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Last Updated: Monday, 7 June, 2004, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
Profile: Frank Gardner
Frank Gardner
Frank Gardner is an expert on the region
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner was seriously injured in Sunday's gun attack in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The 42-year-old, a fluent Arabic speaker, is a leading expert on al-Qaeda and reports full-time on the "global war on terror".

He has many years' experience working in Saudi Arabia as a journalist and has worked with the BBC since 1995.

He also spent nine years working in and around the region as an investment banker with Saudi International Bank and Robert Fleming from 1986-95.

He's the sort of guy who will get through a passport because he runs out of room
Anthony Campanale

In those jobs he first showed the flair and skill he uses in journalism, friend of 25 years Anthony Campanale told BBC News Online.

"He was always cut out for journalism. When Kuwait was liberated, he was there with his camera, doing a piece like a reporter.

"He's a good communicator, incredibly good at thinking on his feet, knows how to handle situations spontaneously and comes across really well."

Arabic studies

He met Gardner when he was studying Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter University and described him as incredibly widely-travelled, especially in the Middle East.

"In one year he travelled to 28 countries. He's the sort of guy who will get through a passport because he runs out of room," he said.

Gardner is married with two daughters and is based in London.

In 1995 he worked for BBC World as a producer and reporter. He became the Corporation's first full-time Gulf correspondent in the late 1990s and set up an office in Dubai.

His work reflects the true complexities of the stories he reports
Vin Ray
BBC Newsgathering
In 2000 he was appointed Middle East correspondent in charge of the bureau in Cairo, but travelling widely throughout the region. In that role he covered the Palestinian intifada and reaction in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

Gardner has interviewed many of the region's key leaders including Yasser Arafat and Egypt's President Mubarak.

His language skills and Arabic knowledge are well respected in the industry.

"There are parts of the Arab world that he's been to where if you don't have Arabic, you are at a distinct disadvantage, places where he could get under the skin of things," said BBC defence correspondent Paul Adams.

'Right person, right time'

Since 2002 Gardner has specialised solely in covering the "war on terror".

That appointment was a case of the "right person, right job, right time," said Adams. "As a result he has made himself pretty indispensable."

Deputy head of BBC newsgathering Vin Ray said Gardner's skills set him apart from his peers.

"He is an expert on the Middle East, al-Qaeda and the underlying causes of the War on Terror and, because of his deep expertise, his work always reflects the true complexities of the stories he reports," he said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Saudi ambassador to Britain Prince Turki al-Faisal all praised Mr Gardner's work.

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