Said Saab - born in Aley, Lebanon - journalist & editor

Said Saab

Journalist-Editor

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The veteran journalist and editor, Said Saab, was born in Aley in 1928.

He was considered one of Lebanon’s most masterful penmen of his era, and was honored posthumously with the distinguished medal – Knight, National Order of the Cedar – after his passing on 21 March, 2003.

He was also an active member and staunch supporter of the SSNP – Syrian Social Nationalist Party (which included many other writers and intellectuals from the region – such as Aley’s Adeeb Hadded (Abu Melhem) and Mohammed Al-Aridi, of Baissour.

During his years of expatriation in Brazil, Said Saab held the responsibility of the Radio and Media Superintendent in the Brazilian SSNP outlet, in addition to many other media roles.

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Talal Salman (1938-2023), the veteran journalist, founder and publisher of the iconic As Safir newspaper in Lebanon, enjoyed a long and close friendship with Said Saab, spanning some 40 years.

In 2017, he penned this insightful tribute to his comrade and colleague, whose presence still remained strong in his heart and mind, so many years after his passing:

“Among those with whom you lived or were accustomed to being present, there is someone who is difficult for you to forget, no matter how long the absence.

“Of these, among those I knew, was Said Saab, the international traveller, son of Aley, descended from the Shmait family, who was born and lived his childhood and early youth, in Latin America.

“When you say ‘Said Saab’, you are talking about the joy of life, the love of life, with the good things among its people, women and men, and the good things with its pleasures, that is drink, then drink, then drink, and the joy of working before extinguishing and mastering your work, and of getting lost from your home and being led to it by its smell.

“A loyal friend to whoever decides to be friends with him, seeking to avoid heavyweights and doubters, educated to the core, a journalist by method as well as by practice, a dangerous intellectual in his four languages, who knows half the world, and has tried a thousand bars and nightclubs.

“Said Saab worked in many newspapers. We met, for the first time, in ‘Al-Kifah,’ ‘Al-Ahad’ magazine, then briefly in ‘Al-Youm’ newspaper, then after that and until the last day in ‘As-Safir’.

“You could have assigned him Arabic, international, local, opinion pages, and culture, to write with knowledge on any topic, and kidnap your friends from you and then invite you with them … to pay. Before marriage, he refused to receive his salary in one lump sum, preferring to receive it day by day, so as not to spend it in one evening, or in one day in excess.

“Said Saab finally found a virtuous woman who was patient with his moods, took into account his feelings, and alerted him to his work schedules and the topics he promised to write.

“On the first day of the spring of 2003, after Valentine’s Day and the eve of Mother’s Day, Said Saab passed away, and with this honorable traveller, absent were the nights of sociability, the spontaneous parties that gathered in his company, and the daily demand of one-thirtieth of his salary … with mezze.

“May God have mercy on the lover of life to the point of intoxication, Said Saab.”

Talal Salman - journalist, editor, publisher - As Safir
TALAL SALMAN - JOURNALIST, EDITOR, PUBLISHER - AS SAFIR
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The passing of Said Saab on 21 March 2003 was reported by news outlets across Lebanon, his funeral was attended by media and political delegates from around the country.

Journalists, editors and intellectuals mourned a great writer and good friend. Many wrote of his outstanding achievements – most notably Talal Salman, Izzat Safi, Ghaseb Al-Mukhtar, Zuhair Hawari and Najib Al-Baini.

The Druze Community House in Beirut witnessed the influx of dozens of political figures. The social, municipal, military and media outlets extended their condolences.

 

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On 22 March, 2003, As-Safir newspaper publisher Talal Salman wrote this tribute:

“Yesterday, Friday, As-Safir lost one of its senior journalists: Said Saab, editor of its ‘opinion page’.

Said Saab, who accompanied ‘As-Safir’ for almost its entire life, bid farewell to her at the threshold of her thirtieth year, and he was absent from his office, which he was not absent from throughout the ages of civil/Arab/international wars. He was missed by his companions who saw in him – professionally – an excellent model of precision, honesty, and sincerity in work. In addition to being – on the human level – a brother – colleague – friend to all his comrades working at As-Safir – writers, editors, technicians, receptionists, and printing workers.

“Yesterday, on the bleak morning when the American hegemony began its war on Iraq, Said Saab closed his eyes to his pain, and went to the Supreme Comrade, satisfied and at peace.”

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The Press and Editors Syndicate issued this joint statement:

“He is one of the veteran journalists who performed great services for the profession and its people and were at the forefront of the fighters for freedom and liberation. The great deceased was one of those who enjoyed a broad culture focused on extensive knowledge of the French, English and Portuguese languages, in addition to his proficiency and mastery of Arabic.

“Said Saab was one of the most prominent workers in the party’s press, and during his long career he moved between a number of major newspapers, Sada Lebanon, Al-Siyasa, Al-Youm, Al-Kifah, Al-Ahad Al-Jadeed, Al-Nahar, Al-Binaa, and Al-Safir.”

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Participating in the funeral was the representative of the President of the Republic of Lebanon; the District Attorney of Aley, Joseph Hobeish; the representative of the Speaker of the House of Representatives; colleague Arafat Hegazy; the representative of the Prime Minister, Marouf al-Daouk; Minister Pierre Helou; MPs Akram Chehayeb and Ali Ammar; the President of the Lebanese-Syrian Supreme Council, Nasri Al-Khoury; and the head of the National Party, Gebran Araiji. Others included his deputy, Mahmoud Abdel Khalek, and a number of members of the leadership; former MP Antoun Al Hitti; representative of the head of the Lebanese Democratic Party, Minister Talal Arslan; head of the Aley district in the party, Major General Jaber; mayor of Aley, Wajdi Mrad; and the city’s political, union, party, and educational activists. The funeral was also witnessed by colleagues of the late Said Saab.

 

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The Editors’ Syndicate Advisor, Kamal Fadlallah, and the Dean of Radio, Secretary Tawfiq Muhanna, spoke on the occasion, after which Said Saab was laid to rest in the cemetery of the city of Aley.

From the speech of the Dean of Radio at the time, Secretary Tawfiq Muhanna:

“We place his body in the grave … and in the heart, conscience and memory he lives …

“He lives as a self-made person, with commitment, behavior and giving.

“He lives as a brilliant and distinguished journalist. His mind, pen, and culture occupied wide spaces in major newspapers, and he was one of the figures of the Lebanese press, in addition to his distinguished position – as an intellectual – committed to our national party press, in which he not only wrote, but also enriched it with a distinguished professional experience, which provided income for many of us, and I am one of them …

“He was the owner of a free pen … He did not stand at the door of an unjust sultan, nor at the door of an embassy, or at the door of an unjust capitalist. He did not compromise on the convictions he held … nor did he follow the waves of cultures of frustration and despair, out of consideration for the circumstances …

“He remained a distinguished intellectual in the era of globalization and its misleading slogans about human rights, democracy, and pluralism, which are often used these days by those carrying paid pens, who preach it in a meeting. A handful of money thrown from an embassy, or from a complicit ruler…

“He lived as a dogmatic person who believed in a cause equal to his existence until the last breath. As a Renaissance man, he rose in the purity of his thought, the transparency of his conscience, and the culture of his soul to the heights of the ideal society, where value, all value, belongs to the human being who believes in the message of monotheism, which believes in one God who has no partner, and believes in a single society that is not divided against itself, neither on religious, racial, tribal, nor religious grounds. My being is closed …

“For the sake of a better life and a bright future, Comrade Said capitalizes on the values of truth, goodness and beauty … so that our country returns to being a source of civilizational radiance and a guiding beacon for nations … “

TOUFIC MEHANNA - DEAN OF RADIO
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Following his funeral on 23 March, 2003, this moving tribute to Said Saab was published the following day by As Safir newspaper:

“The family of  ‘As Safir’, the city of Aley, the Press and Editors Syndicates and the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party bid farewell to the late colleague Said Saab Shmait yesterday.

“The funeral that was held in the hall of the Social Resala Society resembled Said. The funeral was as family as it was official, as professional as it was party. It was raining heavily during the ceremony, in which everyone was Said’s family. Said’s family suddenly grew and grew from among the grains of winter, as if sending him and his lifelong companion a message of love from a time of sadness at the moment of his unfortunate departure.”

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On the anniversary of the 40 days absence of Said Saab Shmait, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the Editors’ Syndicate, As-Safir newspaper and Al Saab Shmait family held a commemoration ceremony in the hall of the Social Resala Society in Aley.

Senior officials were at the forefront of attendance, as reported by  “Al-Binaa – Good Morning” magazine:

Rafiq Shalala, representing the President of the Republic, General Emile Lahoud, and Arafat Hegazy, representing Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and the Governor of Aley, Joseph Hobeish, representing Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and the two former ministers, MPs Akram Chehayeb and Fouad Al-Saad, Captain Melhem Karam, the publisher of the Al-Safir newspaper, Talal Salman, mayors and governors of Aley and its neighbourhood, and representatives.

The commemoration began with an introductory speech by Wael Saab. The head of the Syndicate of Editors, Melhem Karam, Talal Salman, MP Akram Chehayeb, and Gibran Araiji, also spoke.

Salim Masoud Shamit spoke on behalf of the family.

Advisor to the President of the Republic, Rafik Shalala, delivered a speech in which he said:

“His Excellency the President of the Republic, General Emile Lahoud, assigned me, and I was honored, to represent him today at this ceremony held in memory of our great colleague Said Saab Shmait, who passed away from among us, after a lifetime spent in the service of the word, freedom and truth.

“Perhaps the distinguished professional legacy left by the late great man will make him always present with us, and his memory will be eternal in the souls of his family, colleagues, readers, and admirers.

“This honor today, and what was said about him and in it, is nothing but evidence of the great intellectual and media value that Said Saab Shmait represented, which we miss whenever we want to read, analyze and educate.

“In appreciation of the late great’s contributions, his distinguished media presence, and the intellectual value that characterized his writings, His Excellency the President of the Republic, General Emile Lahoud, decided to award him the National Cedar Medal, with the rank of Knight.

“I am honored to hand this over today to his honorable family as a token of Lebanon’s loyalty towards one of its prominent figures.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Shalala handed the medal to Said Saab’s wife, Salima Jaber Saab.

RAFIK SHALALA
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The Syrian Social Nationalist Party mourned the passing of Said Saab, and the following tribute was published in the May 1, 2003 issue of “Al-Binaa – Good Morning” magazine:

“The party mourns one of its members, the journalist Said Saab, who is considered one of the prominent pillars of the Lebanese press, in addition to his work in the main media outlets in Lebanon. The late man had a constant presence in the party’s magazines, “Al-Binaa” and “Sabah Al-Khair,” where he enriched them with analytical “political articles dealing with political issues – national, Arab and international.

“He is one of the journalists committed to the national cause. He deeply believed in its Syrian nationalist and social principles. He was always present and responded to everything that was asked of him. During his years of expatriation in Brazil, he held the responsibility of the Radio and Media Superintendent in the Brazilian outlet, in addition to various media responsibilities in the party.

“With the passing of Comrade Said Saab, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party misses a nationalist fighter who has always addressed societal issues with his pen. Said Saab left with his eyes on Iraq and Palestine.”

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