ALUMNUS AND TESTIMONIALS
When I first joined Arab News, my mentor and guide was the late Mr. Youssef. He was a strong force of calm and intelligence, alongside his lovely wife Ms. Dima.
His silent but strong demeanor was powerful. A successful mentor always pushes his apprentices towards excellence with motivation and encouragement, and there was never a lack of that with him. He believed in journalism and the power of the word, sharing his expertise and knowledge with junior journalists to achieve greatness.
One of the things that surprised me the most was when I found out that he was diagnosed with dyslexia late in his career. However, that did not stop him from writing or even publishing a book. He was a true inspiration for following your dreams and never giving up no matter the obstacles.
In the fast-paced life of media (especially for a conflict and war reporter) it is rare to find someone kind, patient and friendly, but he was all that and more.
Consultant at Ministry of Media
In my personal experience with Mr. Youssef, his name was always connected to his mission to improve journalism in Saudi Arabia and put it on the same level as global journalism in terms of courage and integrity. He never had personal gains or opinions that stood between him and his goal.
I worked with him for three years at Al-Watan newspaper and I can remember his (contribution to) making Al-Watan one of the best Saudi newspapers at that time.”
May God have mercy on Abu Kareem
I met him for the first time in 2008 in Abha in southern Saudi Arabia, when he came as a journalism career coach at Al-Watan newspaper.
I was studying at the medical school and working as a collaborating journalist, and I was nominated to attend his courses “as he was the professor who could shorten the way for you.”
The second day of the course, I proposed to give him a ride back to his hotel. Since that day we became friends. He was the master and I was the student. For long years, I shared housing, cooking, and long walks with him in Abha then in Jeddah. During this period and afterwards, Youssef taught me a lot, more than what I have learned from anyone else. Youssef teaches you to trust in your capabilities, to be committed and learn without stop, and to bypass the expectations of those you work with.
Youssef was a way and a style, generous beyond pretentiousness, good, genuine, noble, and gentle. He was an instructor and a master. His knowledge was for others.
With Youssef’s spirit, I got to leadership positions as a managing director of Saudi newspapers before I reached 25 years old.
Four years ago, I founded a company that provides journalistic services, where 35 employees work. In this company you can find Youssef’s spirit.
The role model
The presence of a role model is the compass that guides any junior journalist. Without it, they might repeat the same mistake in the media industry. The human hierarchy when it comes to transferring knowledge from one generation to another is the foundation upon which the progress of nations is built. This is what the Lebanese journalism professor, Youssef Khazem, did.
The first meeting
On the morning of April 25, 2011, I received a call from Mr. Youssef Khazem. He asked me, due to my content creation activities on YouTube at the time, if I would like to join the team of the Saudi Al-Watan Newspaper. I immediately agreed and saw it as a golden opportunity. So, he asked to meet with me at the newspaper’s office in Jeddah. When I arrived, he welcomed me with his fatherly smile and encouraging words, which expressed his support for my content creation-related hobbies. At the time, my community and the people around me considered content creation as a waste of time and a field that did not generate any income.
Mr. Youssef Khazem was the first to support me in the media field, while also fostering my journalistic talent.
What did I learn from Youssef Khazem?
A professional first-place runner passes his banner to a novice runner in a relay race, while he fears that the rookie might lose the race due to his limited capabilities. This is how Youssef Khazem was keen to develop my skills, as he saw me as the person carrying his banner in the journalistic life.
At the time, it was difficult for me to understand what he had gone through on the journalistic scene. This got me intrigued and I wanted to know him better, while he was even more keen to teach me everything he knew and more. It was as if he was building a strong foundation for the rest of my life in the media field.
Mr. Youssef Khazem taught me the basics of journalism and what the journalist’s life looks like. He told me that journalism is the profession of searching for trouble and that it is not just a profession, but a way of life from which one cannot retire.
I learned the ethics, arts and honor of journalism from him. He also told me that revealing the truth is more important than personal gains and taught me how to start and develop my career in the media field.
My professional life after Youssef Khazem
I did not work with Youssef Khazem for a long time. This is due to the fact that he developed my journalistic skills to the point where they caught the attention of MBC Group, which wanted me to produce the most prominent Saudi talk show in the channel’s history, “Eight O’clock” with Daoud Al-Sharyan.
The largest television channel in the Arab world is not ready to risk its most prominent show, “Eight O’clock”, by getting a junior journalist, who did not have sufficient journalistic skills. However, its brought in the young student of Youssef Khazem.
After “Eight O’clock”, I established Al-Arab News Channel. I then launched my company under the name of HABKA Productions and established its digital journalism training department. The secret has always been the courses of Youssef Khazem.
Youssef did not die
Youssef Khazem has left behind people who are similar to him and share the same message in life: a professional media content and the training of the new generations. This is exactly what I am doing today.
During my next visit to the tomb of my teacher Youssef Khazem, I wish to lay my media works and achievements on it, as these are the roses he prefers.
In support of the step taken by Arab News to rename its training department after Mr. Youssef Khazem, I am happy to offer, through HABKA, a free video editing course, using the Adobe Premiere program, to all the trainees of the Youssef Khazem unit and the newspaper’s employees. It consists of a digital course, which is recorded and published on the international Udemy website. This initiative aims at keeping Youssef Khazem’s training efforts alive after his death.
If the newspaper’s administration accepts this offers, I would be pleased if you would contact me to organize the process of registering trainees through my mobile number: 0502593488.
Kind words don't bring'em back, it just eases the loss…
Being a remarkable person by some people's standards requires doing unusual things, heroic things, memorable things, but that’s only the stuff of stories and fairy tales.
The truly remarkable people are the steady ones you can count on, those who are calm during tough times, the ones who are there when you need them.
Youssef was one of those rare breeds of mankind…
Competent to the level of mastery and human through and through. A Journalist true to his profession who never settled for anything less than perfection.
I met Youssef back in 2011 when he was undergoing the restructure of AL-Watan, one of the youngest newspapers in the Saudi media scene, which although its enthusiastic readership base wanted to expand to the digital sphere. Al-Watan's management at the time was lucky to find an Arabic-speaking professional who understood the local tone, and yet was privy to the latest western trends in digital media.
A lot of people can "do" a job, but not all task completers can teach newbies how to do it well. Youssef took 12 rookies with no prior experience in the media world and vowed to transfer their lives to the English countryside.
After several tests and drills, Youssef put us through a crash course in Journalistic English which we completed during the long nights of Ramadan. And as soon as Eid came we were off to the UK with small bags and giant expectations.
Four months of 10-hour days enduring lecture after lecture and workshop after workshop gave us the true taste of running a digital platform under pressure. The number of editors, writers, photographers, designers, and proofreaders that we met was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And during all that time you would find Youssef in a corner silently taking notes and planning for the next phase of our training.
We all had bosses in our lives, yet the most endearing trait anybody who was lucky to have Youssef as his boss was his sincere compassion and gentle empathy. You would never hesitate to take a personal issue or a professional matter to him directly because you would be sure that he would solve it with the ease and comfort of sipping a cup of Lebanese coffee which he odored. With calm words and a soft demeanor, he would solve the unsolvable while ensuring you that everything is going to be fine.
Not prone to bragging or boasting, but the experiences Youssef had in his lifetime could be distributed upon a battalion of freshly minted journalists and then some… From the hotspots in the horn of Africa to the bloody streets of civil war Beirut Yussef has seen it all. Invasions, famine, war, and destruction to see all that and retain optimism is all that AbuKareem was about.
God rest your soul in perpetual happiness, you sure had an adventurous ride...
Former Opinion Editor
Youssef Khazem was someone you wanted to impress. I first met him at Al Arabiya English, when he came to give us training. At the time, I served as Opinion and Features Editor, and when the training ended, he would later become one my top Feature and News Analysis writers.
In his presence, I felt inspired, intellectually stimulated and wanted to always squeeze his brain with in-depth discussion on the state of our region. I remember him breaking down the Nile dam crisis to me, and the way he explained it was so effortless, I immediately asked for a piece. His writing was smooth; easy reads that you actually learnt from. Rest in peace dear Youssef, a kind and gentle giant who I will never forget. Thank you for the knowledge you passed on to us all.
Journalist at French Orient XXI
Owner of the “Hake Servisset” blog
Journalist at French Orient XXI and owner of the “Hake Servisset” blog
Before training some colleagues on professionalism at the invitation of the Lebanese As-Safir Newspaper where he worked in the beginning, Youssef Khazem was an expert we turned to while wanting to understand any African matter; he was the only reference in the Arab Press for the African continent’s affairs.
Tall with a slight curvature as if he wanted to get close to the person talking to him without raising his voice, or as if occupied with his tall stature more space than one person is permitted. He was humble like experts and talented people and friendly, never forgetting that he trains colleagues within the same profession; he treated them on a basis of equality and respect, no matter their age. If we got to the bottom of a matter during training, his eyes radiated, and if we made a mistake? He joked to comfort us, claiming he once made a mistake like us, then called on us to think about wording and its implications and responsibility in writing the news, especially in devising questions and work ethics.
Alwasat Media Group
During my first job interview at the Libyan Al-Wasat institution, I met Mr. Youssef Khazem – may God have mercy on his soul – and then I realized that I will be joining a professional institution characterized by its professionalism, due to Khazem’s good reputation.
I have been working in the field of journalism and media in general since 2010. I do not think that I have ever met a person that was nicer, nobler and finer than Youssef Khazem, who treated everyone as if he was their older brother.
During the daily meetings, which he used to hold with us during the period of establishment of Al-Wasat, he was cheerful and spoke with a low voice. Despite his keenness to complete the work perfectly, he never reprimanded anyone, no matter the severity of their mistake.
Our relationship was not limited to work. He always made sure to gather the team at his house in Cairo, where his beautiful wife Dima Khazem, who was also our trainer, used to prepare delicious Lebanese meals in order to introduce us to the Lebanese heritage and authentic cuisine.
In addition, he took the team on tours to break the monotony and routine of work, saying that he wanted to learn more about Cairo’s landmarks and atmosphere.
Although he was busy and was not in Cairo with us recently, we did not lose contact with him over the past years, as he used to always contact us and check in on all of us on different occasions.
We did not just lose our trainer, teacher and mentor, as we also lost a brother that cared for our future and supported our ambitions and dreams.
Alwasat Media Group
When I met Mr. Youssef Khazem for the first time in Cairo, where I was taking part in a media experience organized by the Libyan Al-Wasat at the end of 2013, I found him to be professional person in every sense of the word. He was a serious person that assessed people and things based on facts, away from any personal whims. He was also a very flexible and understanding person, which helped all those who worked with him give their best in an atmosphere that mixed between seriousness and friendliness. As days passed, I started to discover the personality of “Youssef” the person, not just the journalist or executive. For many years, he was a friend, brother and mentor to me and all of my colleagues during that experience.. Of course, we will miss the late Youssef Khazem. However, he will always be present through his sense of humanity, positions and everything he taught us.
I did not know the late colleague and teacher Youssef Khazem very well. However, I used to hear about his courteousness, professionalism and moralism, along with his abundant information and long experience with everything related to the African continent, its wars, conflicts, tribes and races… particularly the Horn of Africa. This was the case before I met him in the office of the Editor-in-Chief Antoine Abdel Massih at Al-Hayat Newspaper in Beirut.
At the time, I knew a lot about a person that was an honest friend of all my colleagues at Al-Hayat Newspaper, As-Safir Newspaper and BBC. A friend who listened to their concerns and followed up on their professional development. However, nobody told me about his tall stature and his calm and thoughtful smile, which is filled with fatherly warmth, respect and sophistication. These are characteristics that we, women, rarely find in Beirut, where the media scene is filled with opportunists and patriarchal people that either underestimate the capabilities of women or try to exploit them!
Back then, I was surprised by this tall stature, as I was short. For a second there, I felt the strong presence of this educated man, who was rich in information and connections. However, I soon discovered that this tall body was hiding a humorous spirit and a highly-respectable and modest journalist, who never hid his exceptional personality.
I met him again, as a trainer, at As-Safir Newspaper’s offices in Beirut. I cannot forget something he told us as a group of young journalists excited to change the world through our articles, advocate for the poor and expose corruption. He called on us to search for positivity, for a light that is shining here or there, and write about it, away from the prevailing atmosphere of pessimism, beating and useless screaming. At the time, Beirut was in ruins after the 2006 war and the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, while the pages of the newspapers were filled with negativity and talks about the city’s death.
He taught us how to look beyond the news, be aware of backgrounds and seek new horizons in order to cover news using a simple language away from the complexity and negativity that accompanied the Lebanese and Syrian journalism for many years, especially in the sixties and seventies, where the journalist was and emperor, philosopher and scientist that used to write in a wooden of elitist language, not a populist language.
His traits used to remind me of my father, who we used to call “the dictionary” at home, as he used to read a lot and gather huge amounts of information and knowledge. In addition, he never held back when it came to sharing this knowledge with a student, trainee or even a colleague. So, he used to give, help and provide advice. Most importantly, the practical training hours used to go by smoothly, as Youssef Khazem had the ability to convey his long-term experience and advice in a friendly and kind manner. He also had the ability to respectfully give remarks, whether to colleagues or trainees, without making them feel like they are inferior, as editors in chief and page admins usually do.
He used to deal with the trainees as if they were seasoned journalists and experts in the field and did not designate himself as a commentator. However, he used to recommend honesty, impartiality and credibility when conveying information. These were the headlines that accompanied the name of Youssef Khazen in his life, career, friendships and relationships.
Investigative Journalist and TV Presenter
The words always elude me when we are to describe Youssef Khazem.
I debuted with Youssef Khazem in the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan back in 2011, where I lived my best experiences in journalistic writing and modern media. The legendary Youssef Khazem was able, in a period as short as 6 months, to transform people with no knowledge about media into professional journalists through an intensive training of different genres of journalistic training. That was nothing short of miraculous.
He was indulgent with our first mistakes, but if the same mistake is repeated he would get very angry and say that a small mistake, whether in spelling or meaning, may transform the news to something else which could cause a problem. This is what drove me to be careful about not committing any mistake and forced me to review my article more than once.
Among the most important advices I remember my teacher, Youssef Khazem, giving me were:
A good journalist is the one who listens well and does not interrupt
A professional journalist is one who has good relations with everyone
A good journalist is a curious journalist
What distinguishes you from others is speed with which you publish the news
The different news is not the dog biting the man, but the man biting the dog.
I still resort to the many other advices he gave me as I have never forgotten them because Youssef is the one who engraved them in my memory with his unique style.
In fact, I consider myself lucky and I will always be proud to be a student at the great school of Youssef Khazem, who helped shape my media personality. He influenced me deeply and now I find myself treating the new media people the same way he treated me.
I used to liaise with him via WhatsApp during the days of his illness, and the last dialogue was 3 weeks before his death where he told me that his health condition was improving but he was shielding us from his pain and giving us reassurances for us not to worry.
Nothing I say will ever do you justice, Youssef Khazem, my father, my teacher, and my friend. I will never forget you. May God have mercy on your soul and lead you to heaven. Goodbye my beloved teacher.
YOMN FAROUK LUQMAN
Al Watan Newspaper
During my long journey in journalism when I first started working for Al-Watan newspaper in May 2010, my father, the journalist Farooq Luqman, my mentor in both private and professional life, was not with me at the time, but fortunately, I found Youssef Khazem, may God have mercy on his soul, present in the country.
When I first met him, he was kind and gentle, and after that I had the honor to be tutored by him. He was a true professional who loved his work. His guidance was very beneficial to me and I was always keen to meet him in order to profit from his extensive knowledge and his professional experience.
He was passionate about the profession, always looking for something new, inventing ideas and helping us to progress and develop at work. To me and my colleagues back home, he was the perfect trainer, manager, brother and father.
Everyone loved him for he was a good man of noble manners, and he never returned from any of his travels without gifts, such and chocolate and nuts, that made us all happy. We never left his office without experiencing his generosity. Those were the beautiful memories we all lived with a good man and a virtuous educator. May God have mercy on his soul and may heaven be his final destination.
Journalist & Visual Artist at Arab News
Its a wonder to teach well, but its another thing to inspire. Thats what Sir Khazem did. He was a mentor, always willing and eager to teach, his expertise ranged over a wide variety of subjects, his knowledge deep and sound. His words of wisdom and encouragement gave me the resolve to be better with each passing day. He taught us that learning never ends and one should strive to be better than the day before, everyday. He was a mentor par excellence, a kind man who will be truly missed.
Senior Business Editor
I first met Youssef at Alwatan newspaper where he was leading the development project and its face-lift.
People were very worried about his presence and they thought he were their to fire them. He was trying to guide and teach them how to grow. He was looking for talented people to grow.
It was a tough job, dealing with old guards and finding his way through. But he managed.
When he joined Arab News, he approached me to contribute to its relaunch. I met with him and I listened to the plans. Honestly, I wasn't sure this project will succeed but seeing the results today of what was done, I can say mission is accomplished and the dream became true. The Arab News he helped in building is continuing to grow after his time. It's part of his legacy.