Al Arabiya reporters face tear gas, rubber bullets during ‘Yellow Vests’ riots

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Rubber bullets and pungent tear gas did not stop Al Arabiya reporter’s determination to obtain exclusive coverage during the “Yellow Vests” protests and riots that took place on Saturday.

Al Arabiya’s Paris correspondents, Hussein Kneiber and Saad al-Massoudi, have spent the past four weeks dodging rubber bullets and tear gas canisters in the ongoing anti-government protests which have swept across France.

“I have been restraining myself from using exaggerated terminology and referring to the coverage as a war zone, but I eventually realized the similarities,” said Al Arabiya’s Paris Bureau Chief Hussein Kneiber.

Al Arabiya was the only Pan-Arab broadcaster to share footage from the core of the protests in Paris.

Whether it meant sneaking behind the police as they dispersed the rioters from the Arc de Triomphe, or blending in with the protestors, the reporters sought to capture the most important moments, clips of which eventually went viral on social media.

Al Arabiya Paris Bureau Chief Hussein Kneiber reports during Dec. 8 protests:

Kneiber and his photographer Ammar’s extraordinary coverage would eventually go viral on social media. This achievement was a result of a lengthy 15-hour shift in which the duo made their way daily among the “Yellow Vests” protesters.

The reporters knew that this was the only way to capture the most important moments from the French city’s crucial flash points.

“I had to scream “Journalist” to stop the police officers from aggressively handling us, we were determined to get the best footage,” Kneiber said.

Protests or a war zone?

The reporters delved vigorously into the havoc of the Parisian streets, despite the risks “we were surrounded by burning cars and we watched numbers of injured people fall around us”.

For Kneiber, the hostile scenes triggered flashbacks of the Beirut civil war. “The only difference is the use of gas bombs instead of explosives,” he recounted.

Al Arabiya previously delivered memorable coverage from France including the 2005 French riots, and the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's hospital admission in Paris.

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