Al Arabiya journalist among ‘most influential’ in covering violent conflict

Ben Flanagan
Ben Flanagan - Al Arabiya News
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Al Arabiya anchor Rima Maktabi has been named among the world’s 100 most influential journalists covering armed violence in a ranking by a UK-based charity.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) this month commended Maktabi for her coverage of the 2006 Lebanon war and ongoing work in countries such as Syria and Egypt.

“What brought her to our attention was her coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006, as she was one of the first female Arabic TV journalists to cover conflicts in the region,” Jacob Parakilas, Senior Weapons Researcher at AOAV, told Al Arabiya News.

“Her continuing work on the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war has cemented her position as one of the rising stars of war correspondence,” he added.

Maktabi told Al Arabiya News she was “honored” to be named on the list.

"I am happy that Al Arabiya's news coverage has succeeded in raising international awareness to some dangerous and untold stories in the Middle East,” she said.

“I hope that all armed violence around the world ends; I wish safety to all journalists around the world as they are only messengers of truth. A big thank you to Al Arabiya for giving me the opportunity to report stories that I have great passion for.”

After earning international recognition during her coverage of the 2006 Israeli war against Hezbollah, Maktabi later joined CNN for two years, before returning to Al Arabiya in 2012. She was the first journalist to reach some areas in Syria where she presented a series of humanitarian reports, as well as reporting from the front line.

“Whenever I go to Syria, Egypt or any other hotspot, I go with one idea in mind: to tell the story as it happens,” Maktabi said.

Maktabi joins names such as CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen and The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk as among AOAV’s “most influential”.

“We believe that the journalists on this list are exceptional for a number of reasons. Their physical courage – going to war zone after war zone, relaying the ground truth despite the very real risks of injury, imprisonment, torture and death – is commendable on its own merits,” AOAV said on its website.

Such work carries significant risk, with an estimated 1005 journalists having been killed since 1992, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Of these, 593 were “murdered with impunity”, according to the CPJ.

Parakilas said one criteria for selection on the AOAV’s list was how a journalist’s work “draws attention to armed violence worldwide and contributes to its mitigation”.

The Middle East was a common factor for many of the journalists on the list, he added.

“A majority of those on our list had covered at least one conflict in the region, with the wars in Syria and Iraq and the Arab Spring being the most common. Middle East based newspapers, periodicals and television channels also had a significant presence,” said Parakilas.

“Despite our best efforts, the list reflected the fact that war correspondence is not yet as diverse an occupation as might be hoped. But the number of Middle Eastern reporters on the list is higher than it would have been just a few years ago, and if the contributions of talented and courageous individuals such as Rima Maktabi are any indication, the diversity of the profession will only grow with time.”

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