It is with sadness that we have learned of the death of a good friend and fine colleague, Youssef Azmeh.

Youssef, who died in August aged 65, was among the most distinguished Arab journalists of our time.

He was editor of MEED for 18 months until, in late 1975, Reuters recruited him. He was a hard act to follow, as his subsequent career with Reuters proved. In a short time he had moved MEED from its origins as a ‘digest’ of available information to the beginnings of the world-beating news and analysis magazine it is today.

Youssef was the son of an eminent Syrian family. He gave 27 years to Reuters as a reporter and editor, and helped to stamp its Middle East file with a lasting authority.

He and his Danish wife, Gerda, created a warm family home wherever they went and were the most gracious of hosts. Reuters returned Youssef to the Middle East at the end of the 1980s as the news editor and then as its Dubai bureau chief.

Youssef al-Azmeh, as he became known throughout the region, set a premium on bringing forward the talent of younger Arab reporters and remained their friend and mentor – even after he retired in 2001.

His retirement was darkened by Gerda’s death in 2003 and by a struggle of his own with an illness that turned out to be cancer.

Jonathan Wallace, former publisher and editor of MEED