Lebanon's ‘Assayad’ publisher and the end of an era

Radwan al-Sayed
Radwan al-Sayed
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When Dar Assayad announced suspending its publications, including Al-Anwar newspaper and Assayad Magazine, I felt really sad. I haven’t been a reader of Dar Assyad publications for a while except for the articles of Rafiq Khoury in Al-Anwar.

However, for the 70s generation, Al-Anwar was considered Gamal Abdel Nasser’s newspaper. It is reminiscent of the union between Egypt and Syria. The daily and the magazine followed up on the efforts of the late great Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in founding the UAE and on the establishment of the united Yemeni state in 1990. It was an Arab era that is full of moments of pride and happiness and the worries of despair and disappointments. It was the era of the Arab dream, hopes and horizons even if mixed up with defeats.

Did Dar Assayad close because the Arab dream has ended? The technical reason for closing is that the time for paper printing and publication is over. This has affected major magazines and newspapers around the world, and it’s something that cannot be ignored because its repercussions can be seen everywhere. It’s the era of “social media”, and even satellite channels are heavily impacted.

It is not just paper publications that face extinction, but also the political times that Al-Anwar covered and stood for. Thus suspending Dar Assayad publications did not cause any sadness, but it actually was reminder of past grief

Radwan al-Sayed

Extinction of paper publications

Paper publications depend on advertisements so why would businessmen publish an advertisement in a paper that no one reads? Lebanese newspapers, which are private dailies that are not funded by the government and that rarely benefit from official advertisements, received what was known as political money.

The money was offered by parties that wanted to promote the opinion of the concerned newspaper and that wanted to get closer to a specific audience which supports this newspaper’s viewpoints or ideology. The time of paper publications is about to come to an end, and the Arab or Arabist movement which Assayad publications adopted has actually ended. There are no longer people buying this newspaper or advertising in it since it humors a movement that no longer exists or that’s no longer active at least in Lebanon.

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It is not just paper publications that face extinction, but also the political times that Al-Anwar covered and stood for. Thus suspending Dar Assayad publications did not cause any sadness, but it actually reminded of past grief, the end of the second Arab era. The first Arab era came with the end of Western colonialism while the second Arab era was the time of building nation states. Since individuals die and nations do not, we are waiting for the third and fourth Arab eras, though the indicators and signs of them rising are not clear yet.

My generation had another reason for grief. Due to the old prestigious Egyptian and Lebanese press, we have several distinguished journalists. Most of them crossed the ages of 70 and 80 years. Each one of them is famous for at least one unforgettable article, report, opinion or analysis. Each one of them wrote more than one book.

No one should think that these books were made up of a collection of articles written by the writer. These are mostly books or novels that contain a lot of creativity and profundity. Every one of us can tell the distinction between a real writer and journalist and an unprofessional one.

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Usually the unoriginal owners of newspapers turn into businessmen or politicians, while real journalists stick to daily or weekly writings throughout their lives. All of us know 20 or more journalists in Egypt and Lebanon who have preserved their work in this difficult enlightening career for decades. We do not want those to die because they had to stop writing. If any one of us dies, he dies alone, but the real or worse death happens when you witness your friends dying, either by death or due to the end of an era.

Famous poet Jarir ibn Atiyah once stood outside the door of Omar bin Abd al-Aziz but was refused entry. When he saw an orator enter, he said: “O man with the loose turban! This is your time, since my time has been left out.”

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This article is also available in Arabic.


Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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