Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Ghazi Al-Gosaibi…. Under God’s Protection | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Even in his passing he was a great, chosen by the Almighty to be by his side in the first ten days of Ramadan, a month full of divine grace. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi was taken to the mercy of God, as the tragic news spread amongst Saudis through their messages and news bulletins. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi was not an ordinary man, nor a traditional official or scholar like any other.

He took office initially as the Minister of Industry and Electricity, when he was in his thirties. It was during this golden era of Saudi development that his particular style, unique vision of management, his patriotism, and his acclaimed poetic and literary ability enabled him to establish his name in the field of Saudi public service, with distinction.

He left the Ministry of Electricity and Energy in order to hold an office in the Ministry of Health. There he oversaw developments, reforms and important expansions, and subsequently released a historical poem that all Saudis remember. After that he transferred to diplomatic work, serving as the Ambassador to Bahrain, and subsequently Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He fought a fierce battle defending the impact of 9/11 upon Islam and Saudi Arabia.

He then returned to ministerial work, moving between the Ministry of Water and the Ministry of Labour. In these two important ministries, he became absorbed in a difficult struggle to reform complex and influential issues, together with the success and efficiency of development plans. He also fought a fiercely contested battle when nominating himself for the presidency of UNESCO, a battle he lost with honor and integrity.

He documented all these incidents, with prestigious and eloquent literary style and composure, in addition to his important literary work. This includes ‘Shiqat Al-Hurryah’, and ‘Al-Asfooryah’, which received both popular and critical success. Of course, he continued to contribute poetry on important occasions, arousing a sense of patriotism in the ‘face’ of Saddam Hussein’s media machine during the invasion of Kuwait. Furthermore, Ghazi Al-Gosaibi wrote his masterpiece “We are the people of Hijaz, and the people of Najd”.

Ghazi Al-Gosaibi faced a systematic, intense, ideological campaign launched primarily by extremists, who labeled him as “a Westerner, infidel, secular and a hypocrite”. He confronted this malicious discourse armed with the pen and the word, and wrote in response with religious arguments to drown out the voices of those who opposed him.

Ghazi Al-Gosaibi was loved and respected by intellectuals, officials and citizens. Being an adviser, he was a truly noble and incorruptible figure who was free in his opinions and solid in defending what he believed. Secretly, he was a mentor to his seniors and a supporter to his juniors. Anyone who visited King Khaled Exhibition – inaugurated in the Saudi capital Riyadh – must have seen the letter which the young minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi had sent to King Khaled. In this letter, Ghazi addressed the king with the tone of a son who speaks to his father, advising him on a decision he had taken and telling him his own opinion of it. The old generation will ever remember Ghazi Al-Gosaibi as a young official, a brilliant writer, and a hardworking and bold minister. The new generation will ever remember him as one who always lent his ears to the youth, demonstrated wisdom and engaged in dialogues with them. He recommended patriotic discourse and rose above obnoxious racial bickering.

With his departure, Saudi Arabia has lost a balanced, responsible and civilised exterior, behind which was an intellectual heavyweight; a hardworking, brave, rational and wise person. He directly contributed to the development of his country in whatever position he held, whether it was an official post or a personal voluntary one. His tremendous loss can be felt by anyone who has lost a role model in their lives.

Ghazi Al-Gosaibi’s autobiography is a superior work that deserves pride, praise and appreciation, and is an example of a success story that both the people and country can be proud of. Contenting ourselves with only giving his name to a street or chamber would be insufficient. Rather, teaching his biography in the official school syllabuses as a cultural model of success in our contemporary age would be an adequate reward. Young people need a role model to imitate.

Personally speaking, I had a relationship full of respect and appreciation with the late Ghazi Al-Gosaibi. I did not communicate with him a lot, but enough to discuss talking points and topics with mutual respect and interest. He was such a unique man, and our last meeting was during the inauguration of King Abdullah University for Science and Technology where we exchanged a wonderful debate. He was indeed admirable, and in every position he took, he entered as a great man, and left even greater. God Almighty wanted him to depart our world as a great man as well, thus chose him in the first ten days of the holy month of Ramadan.

May God have mercy on Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, forgive him and grant him paradise. May God grant his family and countrymen with patience and fortitude, for the deceased has left his homeland and his sons. To God and to him we will return.