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.