I write this article after months of forced absence. I have yet to return home and am still in the process of recovery. So should I wait for longer or write? In truth, the journalist in me triumphed in the end, and since I have spent a considerable period of time in this enforced absence, I felt it was my duty to write to thank all the friends and colleagues who have showered me with an abundance of love and affection during this period, gestures which without doubt have had a positive effect on my mental health.
The truth is that I was just as shocked as my colleagues by the health crisis which I experienced, which one of the doctors treating me compared to a train suddenly hitting a man at full speed; for it came without any introduction, so to speak, or previous signs. Everything happened extremely quickly during one evening just after a daily editorial meeting, and I was completely unaware of everything that happened after that due to being under the effects of the heavy medications used following surgical procedures.
At this point I need to express my gratitude to all the people who were concerned for me and enquired as to my health; in all honesty I really wouldn’t know where to begin here. I can identify three distinct stages during my career in journalism: the Cairo, UAE, and UK periods. I have made lifelong friends during each of those stations, and I feel an immense deal of gratitude towards all of them. I also feel I must express immense gratitude to Prince Faisal Bin Salman, the Head of the Board of Trustees of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group and Governor of Medina, who visited me during my stay in hospital along with Asharq Al-Awsat’s Editor-in-Chief Salman Aldosary, who months ago wrote an opinion piece expressing feelings of such love and appreciation that I was touched immensely, and who visited me every week without fail during my stay in hospital.
I must also thank all my colleagues at Asharq Al-Awsat’s London office, as well as those in Saudi Arabia and at the paper’s bureaus around the world. Their visits and messages of support had a profoundly positive effect on my morale. I must also thank all the friends I have made from around the world. A lifelong friend of mine in Cairo likened all these people to “life savings”: like an amount accumulated over years and which you can turn to during a time of need for help and support. So I wish to say thank you to my friends in Cairo and my colleagues in London.
Turning from the personal to the general, I can say that suddenly following the news again after a long time away fills me with sadness. Things in the Arab world have gone from bad to worse during this time and it almost seems that the different crises in the region are now competing with one other. At the top of the list is Syria, but it is now being challenged by the situation in Yemen involving the Houthi movement. The situation in the region has gotten so bad that what counted as a front page story weeks ago can now be relegated to the inside pages.
The only positive development during this entire period is that some of the major powers in the region have now taken strong positions which impose their interests on other major powers, ones who seek to meddle in the region.