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Person of the Year

Person of the Year

Tuesday, 31 December, 2019 - 12:15
Samir Atallah
Lebanese author and journalist, who worked for the Annahar newspaper, the Al Osbo' il Arabi and Lebanon’s Al-Sayad’s magazines and Kuwait’s Al-Anba newspaper.

In 1927, the weekly magazine TIME launched its Person of the Year issue, where its writers would choose at the end of every year one person to be on its cover. This person would be someone they considered the most distinguished at the international level. They may be political, social, or scientific leaders. Sometimes they could be the subject of an important event that took place that year, and other times a person with a long history of achievements, the most important of which took place that year. It loosely resembles the Nobel Peace Prize given to someone like Nelson Mandela. It has also been given to engineers and architects.

Since TIME began this tradition, many newspapers and magazines around the world have followed suit, in different languages, regions and countries. Readers around the world now wait for the new year to find out who will be granted the award for the year that passed. At the end of this year, King Salman bin Abdulaziz hosted the 40th GCC Summit in Riyadh, opening the doors to his cities to everyone, announcing that the door will open to naturalization for whoever deserves it. This happened at a time when the entire world is heading towards closing its doors to immigrants.

The city that he had sponsored its expansion street by street, he continued to build as though he were new to the job. He did the same in every other Saudi city. In his five years as king, he consistently did the same good work. He maintained his relations with kind and humble people who are cautious about maintaining his friendship and goodwill. With regard to the Kingdom's foreign affairs, he gave persistence a new meaning and gave openness a new dimension. He protected the country from daily aggressions and made new international friendships and partners with Russia and China for example. He did not neglect his key role as a mediator between people for a moment and maintained his renowned ability to build bridges between neighboring and Islamic countries.

Twenty years ago, the TV channel Orbit said that he was well educated and that his work is a model and that his way of life a lesson. He would not let a single mistake, small or big, slip without accountability, and would not pass a day without forgiveness. His work in the principality was as organized as a Swiss clock: He was the first to come to work and the last to leave. He would read every complaint every day. In Riyadh, I would see a scene that was unmatched worldwide: The highest rank in the principality would sleep in his office to finish his work, or that the same prince would spend 43 days in his office without going home, as long as Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles were hitting Riyadh.

The Person of the Year, every year, is King Salman. The good and the difficult years. The years of persistence or construction, the years of luxury and progress, and the years of justice for all. A beautiful and glorious life, filled with good ethics. A thousand wishes for long life.

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