Behind the story
moving to begin studying. She went to the George Mason University in Virginia, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Economics before graduating from the renowned Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris.
Despite not studying journalism, it was this profession that was undeniably Hala’s passion and since her first foray into the world of news, she has devoted her life to the job.
“I always loved telling stories,” she says. “Even as a child. What inspired me first was the happiness I felt when I was able to bring news to somebody, it’s something I understood from a very young age.”
Hala took her first tentative steps into a world that would soon define her entire career when she accepted a job as a print journalist for the French daily La Voix du Nord and wellrenowned news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), a moment she recalls with clarity.
“I remember the first-ever wire I wrote for AFP that had my initials on it,” she adds. “I was 21 years old and it was the happiest I had ever been in my life.”
From there Hala’s career moved in leaps and bounds and with a trilingual grasp of French, English and Arabic her career path almost seemed predestined. A stint at French network France 3 followed by an anchoring role at Bloomberg Television in London eventually meant Hala was snapped up by CNN where, alongside anchoring mainstream news, she hosted specialist Middle East programmes.
She currently anchors the International Desk having previously co-hosted YourWorld Today with Jim Clancy. And since joining CNN in 1998, Hala hasn’t looked back.
“CNN has been my family now for more than 15 years,” she notes loyally and it’s no wonder – under the network’s wing she has grown into both a formidable anchor and an esteemed correspondent.
Over the past decade Hala has covered every Middle Eastern country, and has reported from the most dangerous places in the world to keep viewers informed on the stories making history. She was instrumental in CNN’s coverage of the Arab Spring and her reports from the revolt in Egypt earned the organisation a Peabody Award. In 2010, Hala covered the devastating earthquake in Haiti, for which CNN’s coverage was recognised with a Golden Nymph Award, one of the highest honours in international journalism.
Prior to that in 2006 CNN received an Edward R Murrow Award for her coverage of the Lebanon-Israel war. “That was one of the most defining moments in my career,” she says, “because it’s a war I covered from beginning to end on the Lebanon side. I felt like what we were doing was important, it made a difference and for our American audience, it really explained the story well to them. I was very proud of our work.”
Being at home with understanding and relaying the often complex politics of the Middle East allowed Hala to take up the coveted position of host for CNN’s Inside theMiddle East. Five years at the helm of the monthly show that
Hala says it’s becoming extremely hard from a personalsafety standpoint to cover conflict in this region