Lebanese producer Sadeq Al Sabbah was awarded the National Order of The Cedar on Sunday.
Held at Beirut's Grand Serail, the ceremony was attended by politicians, artists, and media personalities.
The honor was ordered by President Michel Aoun. He was represented at the ceremony by Prime Minister Najib Mikati who hosted the event.
Al Sabbah arrived early to the Serail, before the launch of the ceremony at 6:00 pm. He was calm, smiling, and seemed a modest man proud of his remarkable achievements. He welcomed the guests, thanked those who congratulated him with flowers, and embraced his grandchildren expressing his happiness on the occasion.
The ceremony was led by poet and journalist Zahi Wehbi who said honoring a successful Lebanese figure warms the heart, especially since this initiative comes while Sabbah is in the peak of his success.
The event was inaugurated with a short film listing the producer’s best cinema and TV works, followed by several keynotes.
Among the attendees were Industry Minister George Boujikian, former prime minister Tammam Salam, Lebanese and Arabic artists including Elham Shahin, Rafic Ali Ahmad, Georges Khabbaz, Claudia Marshalian, Rola Beksmati, and Adel Karam.
“His name tells so much about him. He is honest (Sadeq in Arabic means honest) in his work, honest in his productions, and honest with his country. We worked together several times, and I felt how honest he is to this country. He has made Beirut the capital of drama series. His persistence impressed us and made us proud,” Mikati said in his keynote.
“Every day, we look at you, waiting for more successful productions,” he said.
After the ceremony, responding to a question by Asharq Al-Awsat on whether he watches Lebanese drama, Mikati said: “Of course, I do and I know the names of all the stars.” Then he turned to his wife and asked her about the name of the series they plan to watch soon, she said: “The Rain Dance,” which is a Sabbah production.
Boujikian addressed a keynote in which he said: “Who among us doesn’t remember ‘Al Hayba’ series, and the millions of viewers who waited in front of their TVs for more episodes. How can Lebanon, the state, and the people not honor Sadeq Al Sabbah, who despite all the difficult circumstances, kept his studios operating in Lebanon, offering opportunities to many actors and actresses, and widening the horizons to welcome more talents from the Arab world as part of his global, Arabic vision.”
“It’s hard for me to express my thoughts and emotions, but I am so happy, not only for the medal that I respect and honor, but for accomplishing the goal I inherited from my family, grandfather, and father. I am from Nabatieh, a city of culture, light, knowledge, and scientists like Hassan Kamel Al Sabbah. I belong to a southern Arabic city, to an Arabic family proud of its roots that built a wide, regional network of fraternal and familial connections,” Sabbah said after he received the medal which he has dedicated to Lebanon.
“My goal was to be proud of my country and make my country proud of me even in the most challenging circumstances. Now, I see this goal is accomplished, and I hope to see Lebanon recovered and back to its Arabic entourage like it was and it is supposed to be. These exceptional situations will end despite the compelling circumstances,” he added.
Commenting on this tribute, Sadeq’s daughter and his partner Lama Al Sabbah, said: “I believe this honor is a reward to my father’s long successful journey. I am happy his country considered celebrating him.”
Elham Shahin described Sadeq Al Sabbah as a close friend and a person she respects and appreciates. “He’s a unique producer in this industry. He is professional and knows what he’s doing, and who to choose for every work. He’s a producer and an artist with a fine artistic sense who managed to make great works,” she told Asharq Al-Awsat.