The official Syrian Arab News Agency said: "Syria and the Arab world lost a giant today," adding that Maghout had died after a long illness.

Al-Maghout's work combined satire with descriptions of social misery and malaise, illustrating what he viewed as an ethical decline among rulers in the region.

He teamed up with Syrian actors Dureid Laham and Nihad Qali to produce some of the region's most popular and acclaimed theatrical works, such as Exile.

"Policemen, Interpol men everywhere; you search for the perfect crime," al-Maghout wrote in one of his poems. "There is only one perfect crime; to be born an Arab."