January 24, 2004 by

Abdul Rahman Munif

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Categories: Writers/Editors

Abdul Rahman Munif’s critically praised books were so controversial that several Arab governments banned them. Saudi Arabia even revoked his citizenship in 1963.
What kind of books did he write? Fictionalized stories of political oppression in the Middle East.
Born in Jordan to a Saudi father and an Iraqi mother, Munif studied law at Baghdad University but was expelled in 1955. He finished his studies in Cairo then moved to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in oil economics. Munif spent many years working in the oil industry until 1973, when he moved to Lebanon and became a writer. After civil war broke out, he traveled to Iraq and France before settling in Syria in 1986.
Of his 15 novels, Munif was best known for the epic “Cities of Salt” series, which dealt with the psychological and sociological impact the exploitation of oil had on the Saudi Bedouin society. He won the Sultan al-Uways Award, the Arab equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1992, and received the Cairo Award for Creative Narration six years later.
Munif died on Jan. 24 from kidney failure and heart problems. He was 71.

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