Family members say beloved AP photo assistant, driver dies at 64

CAIRO (AP) — Moustafa Bassiouni, an intrepid photo assistant and driver for The Associated Press’ Cairo bureau, has died at age 64, family members said Monday.

The relatives said he died in a Cairo hospital on Saturday after experiencing a heart attack.

Bassiouni, who started as a driver for the bureau in 1991, became a pillar of the AP's Cairo operation. Staffers relied on his street smarts and quick reflexes behind the wheel to cover assignments across the massive metropolis and wider Egypt.

He drove generations of AP photographers, writers, bureau chiefs and regional managers through the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, the chaos that followed Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring protests, and the 2013 ouster of the popularly elected but divisive President Mohammed Morsi. He was later promoted to photo assistant because of his inventiveness in getting access to difficult locations, including once by horseback. He retired in 2018.

“Moustafa was our driver, translator, fixer and most of 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 personally wouldn’t have survived without him. And he also was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.”

He was also a second set of eyes, vigilant and steadfast in precarious situations. AP photographer Amr Nabil recalled how Bassiouni spirited him back to Cairo after he sustained a grave eye injury while covering clashes between government supporters and voters after security forces blockaded polling stations in the Nile Delta town of Zagazig. Nabil said he would be completing this year's hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, a duty for all Muslims, in his former colleague's honor.

Bassiouni was remembered by colleagues for his warm smile and an infectious laugh that echoed across the newsroom, but also his blunt expressions of frustration with Cairo’s snarling traffic.

“He was a wonderful person; generous, funny, smart and committed," said Santiago Lyon, former director of photography for the AP who was based in Cairo between 1991-1995. “He truly understood the value of the work.”

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

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This story was first published on June 12, 2023. It was updated on June 18, 2023 to correct that Amr Nabil suffered an eye injury when he was covering clashes between government supporters and voters after security forces blockaded polling stations in the Nile Delta town of Zagazig.