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Jamal Khashoggi 'truly lived life to the fullest', his daughters say

Saudi journalist's daughters, Noha and Razan Jamal Khashoggi, write in Washington Post column that their father's light will never fade
Khashoggi's daughters say he longed to go back to Saudi Arabia and make the country better (Reuters)

“He was just ‘Baba’”.

That’s how Jamal Khashoggi’s daughters, Noha Khashoggi and Razan Jamal Khashoggi, described their father: “simply Dad”.

In a column published Friday in the Washington Post, the US newspaper in which Khashoggi had a regular column, his daughters described him as "a loving man with a big heart", a passion for books and an unrelenting thirst for knowledge.

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"He surrounded himself with books and always dreamed of having more. And in all he read, he never discriminated, fully absorbing every opinion. His love of books taught him to form his own thoughts. He taught us to do the same," they wrote.

Khashoggi, who was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, strived "for a utopian version of reality" — which is what drove him to think critically, his daughters said.

"It was vitally important to him to speak up, to share his opinions, to have candid discussions. And writing was not just a job, it was a compulsion; it was ingrained into the core of his identity, and it truly kept him alive," they wrote.

"Now, his words keep his spirit with us, and we are grateful for that. They say, 'Here was a man who truly lived life to the fullest.'"

Not a eulogy

Khashoggi longed to return to Saudi Arabia, his daughters wrote on Friday.

They said that on the day he left the Gulf kingdom, he stood on the doorstep of his home, "wondering if he would ever return".

"Throughout all his trials and travels, he never abandoned hope for his country. Because, in truth, Dad was no dissident. If being a writer was ingrained in his identity, being a Saudi was part of that same grain," they wrote.

Since his killing last month, Khashoggi's daughters said the family has visited his home in the US state of Virginia, where he had been living in self-imposed exile.

"The hardest part was seeing his empty chair," they said, and "his absence was deafening".

This is a promise that his light will never fade, that his legacy will be preserved within us

- Noha Khashoggi and Razan Jamal Khashoggi

"As we looked at his belongings, we knew he had chosen to write so tirelessly in the hopes that when he did return to the kingdom, it might be a better place for him and all Saudis."

While Khashoggi's daughters said their column may read like a eulogy for their deceased father, they insisted it wasn't.

"Rather, this is a promise that his light will never fade, that his legacy will be preserved within us. Baba said it best: 'Some depart to remain,' which rings true today," they wrote.

"We feel blessed to have been raised with his moral compass, his respect for knowledge and truth, and his love.

"Until we meet again in the next life."