Jordanian director Saud Fayad dies at 78: 'He had a great presence'

Fayad was known for powerful TV dramas focusing on rural Jordan

One of Jordan's most celebrated television directors, Saud Fayad, died on Saturday aged 78.

The news was announced by Jordan's Minister of Culture Ali Al Ayed through the kingdom’s news agency, Petra.

No cause of death has been revealed.

The minister paid tribute to Fayad’s four-decade career, during which he directed seminal Jordanian television dramas, including 1984’s Al Saqr (The Hawk) and 1992’s Al Ghareeb (The Stranger).

"He had a great presence and knew how to appeal to Jordanian and Arabic viewers," said Al Ayed.

The minister also praised Fayad's ability to capture the atmosphere and societal nuances of rural Jordan. "He detailed the intimate relationship Jordanians had with the land and through his directorial vision, remained diligent in searching and implementing appropriate dramatic texts.

"I offer deepest condolences to the artist’s family, the Jordanian Syndicate of Artists and his friends in Jordan and the Arab cultural community.”

Actor Zuhair El Nobani, who worked with Fayad on the 1988 drama Wajh Al-Zaman (The Face of Time), also paid his respects on Facebook.

“He left a good and beautiful impact in life and people's hearts and his valuable beautiful works will continue to be a witness to his creativity.”

Who was Saud Fayad?

Born in 1943 in the hillside town of Al Salt, Fayad graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Jordan in 1967.

As a member of the Jordanian Syndicate of Artists, he travelled to London and the US for a series of television direction courses before getting his start with state broadcaster JRTV in the early 1970s, directing news broadcasts and variety shows.

That mix of human interest and entertainment, aided by his academic training, came together when Fayad turned his attention to directing dramas.

Perhaps because he grew up in a tight-knit agricultural community, away from the hustle and bustle of the capital Amman, Fayad took a keen interest in stories from rural Jordan.

Early works such as 1976’s Lahn Al Bawadi and 1981’s Shams Al Agwar set the tone for a new generation of Jordanian Bedouin dramas, which were informed by social practices and steeped in atmosphere.

Between the 1980s and early 1990s, Fayad directed many of his best-known works, including Al Saqr and Al Ghareeb.

Both series used local conflict – in Al Saqr it is familial rivalry, while Al Ghareeb follows an inheritance battle – to tell a bigger story about Jordan's rural societies with their own values and codes of conduct.

The notable series Wajh Al-Zaman saw Fayad blend his rural concern with regional issues. Starring El Nobani, the series explored the struggles faced by Palestinians in Jordanian villages after the forced displacement from their homeland in the late 1940s.

Such bold storytelling was reflective of that period, Fayad said in a 2015 interview on Portrait, a cultural programme on Jordan TV. Well into his retirement at the time, he recalled how his career was shaped by a sense of hard work and adventure.

"It has been a great journey," he said.

"The spirit of teamwork at the time was beautiful and full of kindness. We had a sense of vision, bravery, we wanted to learn and we had respect for what we created.”

Fayad was buried in Al Salt on Saturday.

Updated: August 8th 2021, 12:38 PM
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