Credits: All from AP - from left: Martin Mejia (Lima 2000), David de la Paz (Mexico City 1999), Jose Luis Magana (Mexico City 1998), Nasser Nasser (Ramallah 2002), Srdjan Ilic (Kosovo 1998) & Nasser Nasser (Ramallah 2000).
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May 7, 2010

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Al Arabiya launches Atwar Bahjat Award recognising outstanding female journalists

Abu Dhabi, 30 April 2007: Al Arabiya news channel announced the launch of the 'Atwar Bahjat Award,' an annually awarded prize that will recognize outstanding achievements by female journalists. The 2007 award was presented by MBC Chairman, Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim bin Ibrahim to Samia Nakhoul, Middle East Bureau manager at Reuters during this year's Arab Broadcast Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"The award comes as a symbolic gesture to the living memory of Atwar Bahjat, who sadly made the ultimate sacrifice while covering her beat in Iraq," said Sheikh Waleed. "I hope this award will help recognize and stimulate the efforts of female journalists all over the world, especially those covering the region's hotspots.

"Al Arabiya - committed to bringing its audience closer to the truth- paid a heavy toll covering the situation in Iraq, adds Sheikh Waleed. "11 staff were killed and several offices targeted several times by suicide bombing attempts, but this didn't deter journalists like Bahjat, determined that people needed and indeed, deserved a credible, fact-based reportage."

The inaugural award recipient, Samia Nakhoul, was among several female Arab and international journalists nominated by different independent organizations and press unions. She was unanimously selected to receive the award.

Nakhoul has covered some of the worlds hottest locations, including most of the conflict the Middle East region has witnessed in the past few years. She is a leading name among the Arab journalist community, having managed Reuters Gulf before moving to head-up the whole Reuters team in the Middle East.

"Samia's name is familiar to anyone working in a newsroom in the region," commented one of the journalists who presented the award. "She's a model journalist who is always very active on the ground - filing a story a day from very different locations and always taking part in different forums, debates and media events."

Nakhoul started her career with Reuters' Beirut bureau in 1987, covering West Beirut during the final years of Lebanon's civil war. Her stories covered everything from the daily street battles of the various militias as well as following leads into the abductions and assassinations of several western civilians and diplomats and politicians.

Samia then went on to cover the 1991 Gulf war from Iraq and moved to Cairo in 1992 where she specialized in covering Islamic movements.

Samia Nakhoul and three photographers received serious injuries on April 8, 2003 while covering the invasion of Iraq from the Palestine hotel. Two of her colleagues also lost their lives that morning.

"I commend Nakhoul and her female colleagues across the world. This award will serve to encourage more such professionalism, and we look forward - as a viewing audience - to reaping the benefits of objective, rigorous journalism that exposes the truth no matter the consequence," concludes Sheikh Waleed.