Saad Silawi, the renowned media giant who pioneered Jordan’s media scene, passed away in Beirut on Saturday, September 1, 2018 leaving a legacy of love, passion and professionalism that is etched into the minds of others and touched the hearts of many.
BY YOUSEF G. BAARAH
For more than three decades, Silawi built an unassailed reputation throughout Jordan and beyond as a professional journalist, reporter, and influential media figure.
He graduated from the Journalism and Media Department of the Arab College in Amman in 1985. After he graduated, without a delay, he immediately began his remarkable career.
During the 80s and 90s, Silawi worked as an editor, correspondent, and reporter for several press institutions and media channels. He was also a columnist for a weekly critical article in the Sawt Al Sha’b Newspaper, where he covered various domains of politics, economy, and social life.
Significance of applying democracy, reservation of resources, gender equality, and freedom of opinion were among the topics he always tackled. Silawi also focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict stressing the importance of reaching a peaceful solution.
During this period of his life, he covered several political, economic conferences and numerous Arab Summits attended by kings, presidents, emirs, and heads of Arab countries. In recognition of his devotion and comprehensive journalistic coverage, he was awarded several letters of acknowledgement and appreciation.
In 1990, Silawi witnessed a major turning point in his career. He took up a job in the field of TV and worked as a producer with Britain-based Vis News Agency in the Middle East when Iraq occupied Kuwait in August 1990.
Furthermore, he acted as a military correspondent and stayed in Iraq during the entire period of war, “In Iraq, we paid a lot, in blood,” said Silawi. He also reported from Algeria in the early years of the civil war that began in 1991.
Later In 1991, he was involved in the launch of MBC, the first private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company in the Arab World. He was chosen to be its correspondent and director of its office in Jordan.
From the very beginning, he diligently worked for MBC and managed, within a short period of time, to realize success in preparing special distinguished reports on Jordan and other countries in the Middle East.
Silawi was entrusted to cover news in critical areas and interview significant leaders and influential figures, including the late King Hussein of Jordan, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, late Libyan leader Colonel Mu’ammar Al-Qaddafi, Prince Al-Hassan Bin Talal, former Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, Prime Ministers, ministers of foreign affairs, ministers of defense, and an array of Arab and international politicians, economists, and decision-makers.
In 2003, the administration of MBC chose him to be the regional director of MBC Group, where he was also promoted to be the senior correspondent of Al-Arabia Satellite TV Station, an affiliate of MBC Group. Since then, he had been occupying the position of the Regional Director of the MBC Group and the position of the Senior Correspondent of Al-Arabia Satellite TV Station.
He courageously asked brave questions and produced critical and valuable local and regional reports. He was known for his intelligent questions and personable interview style, which gave him access to some of the biggest officials worldwide, including former US presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
Other critical news coverage included the Palestinian territories and Lebanon during the war in 2006. “I was everywhere… a lot of places were very difficult and very dangerous,” Silawi said.
His adventurous career and regular on-screen appearances had to come to a temporary halt when Silawi was diagnosed with a throat cancer in 2012. He underwent a larynx removal procedure the following year. He spent a year in Canada recovering and later spoke using an artificial voice box device.
Silawi vowed to resume his work as a journalist in the field and asked viewers to judge him by his words on screen rather than his voice. “Please do not listen to the quality of my voice. I am not a singer; listen to my words,” he said.
Despite the dangers of his job and his health ordeal, Silawi stated that he could not imagine a change of career. He said that several people he has interviewed – including the late Yasser Arafat, and the late King Hussein of Jordan – had asked him to be their advisors. However, he respectfully refused, saying that journalism is in his blood.
“I was born a journalist, and I want to be a journalist,”Silawi said.
He is determined to not let his voice stand in his way. “I can go on screen and push my finger [against my neck] to speak,” he said. “I have the courage to do it,” Silawi added.
Al Arabiya’s Director General Turki Al Dakhil offered an eulogy for Silawi on Twitter: “You were a beloved person for all, and a brilliant journalist who fought the disease with a smile.” Many contemporary Journalists and media figures looked up to Silawi as a long-time inspiration and mentor.
HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH II PAID TRIBUTE TO SILAWI BY AWARDING HIM THE JORDANIAN MEDAL FOR DISTINGUISHED GIVING
He was also known for his humanitarian work, spearheading several fund-raising and charity events in his later years to help those in need in Jordan.
He never lost his smile or his signature sense of humor. Silawi was a true humanitarian. We have lost Saad, the friend that you look for when you need help, the colleague whose experience you learn from, and the beautiful human being who dedicated himself to others.
May his soul rest in peace. Our condolences to his son Sari, his wife Rawaby, and his daughters Rakeen and Rozana.