Family members say beloved AP photo assistant driver dies aged 64

CAIRO (AP) — Moustafa Bassiouni, fearless photo assistant and driver for the Cairo bureau of The Associated Press, has died at age 64, family members said Monday. They said he died in a Cairo hospital on Saturday after suffering a heart attack.

Bassiouni, who started as a driver for the office in 1991, has become a mainstay of PA operations in Cairo. Staff members relied on his street smarts and quick driving reflexes to cover assignments in the huge metropolis and wider Egypt.

He led generations of PA photographers, writers, bureau chiefs and regional directors through the reign of former President Hosni Mubarak, the chaos that followed the 2011 Arab Spring protests in Egypt. and the 2013 ousting of popularly elected but divisive President Mohammed Morsi. He was later promoted to camera assistant due to his inventiveness in accessing difficult places, including once on horseback. He retired in 2019.

“Moustafa was our driver, translator, repairman and above all a good friend,” said AP’s deputy director of photography for Global Enterprise, Enric Marti, who was based in Cairo from 1995 to 2001. I wouldn’t have survived without him. And he was also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.

He was also a second eye, vigilant and unwavering in precarious situations. AP photographer Amr Nabil recalled how Bassiouni brought him back to Cairo after sustaining a serious eye injury while covering a 2005 anti-government protest in a Nile Delta town. Nabil said he would complete the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia this year, a duty for all Muslims, in honor of his former colleague.

Bassiouni was remembered by his colleagues for his warm smile and infectious laugh that echoed throughout the newsroom, but also for his candid expressions of frustration at Cairo’s noisy traffic.

“He was a wonderful person; generous, funny, intelligent and committed,” said Santiago Lyon, a former AP cinematographer based in Cairo between 1991 and 1995. “He really understood the value of hard work.”

Bassiouni is survived by his son Ahmed, his daughters Reham and Sarah, and his wife, Manal.

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