Popular Saudi poet and minister, Ghazi al Gosaibi, dies

Ghazi al Gosaibi, a popular Saudi government minister and poet, has died of cancer at age 70.

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Ghazi al Gosaibi, a popular Saudi government minister and poet, has died at age 70, the official Al Akhbariya television announced. He died of cancer in Riyadh's King Faisal Specialist Hospital, where he had been admitted about a month ago, members of his entourage told AFP. Al Gosaibi, who served as labour minister until his death, was known as both a technocrat who served four kings and an author of numerous novels and non-fiction works, in addition to his poetry.

He was born in Hofuf on March 3, 1940 to a prominent and wealthy family of traders. Gosaibi earned a law degree at the University of Cairo in 1961, a masters at the University of Southern California in 1964, and a doctorate of law at the University of London in 1970. He was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Bahrain from 1984 to 1992, then to Britain from 1992-2002. He was respected by Saudi progressives for his boldness in pointing out the problems of conservative Saudi society.

Al Gosaibi published dozens of books, including essays, poetry, and love stories, some of which faced bans in his own country. His best-known novel, "An Apartment Called Freedom" (1996), chronicled the lives of four young Bahrainis leaving their family cocoons and plunging into freewheeling, turbulent 1950s Cairo to attend university. *AFP

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