English media is run by people from foreign lands and to be mindful of how great that honour is and let it be your guiding light, you will not go wrong. It was a sterling point. Go with God, sir, and thank you for being you.
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