Former Arab News journalist loses life to COVID-19 in India

Former Arab News staffer Javed Jivani died on Wednesday in Mumbai as a result of COVID-19. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 June 2020

Former Arab News journalist loses life to COVID-19 in India

  • Jivani left Arab News in 1988 after eight years during which he won many admirers thanks to his excellent headlines
  • He was described as “a jovial and affable person and a wonderful colleague”

JEDDAH: Former Arab News staffer Javed Jivani died on Wednesday in Mumbai as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He was 84 and the last member of his family.
Known to colleagues simply as J.J., he joined Arab News in 1980. Initially he worked on the business desk, where it soon became clear he had an amazing knack for writing punchy and clever headlines. In recognition of this, the newspaper’s Editor in Chief, Khaled Almaeena, promoted him to front-page editor, a position in which he excelled.
“The bespectacled man never failed to amaze us with his choice of words,” Almaeena wrote about Jivani in the newspaper’s 20th anniversary edition, published in 1995. “Very thin, he weighed not more than 40 kg.”
After hearing that Jivani had died, Almaeena posted a tribute on Twitter that described him as: “A witty man with a twinkle in his eyes, and an editor who could compete with the best headline writers in the industry.”
K.S. Ramkumar, a former Arab News employee now based in Mumbai, said Jivani was “a jovial and affable person and a wonderful colleague.”
He added: “He was full of life, always smiling, cracking jokes and delivering sharp one-liners.”

Ramkumar, who worked at Arab News from 1982 until 2012, said Jivani had fallen down three days ago. A day later he developed a fever and tested positive for the coronavirus. He died on Wednesday morning in hospital in Mumbai.
Jivani left Arab News in 1993 after 13 eventful years during which he won many admirers thanks to his excellent headlines. Former colleagues said he was often lost in thought and would pace the floor of the office while searching for inspiration for the perfect headline. His eyes would light up when he thought of a good turn of phrase or clever wordplay.
He had a tremendous nose for news, they said. As soon as he saw the copy he knew immediately what the story was about and how best to craft and edit it.
Before joining Arab News, one of half a dozen Indian journalists hired by the late Editor in Chief Farouk Luqman, Jivani worked as a sub-editor for The Times of India. After leaving Arab News, he returned to Mumbai and wrote scripts for Bollywood. He never married.
“In the absence of any family, he led a lonely life,” added Ramkumar.


‘What’s a UN journalist?’: New film on Syrian refugees sparks ire for lack of Arab casting

Updated 26 September 2020

‘What’s a UN journalist?’: New film on Syrian refugees sparks ire for lack of Arab casting

  • ‘The Newsroom’ actress Olivia Munn selected to star in drama ‘Aleppo’
  • Many online users are concerned that the film will center on a Western journalist, while the Syrian refugee will simply be seen as an extra

DUBAI/LONDON: “What is a UN journalist?” asked the Twitterverse on Friday after the announcement came that actress Olivia Munn would be playing a UN reporter alongside a Syrian refugee in the feature film titled “Aleppo.”

It’s been announced that US actress Olivia Munn is set to play the lead in the feature drama, a story about a Syrian refugee and UN journalist (Munn), who are brought together by their escape from war-afflicted Syria. 

Many online users are concerned that the film will center on a Western journalist, while the Syrian refugee will simply be seen as an extra - given that the job of a UN journalist simply does not exist and will ironically be played by an actress known for her role as a journalist in Aaron Sorkin’s hit show “The Newsroom.”

“Jesus Christ. Firstly, there’s no such thing as a ‘UN journalist’; secondly there was no UN in those last terrifying months of Aleppo, and the only journalists around were Syrians,” Human Rights Watch researcher Sophie McNeill tweeted.

“How any film about Aleppo can centre anyone but brave Syrians is insane. Who writes this s***?”

Nada Homsi, a Beirut-based Syrian reporter and producer for NPR tweeted: “Hello Hollywood I’m Syrian and a journalist and would love to become a movie star, so would many other Syrians, also ‘UN journalists’ aren’t a thing. Hire us!”

Others weren't pleased with Munn’s casting, and have taken to social media to express their discontent.

“The onslaught on Aleppo was one of the most traumatic events for Syrians in Syria and for the diaspora,” wrote one user on Twitter following the news. “Spinning the tragedy to center it around some hypothetical journalist for a Westerner to star in is disgusting,” they added.

Another user wrote: “Oh yay a ‘Syrian refugee drama’ that is actually about a white lady. Just what we need, another white savior movie.”

“Just call it ‘The White Savior,’ why muck about?” added another.

“Aleppo,” which is currently in pre-production in Los Angeles, will be directed by Brazilian filmmaker David Schurman.

The casting of the Syrian starring character has yet to be announced.

Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, many films and documentaries have been made about the tragedy, including “For Sama,” Waad Al-Kateab’s critically-acclaimed documentary.