Dubai: Patrick Seale, a leading authority on Middle East affairs and a Gulf News columnist, has died following a battle with brain cancer.

Seale, whose books included “Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East” and “Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire,” was 84.

In a tweet late Friday night, American author and professor Joshua Stacher (@jstacher) posted: “Patrick Seale has passed. While Asad was a bestseller, The Struggle for Syria was a masterpiece. Learned tons from him and his work. RIP”.

Born in Belfast in Northern Ireland, Seale was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and did post-graduate research at St. Antony's College in Oxford, where he specialised in Middle Eastern history. His father was the Arabist and theologian Morris S. Seale (1896–1993).

A former correspondent for The Observer, Seale interviewed many of the Middle East’s most prominent leaders and personalities. His latest book was “The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad El-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East”.

Revealing details about Seale’s illness earlier this year, his son-in-law Matthew Jeary wrote in an online post: “Last summer, my father-in-law was diagnosed with a brain tumour. [At] 83, he decided to risk an operation to try and remove it, he’s from a generation of doers and survivors. The surgery went well but the surgeons couldn’t get it all out and in June he was given 6 months to live...”

“Now though it’s pretty much over and the original tumour has regrown and been joined by another. Only a couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with him and despite being greatly diminished he still had a twinkle in his eye and the ability to raise an eyebrow at a pretty waitress. The cancer has ravaged his great brain and his body, that until recently had defied age. He has to the end been the most polite, generous and charming dying person I have ever met. Now he is in the palliative care stage of things and there’s no coming back and beating the odds.”

His columns for Gulf News discussed issues ranging from the best possible solution for Syrian crisis to how Israel manipulates US policy and (written last April) whether Washington would be able to negotiate a deal with Iran.

Read Patrick Seale’s columns for Gulf News