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Dubai: A Gulf News report that blew the lid off a multi-million dollar job racket has been ranked among the best investigative stories published in the MENA region in 2019.

Features Editor (Special Reports) Mazhar Farooqui’s story made it to the Global Investigative Journalism Network’s (GIJN) list of best Investigative Stories, released on Wednesday.

“Democracy and the truth suffered under sustained attack in 2019, yet investigative journalists stayed the course, fighting back with stories exposing wrongdoing and abuses of power,” said GIJN which got its editors to curate the best investigative works from their region.

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Gulf News journalist Mazhar Farooqui Image Credit: Gulf News archive

GIJN’s Arabic Editor Majdolin Hasan, who was tasked with the job of selecting investigative stories published in the Middle East and Northern Africa, picked the January 2019 Gulf News report, which uncovered how the India-based job portal Wisdom Jobs, with 33 million registered users, had been using in-house call centre agents to impersonate recruitment managers of top companies to offer non-existent jobs.

Within days of the exposé, the Indian police launched a crackdown on the company and arrested its CEO and 13 other staff members. They were charged with collecting millions of dollars for service fees from over 100,000 job seekers worldwide.

“Investigative reporters in the Middle East and Northern Africa operate in a region that UNESCO says is the world’s most dangerous for journalists, making it extremely difficult for them to do their jobs,” said Majdolin Hasan adding that the list is in honour of journalists who continue their work despite extreme challenges