Ibrahim Nafei (1934 – 2018) The ultimate journalist

03-01-2018 12:22 AM

Fady Labib


Veteran journalist Ibrahim Nafie passed away yesterday, 1 January 2018, at the age of 84. Mr Nafie had long battled cancer; he died in hospital in the United Arab Emirates. His body was shipped to Cairo, and arrived this afternoon. His funeral will be held tomorrow, Wednesday 3 January.

From 1984 to 2005, Mr Nafie was chairman of the board of the State-owned Al-Ahram Establishment and editor-in-chief of the Cairo daily al-Ahram. Al-Ahram Establishment is Egypt’s largest news organization, and publisher of the Middle East’s oldest newspaper, al-Ahram, which has been in circulation since 1875.

Mr Nafie was famous for having pioneered, together with his friend and fellow journalist Saïd Sonbul (1929 – 2004), economics journalism in Egypt. They used to meet regularly and travelled abroad together several times to cover economics events.

Ibrahim Nafie was born in Suez on 12 January 1934. In 1956, he got a law degree from Ain Shams University. After graduation, he worked at Reuters new agency, then went on to become a radio editor. He joined the State-owned daily al-Gumhouriya newspaper, and later moved to al-Ahram where he became editor of the economy page.

In 1979, Mr Nafie became co-editor-in-chief of al-Ahram, then editor-in-chief in 1984. He conducted important interviews with a number of world presidents, ministers, and prominent figures. He also wrote substantial opinion pieces and political analyses of major national and international issues of politics and economics.

Mr Nafie authored a number of books, among them Winds of Democracy and Years of Risk.

Mr Nafie was a man who believed in the importance of research, science and knowledge. He founded three research centres: Al-Ahram Centre for History, Al-Ahram Regional Press Institute; and Al-Ahram Press Agency; also Al-Ahram Canadian University. The university was his latest achievement before he left al-Ahram in 2005.

His concerns were not restricted to al-Ahram only; he also served journalists in general. He was elected head of the Journalists’ Syndicate for several intermittent rounds from 1985 to 2001. During his tenure he gained a reputation for being a defender of freedom of expression, when he succeeded in having a harsh 1995 press law overturned 1996, in favour of securing immunity for journalists in order for them to write freely. He spearheaded the establishment of the syndicate’s new building so that it answers the demands of modern-day technology and the journalists’ increasing membership. He laid the foundation stone of the new building on 10 June 1997, which coincided the Press Day. It was opened in 2002.

Mr Nafei ended his life in the UAE while in Cairo he was implicated in what came to be known as the Al-Ahram gifts case in which he was accused, together with three other CEOs of Al-Ahram, of squandering public funds and offering hefty gifts to former president Hosni Mubarak and officials in his regime.

In a statement announcing the passing away of Mr Nafei, the Journalists’ Syndicate said it was a sad day for journalists, whom he had faithfully and diligently served; and that the charges against him were pointless now that he is no longer. His great achievements with Al-Ahram and the syndicate live on.

Watani International

2 January 2018

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