Veteran war reporter Kate Adie worked for the BBC for 35 years before retiring as Chief News Correspondent in 2003. She is now a best-selling author and freelance journalist, and is a regular at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai. She talks to Vision about some of her career-defining moments, her no-nonsense approach to life and what we can expect next...
I’ve been to Dubai an enormous number of times since the late 70s and early 80s. In those days, it was just a small stopover in the Middle East. Now it does actually have an identity of its own.
When covering world events such as the Iran-Iraq war, I often had no contact with my office until I came here. Dubai was a place that we used to come, where it all functioned.
Attending the literary festival and seeing these wonderful speakers gives people an excuse to visit and explore Dubai.
Many see events such as this as a place to talk about the way we live. There are vast numbers of people who want to learn about all kinds of interesting things; at Dubai’s book event they get to see they are not the only ones out there with an inquiring mind.
I was by no means the first journalist covering this sort of thing. I was lucky to meet Martha Gellhorn, the famous American journalist, who reported from the Spanish Civil War in 1936. She was brilliant and her stuff reads as well as anything written today, if not better.
The media is changing so fast, I would not venture to say where it is going. Twenty-four hour news has changed the way news is consumed, never mind the way it is delivered.
When people say they want the job that I did, which was of a reporter who went to a place and took time to get there and then gave a kind of summing-up of what was going on, that does not happen now. The job I used to do has pretty well disappeared.
You meet people around the world and they’re not always famous and they’re not always doing things. I’m not someone who actually goes for heroes; I am impressed by ordinary people. I think it is difficult when you are a journalist because you tend to have the view that most people have got feet of clay, even if they have done wonderful things. We are all human.
I am writing a fifth book about women on the home front in the First World War and what they achieved. We could not have won the war without the female half of the population. They did new jobs, they showed they could do them, they took new skills and did the things that had been denied them for years.
I have never thought about achieving. I have been very lucky and had a wonderful run. I’ve done lots of interesting things, been to places I never dreamed of going to, met extraordinary people and was allowed to talk about them. What else could you want?
My philosophy is have fun, do good.