Mohamed Hassanein Heikal

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For other people with the surname Heikal, see Heikal (disambiguation).
Mohamed Hassanein Heikal
Heikal in 1966.jpg
Heikal, 1966
Born (1923-09-23) 23 September 1923 (age 92)
Occupation Journalist
Religion Islam

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal (Arabic: محمد حسنين هيكل‎, born 23 September 1923) is an Egyptian journalist. For 17 years (1957–1974) he was editor-in-chief of the Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram and has been a commentator on Arab affairs for more than 50 years.[1]

Heikal articulated the thoughts of President Gamal Abdel Nasser earlier in his career.[2] He worked as a ghostwriter for the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and represented the ideology of pan-Arabism.[3] Heikal has been a member of the Central Committee of the Arab Socialist Union. He was appointed minister of information in 1970 but resigned from government in 1974 over differences with Anwar Sadat.[4]

In September 2003, upon reaching the age of 80, Heikal wrote an article in the monthly magazine Weghat Nazar (where he had been writing for some time) that the time has come for an "old warrior" to put down his pen and take to the sidelines. Heikal stressed that his decision to stop writing did not mean that he would disappear, but rather take to the sidelines to observe more thoroughly. In the article he also recounted a lot of the events that occurred in his life and formed his experience including his first mission as a reporter in the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942, his friendship with Nasser and his relationship with Sadat. In addition he opened his financial records stating the salaries he has received in all the jobs and posts he has been assigned to.

In a 2007 audience with British journalist Robert Fisk, Heikal spoke about the situation in Egypt and criticized Egyptian president Mubarak, saying that Mubarak lives in a "world of fantasy" in Sharm al Sheikh.[5] These comments stirred an uproar within Egyptian society, both for and against Heikal. Heikal did not comment on this criticism except later on Al Jazeera, where he said that he stands by what he has said earlier, adding that Mubarak had not entered political life until very late, which means he lacks necessary experience.

Al Jazeera Lecture Series[edit]

Heikal's lecture series on Al Jazeera furnishes him with a greater platform in the Arab world, broadcasting every Thursday evening. Here he generally discusses information he acquired during his years as a journalist, historian, and a player in the political arena in Egypt's modern history. His lectures gave an overview of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of modern Arab nationalist governments. He has also lectured on the rise of the American Empire and the decline of the previous superpowers. His lectures range from general overviews to intricate details of scenes he witnessed. In addition he has discussed the events leading to the deterioration of Nasser's relationship with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the failed assassination attempt.

2007 Al Jazeera Lecture Series[edit]

  • Challenges in Building the Aswan Dam
  • Aswan Dam and the National Project
  • The United States and the Arab/Israeli Conflict
  • Slipping into War
  • Palestinians and Prospects of Settlement with Israel
  • Israeli Thinking and the 1956 Events
  • Conspiracy and Coup Era
  • French Plans to Interfere in Egypt
  • Creative Chaos and the Rivalry Links
  • Conspiracy Theory
  • Nasser's Debates with the West
  • Prospects of Settlement in the Middle East (2)
  • Prospects of Settlement in the Middle East (1)
  • Nasser's Ultimate Test
  • Jordan's 1956 Storm
  • Behind the Arms Deal
  • Security and National Peace
  • Arms Deals in the Arab World
  • Geneva Convention and the Importance of 1955
  • Bandong Convention
  • Preparing for Plan Alpha
  • Israeli Penetration in the Region
  • Nasser's Meeting with UK's Foreign Secretary
  • 1955 and the Arab Division
  • 1955 and the Distinguishing Symbols

2008 Al Jazeera Lecture Series[edit]

  • Mine in the Aqaba Gulf
  • Israel's Nuclear Weapons
  • Politics and History
  • World on the Verge of Chaos
  • World Foreign and Internal Politics
  • Understanding of War in Nations
  • Arab Resistance and Aid
  • War Era: Strategy and Politics
  • Arab False Battles
  • Instance of True Revolution
  • America Leads the World
  • Palestine: Right Refuses to be Forgotten (2)
  • Palestine: Right Refuses to be Forgotten (1)
  • Israel's View on Egyptian Role in the Region
  • Series of Crises in the Time of War
  • The Naked Empire
  • Alliance of Empires
  • Monsters With Eight Heads
  • Egyptian Armament and Israel's Security
  • Decision Projects Associated with Suez
  • Suez War
  • Conspiracy Theory
  • National Security Boundaries
  • Protecting Suez Canal
  • Seven Plans to Invade
  • Suez Battle and War Era
  • Truth of Wars the Arabs Fought
  • National Security Theories
  • Arriving Tremors
  • War Era

Literary works[edit]

Heikal (first from left), Hoda Abdel Nasser and Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (third from left), 1966
  • (1973) The Cairo Documents: The Inside Story of Nasser and His Relationship with World Leaders, Rebels, and Statesmen (New York: Doubleday, 1973), ISBN 9780385064477
  • (1975) The Road to Ramadan (New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 1975), ISBN 9780812905670
  • (1978) Sphinx and Commissar: The rise and fall of Soviet influence in the Arab world (London: Collins, 1978), ISBN 9780002167871
  • (1980) October War (Crown, 1980), ISBN 9780394595962
  • (1981) The Return of the Ayatollah: The Iranian Revolution from Mossadeq to Khomeini (London: Deutsch, 1981) ISBN 9780233974040
  • (1982) Iran: The Untold Story (Pantheon Books, 1982), ISBN 9780394522753
  • (1983) Autumn of Fury: The Assassination of Sadat (London: Deutsch, 1983 & London: Corgi, 1984), ISBN 9780552990981, in which he analyzed the reasons behind Sadat’s assassination and the rise of political Islam.
  • (1986) Cutting the Lion's Tale: Suez Through Egyptian Eyes (London: A. Deutsch, 1986 & New York: Arbor House, 1987), ISBN 9780233979670
  • (1993) Illusions of Triumph: An Arab View of The Gulf War (London: Fontana, 1993), ISBN 9780006379454
  • (1996) Secret Channels: The Inside Story of Arab-Israeli Peace Negotiations (London: HarperCollins, 1996), ISBN 9780006383376.

Heikal has been accused of using a fabricated quotation, The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man, in his 1996 book Secret Channels.[6]


  • Heikal or the secret file of arab memory, Riadh Sidaoui, (هيكل أو الملف السري للذاكرة العربية), Centre arabe de recherches et d'analyses, Beyrouth, 2003
  • The Liberation War of Palestine: Conspiracy of the Jews and Arabs' stand (1996).[full citation needed]


  1. ^ There isn't a target in Afghanistan worth a $1m missile - Mohamed Heikal, the Arab world's foremost political commentator, Guardian, Stephen Moss, October 10, 2001
  2. ^ Chasing the paper trail, Al-Ahram, July 26, 2007
  3. ^ Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven, 2007), p. 149-169
  4. ^ Robert Dreyfuss, Devil's Game: How the United States helped unleash Fundamentalist Islam (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), p. 151. ISBN 9780805076523
  5. ^ Mohamed Hasseinein Heikel: The wise man of the Middle East, Independent, Robert Fisk, April 9, 2007
  6. ^ “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”: Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth", Shai Afsai, Shofar, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2012, pp. 50-1

External links[edit]