Obituary: Sabah Kharrat Zouein (December 8, 1954 – June 5, 2014)

Sabah Kharrat Zouein, August 2013 at the CITL library in Arles

Sabah Kharrat Zouein, August 2013 at the CITL library in Arles

The OIB is saddened to learn of the untimely death of Sabah Kharrat Zouein, an outstanding Lebanese poetess and literary critic who succumbed to a serious illness in early June, at the age of fifty-nine. Sabah was a friend of the OIB since the late 1990s. Working as a literary and cinema critic for Beirut’s daily an-Nahār and widely praised for the innovative prose poetry of her book Al-Bait al-mā’il (1995), Sabah was first ‘discovered’ for the institute by former OIB director Angelika Neuwirth who invited her in 1997 to the OIB’s recital series “Portfolio – Beiruti authors read their favorite texts”. Her seminal lecture “The multi-dimensional body in writing: Eros, sin and death” was a highlight of the OIB’s international Symposium “Ghazal as a genre of world literature” in July 1999. Her essay “Passion de l’écriture” was published in the OIB’s Festschrift for John Donohue (From Baghdad to Beirut: Arab and Islamic Studies in honor of John J. Donohue s.j., ed. by Leslie Tramontini and Chibli Mallat, Beirut 2007, BTS, vol. 108). She contributed also to the institute’s research focus on “Modern Arab Poetry”, launched by former OIB research associate Arnim Heinemann, especially in the framework of the international poetry translation project “Verstransfer Beirut-Berlin” (2007) in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and the “Literaturwerkstatt Berlin”.

Humble and always ready to help, she was a goldmine of information for students of modern Arab literature who came to Beirut for field research. Her work and career are reviewed in two OIB related manuals: Agonie und Aufbruch: neue libanesische Prosa, ed. by Angelika Neuwirth and Andreas Pflitsch (Beirut: Dergham, 2000), and Crosshatching in global culture: A dictionary of modern Arab writers, ed. by John J. Donohue, SJ, and Leslie Tramontini (Beirut: OIB, 2004; BTS, vol. 101).

In 2005 she left an-Nahār and continued to work as a prolific free-lance literary critic, translator, and poetess. Facing many challenges in her professional life, but endowed with enormous energy, an exemplary working ethos, and an outstanding talent to feel and write in several languages, she was able to publish between 2006 and 2013, apart from her work as a translator, four new poetry books in Arabic and four anthologies of current Lebanese poetry in French, Spanish, and Arabic. Frequently invited to poetry events and public talks abroad and at home, she wrote, inter alia, for al-Quds al-‘Arabī (London), as-Safīr (Beirut), Nizwā (Oman), and had, from 2009-2013, a weekly column in al-Liwā’ (Beirut). Her last poetry book, ‘Indamā al-dhākira, wa indamā ‘atabāt ash-shams, illustrated by the Lebanese painter Amīn al-Bāshā, came out in November 2013, only a few weeks before her terminal illness prevented her from continuing her poetic ‘journey’ through life.

Her voice has now fallen silent, but her work will survive her. Those who had the chance to know her in person will remember her kindness, loyalty, humbleness, vast knowledge, and engaging curiosity. Those who had the chance to read and study her work will also deplore the loss of so many books, verses, and thoughts that now will remain unwritten.

Thomas Scheffler

Frank Walter Steinmeier zu Besuch am OIB

Außenminister Frank Walter Steinmeier und Stefan Leder, Direktor des Orient-Instituts Beirut

Außenminister Frank Walter Steinmeier und Stefan Leder, Direktor des Orient-Instituts Beirut

Der deutsche Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier und Mitglieder seiner Delegation sprachen am 30. Mai 2014 im Orient-Institut Beirut mit libanesischen Gästen über die desolate Lage in Syrien und ihre Auswirkungen auf den Libanon. Der Libanon war das erste Ziel auf Steinmeiers Reise durch Nahen Osten, die er am vergangenen Freitag antrat.

Die libanesischen Gesprächsteilnehmer machten sehr deutlich, dass konfessionelle Polarisierung, Gewalt und Angst das Zusammenleben zwischen Christen und Muslimen erschweren und gefährden würden. Christen sähen aber weiterhin ihre Heimat und Zukunft in der Region. Dass die religiöse und kulturelle Vielfalt im arabischen Osten dringend erhalten werden müsse, darüber waren sich alle Seiten einig. Die Zivilgesellschaft vor Ort und die internationale Gemeinschaft könnten gemeinsam dafür eintreten. Von libanesischer Seite hieß es, auf ein Einlenken der Konfliktparteien in Syrien könne man nicht hoffen, solange das Geschehen durch einen komplizierten Stellvertreterkrieg bestimmt sei. Für diesen müsse zunächst eine politische Lösung mit den in Syrien kriegführenden Staaten gefunden werden. Um politische Veränderungen anzustoßen, seien zivilgesellschaftliche Initiativen und Entwicklungen wichtig, die im Libanon, unter Beteiligung der geflohenen Syrer und vereinzelt weiterhin auch in Syrien selbst auf Verständigung hinarbeiten müssten.

Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, focused on the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Our research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with different and independent fields of focus. Through our globally operating institutes, we are able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and our host countries or regions. By promoting academic dialogue and merging academic and non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the internationalization of research.

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