National editor quits to become GEMS PR chief

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The editor of The National, the Abu Dhabi-based daily newspaper, is to leave his role to join GEMS Education as communications chief.

Hassan M Fattah, the former New York Times correspondent, is understood to be joining the Dubai-based education provider as its new communications director.

Fattah was originally deputy to Martin Newland, the launch editor who used to be in charge of the UK's Telegraph. He became editor in 2009 when Newland moved "upstairs" in the role of editorial director.

Speculation that Fattah was leaving The National, which is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, has been circulating for months.

When Arabian Business approached Fattah about the rumours in August, he denied he had been approached by GEMS.

"I get offers all the time, but I'm flattered," Fattah said, in an email. "Have them call me."

A leaked email published by seemed to confirm the move.

"Congratulations on your appointment and welcome to the GEMS group," wrote a manager at GEMS Education in the email to Fattah, it reported.

At launch in 2008, The National recruited a plethora of top journalists from the US, Britain and Canada but the paper has since been hit by budget cuts and shakeups in management.

GEMS Education currently operates close to 100 schools in 19 countries, serving 147,000 students from 151 countries.

It employs 11,000 staff, and is planning to increase its presence to 50 countries within the next three years.

The company charges up to $40,000 a year in school fees.

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Posted by: mohammed

This is a tragedy for the National, for Abu Dhabi and for everyone who cares about journalism. Hassan was an intelligent, fearless editor, who carried on the great work of his predecessor, Sir Martin Newland. Hassan had to compromise in ways that he, as a fine journalist, found personally repulsive and quite annoying; he could be seen in his office, sobbing uncontrollably, after pulling a story that he feared might annoy the rich and powerful. Had he run such stories he could have ended up on the streets, no better than a ?guest? worker from India. The Arab Spring presented him with a challenge that even he could not rise to. He knew that the National must not applaud the uprising since Abu Dhabi was also run by no-nonsense people. To use a term from golf, a game he had taken up to control his ballooning weight, Hassan played it safe. Who are we to condemn him? His first responsbility was to his family, and himself. We must wish well in his new job as a spin doctor for schools.

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