Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf in the Eyes of his Employees [Archives:1999/23/Front Page]

June 7 1999

The last of the Titans Gone
It is heartbreaking and very sorrowful for me to write about such a great person as Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, for it is painful for me to realize that he has left us for good. The man had a visible impact on the life of our people, not just on his friends and the people of the Yemen Times. The gap he left can not be filled by anyone. This is because he played a pivotal role and was instrumental in the political, social and economic transformation of our society in this modern era. Dr. Saqqaf was not merely a journalist or a professor at a university, but also a titan whose main concern was to focus the attention of his people and the regime on many modern  human values like democracy, human rights, press freedom and many other issues, aiming at a better tomorrow for his nation and country. He always felt worried about such issues, and hence devoted his life to these great values as he considered them a key factor in development and progress. Therefore, he was always at odds with the authorities, which spared no effort to put him down. I could feel this through my continuous reading of the Yemen Times. After that, I was offered a job with him, and I started writing for the paper.  I was highly excited because I would work with  a person like Dr. Saqqaf. I thought it would be difficult for me meet the man and talk to him. But, to my surprise, I found him very modest, for he welcomed me and gave me a seat beside him and started encouraging me. Appreciating my work, he appointed me as the assistant managing editor within a 2-month time without subjecting me to a probationary period. By this I mean the man was very intelligent and could understand people very quickly. Moreover, he was very hardworking and liked hardworking people.  I believe he was the most hardworking person in Yemen, for I have never come to the office of the paper and not found him there, even very early in the morning. It is this deep love and devotion to his work and respect for time that gave a broad access into success and fame.
Another resounding phrase that I shall never forget is when I once called to him “sir, I would like such and such…”. His answer dumfounded me. “I am not ‘sir,’ I am Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf” was his casual and humble reply.
In fact,  books can be written about the man and  will not be able to do him justice, for he was an academic in the true sense of the term. I do confess I have learned a lot from him , mainly courage, love of knowledge and respect for time  and the true principles of journalism- pillars of the modern times.
Finally, I do stress that the Yemen Times will keep on following the same pace drawn by the late Dr. Saqqaf, defending the modern values of democracy and human rights. Again, if  his body has passed away, his pen and thoughts are still alive and kicking. May his soul rest in peace in paradise.
Mohammed H. Al-Qadhi
“We belong to Allah and to Allah we shall return.”
Dr. Abdulaziz’s death was the worst news I have ever heard in my life. I was incredibly shocked, and I  did not accept it till I saw the body with my own eyes. I still have trouble believing that he has left us for good. My mind accepts, but not my heart. Every night when I am at home I start to think that God has taken one of our beloved persons from the country and me. But when I arrive every morning at the Yemen Times, I start feeling he is still alive, managing and supervising us.
It was nearly five years ago that I started working with Pro. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf. He was a father, a teacher, a guide, a supervisor, and a friend. I never heard him shouting or abusing his employees for mistakes we have done. He is always teaching us how we can improve and learn from our mistakes. All these things make us work more, and produce better material. Because of him, we cooperated like one family. He treated us like his sons. He is always encouraging us to fight for human rights and democracy.
He was a man with ideas, ready to work and make things happen. He was a person who believed in perfection and quality. Every thing he was thinking and doing for the newspaper was to reach a high standard of technology and a wide spread of information. He made the Yemen Times as full of high tech software and hardware as any big newspaper. He transferred the images of Yemen through his newspaper to every person around the world. He made the YT the first Yemeni English newspaper to transmits Yemen’s life to the world through our web site. I have learned much from every word and action he has made, and I will keep this in my heart and mind forever. Every Tuesday was our regular weekly editorial staff meeting.  But on June 1st he asked all of us to attend a meeting of all the staff. And the words he said in this meeting was his last message to us. He said, “You have to know that I am feeling and treating you as if all of you were my sons. Because of this I want everybody to feel a responsibility for his work, I don’t want to have to follow and check up after you.”
In fact we are his sons and we keep him alive through his newspaper, the Yemen Times.
I can’t express what he was for us in words and through my grief. May God have mercy upon him.
Anwar Al-Sayyady
The incident happened fast, faster than I could conceive of it. I felt that I was living through the worst nightmare of my life, and I did not know when I was going to wake up. Only on Thursday morning, when I entered the newspaper’s premises, and I saw Dr. Saqqaf’s photos with a black stripe on the top left corner, did I wake up to face the unrelenting reality, a day I was not prepared for. Dr. Saqqaf has passed away in a lamentable accident. I don’t know how many people have died under the same circumstances, where a kid with no sense of responsibility has been presented with a deadly machine: a car. Why not give him a computer instead? Will the death of Dr. Abdulaziz make us realize that we need to plan and think of better ways to advertise before we place huge signboards in the middle of the road, blocking the view?
Maybe Dr. Saqqaf is not with us physically, but we can feel his presence in his dreams of establishing a civil community that calls for the respect of the individual’s rights and other values such as democracy, human rights etc. He left a mark on every aspect of our lives, social, political, cultural and educational. He will always be there to remind us of his dreams, to push us when we slow down. We will always see him in every stride our nation takes towards making these values materialize.
Many questions cross my mind everytime I see Dr. Saqqaf’s photo, such as, are photos and personal memories all that we have left of Dr. Saqqaf? Certainly not, for those who knew him, Dr. Saqqaf still lives on. Yes, we all have Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf in us. If we really realize and sense the values Dr. Abdulaziz lived for, and devoted our lives to follow these values to stand up for those who are tortured, harassed, oppressed, and if we strive to strengthen and safeguard our young and precious democracy.
Dr. Saqqaf died early, but he surely accomplished more than most of us will in a life time.
I could not find any better words to console myself than the words of King Solomon – the wisest man in the history of mankind.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to celebrate.”
Good-bye Dr. Abdulaziz.
Hatem Bamehriz
An Ideal Father
 It was very shocking for the people of Yemen to be informed about the loss of Dr. Saqqaf. He was the torch-bearer for all good principles and values. He was a pioneer of the true word. I have worked with him for many years and he has taught me a lot in life. Further, he always encouraged us to meet the critical moments in our life and was a model for us in this regard. He was a great thinker and scholar whose main concern was to illuminate the people of his society. May Allah receive his soul in peace.
Hayaf A. Al-Saqqaf,
“Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf is dead.”
It was really hard to bring myself to believe that this is the only statement that can be used in the present tense about Dr. Al-Saqqaf. From now on, anything said about him must be in the past tense.
This grim reality was brought about by a tragic car accident that extinguished the light of a great writer and closed the eyes of a bold fighter. Now we all know that all humans are mortals. If there is anything that can not be doubted, contested or denied it is Death. But like many things in Yemen death is so special because it is so irrational. The life of Dr. Abdulaziz expired because of the recklessness not only of a teenager but of the entire society that does not  honor human life anymore and rather allows many heedless people to have control over the tools of death. So in the nightmarish context of Yemeni, the tragic incident that snatched a life of as much greatness as Dr. Abdulaziz’s was only an additional score in an endlessly woeful sequence of premature death. In Yemen, reasons for unnatural deaths are plain and plentiful for all to suffer from. It is not only poverty and epidemics that terminates the lives of many of us, our stupidity and folly can do it too. How many people have been killed because of careless drivers? Many. How many of us have been killed over trivial disputes through the use of machine guns that are strapped over the shoulders or tied around the hips of many of us? The answer is also  many. Even in our happy occasions, like marriages for example, our pleasure is often crowned with the spray of bullets that sometimes turn the wedding party into a funeral procession.
Reasons abound for the abnormality of our society, but I think that the first among these reasons is the dominance of our society by the tribes, which has intensified during the past few decades. As the whole world is diligently and wisely preparing itself to move into the 21st century, we are retreating to the pre-Islamic tribal Arab  communities. As the  world receives the 21 century with strides towards common sense and intelligence, we receive it with strides back towards nonsense. This was one issue that greatly disturbed the late Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf and troubled his peace of mind. The Yemen 21 Forum that he founded is a true reflection of a serious endeavor to help the Yemeni society dispense with the tribal manifestations to become a more civil society ruled by respected institutions. In a sense, the whole life of Dr. Abdulaziz was a fierce battle of progress against decay, freedom against oppression, sense against nonsense, civilization against the jungle, and life against death. Ironically enough, it seems that the logic of death is still far powerful than that of life and that’s why the brilliant career  of Dr.
Abdulaziz was so prematurely  terminated.
And now to the victim.
I must first confess that I have only been working at the Yemen Times for three months, but I must admit that this short period has been one of the most wonderful and enriching experiences in my life. I think that anyone who has had the privilege of working with and under the direct  supervision of Dr. Saqqaf will agree with me as to his dedication, sincerity and love of his job. I do not think that I am exaggerating when I say that Yemen Times is among the few places, if not the only place in the whole country, where the work ethic is meticulously observed and respected. The contrast becomes alarming when we know that real work ethics are not yet introduced into our country.   Among the many good things for which the late was fighting, a strong work ethic came first. Indeed they were important chapters in his philosophy. Work comes first, anything else comes second. In his case it’s really difficult to distinguish between the personal or the professional. Dr. Abdulaziz’s personality was his work and vice versa. So, if Yemen Times, that he built almost form scratches is a good thing it means that he was also a good person. A long time  ago, when Islam was still clean and not distorted, Imam Ali, peace be upon him, said that the “true merit of a person depends on how well he carries out his work.” Perhaps the late Dr. Abdulaziz did not know about this saying of Imam Ali, but I honestly testify that he lived up to this truth in every way.
Mohammed Ahmed Abbas,
Goodbye Dear
It was a shock to loose him, that man who spent his life serving the people and Yemen. He was always available when somebody needed him. His ultimate goals in life were peace and human rights. His accomplishments are embodied in all his deeds during his life.
We all can not believe that he has now left the world, and in such terrible way.
His loss is an eternal grief inside all his family members and friends and inside all Yemenis
He was a man worthy of respect and it is an honor to walk in the way he paved for us.
Akram Al-Saqqaf
I was only recently employed  at Yemen Times but during my employment  I was very much impressed by his relationship with his employees. It was like a father with his children. This kind of relationship between a boss and his employees can very rarely be found. I have worked in other places but I have never seen this kind of relationship before. When I came to Yemen Times, I discovered  a very different kind of administration, in which all the employees were 100% productive because of his relationship with them. Everyone loved him. Dr. Abdulaziz was a man possessing a vast knowledge, and I have indirectly learned many things from him during the short period  of my   employment. I remember his last chat with me as if it was yesterday, when he was instructing my colleague Hatem to teach me the ways in which our job works. He encouraged us all until his last moment.
I remember the first time I applied for employment at this esteemed newspaper, after many attempts at other organizations and companies. I did not have any experience in press work. My bachelors degree was even in Communications, not Journalism, and in this country you cannot get a job easily in any field. Dr. Abdulaziz told me that since you are qualified we will teach you, and he said that nothing in life is impossible, but to achieve your goals you will have to struggle and fight.
He was very active and concerned with the newspaper’s issues, every morning he used to come and check the latest work. His comments on mistakes were in the form of jokes, and he would never hurt anyone. He used to come show us our mistakes and teach us how to overcome  it, so that we won’t fall into the same mistake again. Before the every paper was issued, he used  to go all around the office to check that everything was running find.
In closing, I would like to say that Yemen is an unfortunate country to have lost one of its greatest sons, who was a faithful and devoted fighter for its rights.  Dr. Abdulaziz devoted his life to this work, but what else can we say, other than that God has appointed the length of a man’s life, and has set the time of his death. Dr. Abdulaziz who has dreamt of achieving lots of good things for this country through his written word and achievements but has left this country with a big gap which I myself don’t think will be filled easily by some one else, but we at the Yemen Times with the supervision of the deceased’s son Waleed will try to keep his word alive through his established news paper the Yemen Times  and will step on his steps.
Nadim A.Hamid
Forever in Our Hearts
Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf will remain a pioneer for true and frank words and a name equivalent to love, faith and peace. He will remain a source in Yemeni history forever.
I write these words to man who gave the people of his country all that he could.
I think that I would need more than one large book to write about his achievements and deeds. He provided our village with hospital, electricity, water, etc. That means he provided us with life. With his efforts the Adeem Clinic was opened in our village. Not only that, but he, then provided that clinic with modern equipment. As he finished with the clinic, he followed up with the public institutions to install electricity in the village. The electricity supply included many other areas (Al-Hadharim, Adim, Al-Asabeh, Al-Qarraisha, Al-Sonne’ah).  His efforts in the Arab world and international arena helped enable projects in education and qualifying tests in the same villages.
By his efforts, two new schools are being built, one is sponsored by Qatar, and the other by the World Bank.
Paving roads, building sport club, and providing poor people of his village with food, etc., were also some of his touches in this respect.
I spent two years working with him in the Yemen Times. Within him I saw the true life of work.
Bassam Al-Saqqaf
A Boss or a Father
How can a smile be plucked out from the heart of people suddenly and in such a cruel manner? It’s God’s decision that this man of love, peace, and human rights, a man who gave his life to Yemen, Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, 47, has been killed by a terrible car accident.
A car has taken away the life of my soul’s father. “Oh, if it were possible, I would burn all cars in the world”.
Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was my boss for a time. But, I never saw him as a boss. All I can say is that I had a father from December 8, 1998, until June 2, 1999, and then he was gone.
“Oh, how I can fill this gap inside me again?”
I still remember that he pushed me gently to learn many things, and if not  for him, I would not be what I am now.
I still remember. It is as if it happened just a few minutes ago. He always came in in the morning smiling and joking with everybody.
I still remember the taste of the candies he used to buy for us some days, as if he were a father and we were his kids.
I still remember when we had our breakfast together in the Yemen Times, one family with him.
I still remember when I had my final exams and he shouted at me “Go back home! I don’t want to see your face here until you finish your exams.”
I still remember that I was absent for almost one month, and then I got my salary anyway.
I still remember our staff meetings in the Yemen Times. They were friendly and fruitful.
I still remember when I decided to resign. I said, “It is a better position and a very good salary.” He tenderly said, “I want you to be perfect, little daughter”
I still remember and I feel him coming with candies again.
I still remember and remember and remember, and my heart cries and  falls deeply into grief?
The sun rose one-day when Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was born, and it set again when he died?
Will the sun rise again?!
How many centuries will pass until Yemen has another Saqqaf?
God, I have been always satisfied with everything you predetermine. For my sake, God, let peace fall upon him and let the heavens be his last and eternal home.
Nadwa Al-Dawsari,
My hands couldn’t write. How could I express the loss of this dear person whose pen and words were weapons to fight corruption? We lost a father, a brother and a friend. He has gone, leaving us like young orphans. He taught us patience and now he is gone, and with his leaving we have lost everything.
It was a shock when I heard the news of his death: How can he leave us alone without support?!
Nobody can deny how he used to help poor people, with his hand helping everybody. Yes, he was a tower of love and work.
He was mostly a fountain of love.
We found him always a lover of work, and a person who never met with laziness. He always used to say to us: “Sons, I want you to do well in your work, so that I can be proud of you”
“Oh, you left us while we are in dire need to you”
“You left us with the Yemen Times, please be sure that it will continue and we will all work hard for that. Take it a promise that we will all stand by your son in his hard task”
“Abdulaziz, you have gone away. But, you will remain alive in our hearts and your deeds will be our guide and pass to the future. May God have mercy upon you.
Marwan Al-Saqqaf
The news of his death was the last catastrophe. How can a broken heart express anything beyond that?! There are no words that will work for that. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was even more than a father and advisor.
As his relative, I worked with him in the Yemen Times from an early age. I gained a lot of experience from him. His advice and direction helped me in many things. He taught me how to work hard, and how to depend upon myself and how to be a reliable man. He taught me how to love Yemen and how to transfer that love in my work.
I promise you, dear father, that I will continue on the way you started and that your words will be my support in life. Your memories will take a permanent place inside my heart until I meet you again. They will be a new beginning for my life to go on.
Tour principles and the Yemen Times will be the candle by which we pass through the dusts of life.
Go, father to your final home, and be in rest, we will all together continue the way you started.
Imad Al-Saqqaf
To the one who was the hope of Yemenis:
To the one who taught us to loving the country, like he taught us truth and faith..
To the one whose words are our hearts light to face the absurdities of life..
To the one who was a symbol of hard work..
To the one whose ideas and thoughts have been and will be always our principle in life..
One of his great sayings that stuck in my mind is when he said in one of our staff’s meetings: “I don’t praise a person who does good. I rather push him to work harder, for surely he still has more and better to come.”
Rasheed Ali Al-Saqqaf
Saqqaf is in Our Hearts
Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf will remain alive in our hearts forever. We will never forget his precious advice. He was truly a father to all the people. He was always ready to help anybody. With his departure, it is not only the Yemen Times and his family that will suffer his loss, but also the whole Yemeni nation.
In fact, he loved his country to the extreme and was ready to die for it. I feel I am unable to write much, for I can not believe now that he has gone forever.
Hafidh Tarbush,
It is hard to recall my memories of the late Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf now that he has passed away. The catastrophe that has afflicted us in the Yemen Times is to great to recover our sanity so soon. As Muslims, we submit to the will of Allah, but it was a severe blow to all of us. So, we need as much condolences as does the family of the late Dr. Al-Saqqaf.
The times I spent with him were the best moments of my life. Whenever he was around I used to learn something new from him. Our loss at his demise was indescribable. He was not just a boss for me, he was rather a father, a guide, and every thing that is dear and cherished. As his relative, he used to support my inner peace and dissipate my fear at the changes of life. His faith in Allah was always unshakable and I will always look upon him as a role model for anyone who seeks to prosper in this life and the hereafter.
May Allah receives his soul in peace, mercy and eternal happiness in heaven.
Nayif  Abduallh Al-Saqqaf
Death is something that we all will face, only Allah is immortal. Dr. Saqqaf has preceded us to a destiny that we all must face. I hope that my simple words can bring us some comfort. I would like to discuss  some of the things that made Dr. Abdul Aziz stand out in these times.
He had very high morals, and he was loved and respected by others for his reliability, honesty and generosity. He gave and accepted criticism without anger or malice. He was very hard working and intense, and was always the first to get to work in the morning. Finally, he was always humble, and lived by what he said. He made a place for himself in our hearts, and everyone recognized his great abilities.
Yasser Mohammed Ahmed
The man who was our guide to the future is gone. This compassionate father, sympathetic brother and sincere friend has left this world.  The soul of a great freedom fighter and an honest writer is in heaven. Our only solace is that the values for which he fought all his life will never die. We pray that Allah will receive him in peace and mercy and help us to carry on the message of a great man.
Afra Zubair Ahmed
When I heard that Dr. Saqqaf had died, I couldn’t believe that it had happened. I was in Dhamar at the time, but I rushed home immediately to find out if the news was true. I almost collapsed when I heard that it was, and then when I saw the body, I was really hit hard. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I just wanted to cry.
He was like a father to me, always helping, teaching and advising me. Every fay that I go to work, I still almost expect him to be there, laughing and working.
Yousef Sharif
It was like a bad dream when I heard about the death of our father, brother and friend  Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf.  The time I had spent with him was short because I had only recently joined the newspaper, but what I could easily see that this man was very active, serious and faithful to his work. I learned from him that a person’s value is in the  work that he performs. He would always listen to me when I needed him to. Many people loved him, and I did to.
Ayman Ali
Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was not just anyone. He was one of those people who make history, and the results of his work will never fade away. For a long time, I have always found in him a great personality with a penetrating mind and a profound ability to confront challenges.
His untimely death has dumbfounded me and the only solace that comforts me is that his brilliant history will be a source of wealth for all of us in the Yemen Times.
Esma’eel Al-Ghabri
I dedicate these simple words to the late Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, a brave man of the world who never swayed nor bent in defending and spreading the values of justice and human rights. This great man has passed away. For me he was not only a boss but also a father, a brother and a friend. During my 8 years of working with him, I have learned many things. Among these things is respect for work and the courage to say what one thinks is right and integrity to defend your convictions.
May Allah receive his soul in peace, mercy and grace.
Ridhwan A. Al-Saqqaf
He left us early, nobody expected him to leave us when we needed him the most. Destiny has its way, as a good friend of Dr. Abdulaziz said “God calls the good people to join him.”
His departure at this time was unimaginable, just a day before the tragedy we were discussing and planing for the week ahead, but God’s plans were different. I will always remember you in my work and try to follow in your steps, I will remember you in my prayers and in everything I do.
I will miss you.
Walid Abdulla Al-Saqqaf
Our loss is huge, no words can express it. I really doubt if there will be anyone like him again, considerate, caring, and loving. He was a candle lighting my path, giving me hope. A hope of a beautiful Yemen, a hope of freedom, justice and love. He taught me how to love and how to be loved. He was a teacher for us all.
I pay my respect to you dear sir.
Fatima Al-Azani
My brother and cousin Abdulaziz
Our misfortune at losing you is great, and words are not enough to describe the horrifying accident which has caused us to lose  you, this painful shock has battered us all.
Your  noble values and principles will remain for ever as a torch which will show us our way in building this beloved nation.
We and millions of people faithful to  the right, justice and  humanity, have cried that we have lost you. We all wish for your soul to rest in peace. Our only condolence is the legacy you leave, in the people you have  trained and the work which you started.
Your Brother
Ridha A. Al-Saqqaf