Ben Hubbard Named Beirut Bureau Chief

Ben Hubbard has walked through a mass protest in Egypt with a GoPro on his head, covered bullfights on the Gulf of Oman, and discussed the theological fine points of beheading with clerics in Saudi Arabia. Before he joined The New York Times as a correspondent in 2013, he was part of a team at The Associated Press that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for work in Syria.

But it is his work from Saudi Arabia that demonstrates what makes Ben such a special correspondent, and why we are naming him the next Beirut bureau chief.

Credit: Sabine Choucair

In Saudi Arabia, he has turned out deeply revealing reports from a closed society that is changing rapidly under a headstrong crown prince. From his sharp analysis of the prince’s drive to bring the religious establishment to heel to his richly detailed report on the government’s jailing of hundreds of businessmen and royals in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, he has peeled back the curtain from the prince’s relentless consolidation of power.

Because Ben speaks fluent Arabic, he is able to pepper his copy with telling insights gleaned from conversations with everyday people. In a fascinating look at the role of religion in Saudi life, he introduced readers to a 9-year-old girl named Dana.

“When is your birthday?” Ben asked her.

“We don’t have that in Saudi Arabia,’’ she said. “That’s an infidel holiday.”

Such gems have become a trademark of Ben’s, who often wins the trust of the people he meets.

Ben Hubbard was born and raised in Littleton, Colo., studied history at Northwestern, and served in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, where he learned a language few people have heard of (Gourma). After writing and trying to publish a book about the experience, he decided to learn a language that everyone had heard of and moved to Egypt to study Arabic at the American University in Cairo. He then completed a master’s in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and joined The Associated Press.

Ben has since reported from Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. He lives in Beirut with his wife, Sabine Choucair, a clown, in an apartment with a Foosball table in the living room.

Please join us in congratulating him.

 Michael Slackman and Herbert Buchsbaum.