A Trifecta of Awards for Manal Saab
By Ghana Harb Conord
May 21, 2023
Manal Saab receives the Lebanese Order of Merit Medal from Wael Hachem
Manal and Ghassan Saab at the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, DC
The Lebanese Order of Merit Medal (Silver)
Amir Baz, Zeina Fares, Wael Hachem, Manal Saab, Ghassan Saab, and Nijad Fares at the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, DC
At the awards ceremony in Ellis Island
Manal Saab, flanked by her family in Ellis Island, New York
For centuries, the Lebanese diaspora has played a big role in bridging Lebanon with the world, having increasingly become a significant player in the international cultural, commercial, and political arena. One of the members of the Lebanese diaspora is Manal Saab, a Lebanese American who takes every opportunity to help Lebanon and everything Lebanese.
For decades, Saab dedicated her time and efforts to serve numerous charitable and non-profit organizations that benefit both the United States and Lebanon. Among these organizations is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, founded by fellow Lebanese American Danny Thomas. Saab found a great sense of purpose with St. Jude, becoming a passionate supporter and dedicating many years to serve its mission to cure pediatric cancer. She was instrumental in growing the budget and the reach of the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), the fundraising and advocacy arm for St. Jude, which grew from $52 million to over $1.5 billion budget during her years there while also establishing 70 international partnerships around the world.
But that’s not all. Saab’s love for Lebanon is evident through the endless energy and strong commitment she has to a myriad of other causes that are dear to her heart. These include the Lebanese American University, the René Moawad Foundation, the National Arab Orchestra, and Takreem USA, among others.
Today, Saab continues to leave her mark by making a difference in the world. Following the massive explosion in the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 that ripped through Lebanon's capital, killing 218 people, injuring 7,000 and leaving 300,000 people displaced, Saab and her daughter, Rashal Baz Zureikat, created the Lebanon Relief Project. The mother-daughter initiative was quick to set up a network across the US with people connected to the health and medical industry. It also rallied an impressive group of people to the cause and worked in partnership with many Lebanese Americans as well as the American Task Force on Lebanon – a leading organization of influential Lebanese Americans that work tirelessly to assist Lebanon. Through these efforts Saab was able to send over $50 million worth of badly needed medications and medical supplies to Lebanon, making it one of the largest aids to reach the country.
Saab’s efforts and actions have not gone unnoticed. This month, she received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented annually to those who have shown an outstanding commitment to serving the United States either professionally, culturally, or civically.
On May 17th, she was decorated with the Lebanese Order of Merit Medal (Silver) during a celebration ceremony held at the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, DC. The medal was delivered to her by former Lebanese President, General Michel Aoun.
Receiving the medal, Saab said: “We come to the blessed shores of the United States struggling to claim a stitch or two of the great fabric that makes up American society. And with each stitch we build a bridge back to Lebanon. Perhaps because we leave Lebanon with our feet only, or perhaps because we have an obligation to our roots and our Lebanese family and friends. Whatever the reason, one thing for certain, as Lebanon fell in its darkest years, it was you in the diaspora that preserved its dignity.”
But the accolades didn’t stop there. On May 18th, Saab and her husband, Ghassan, were both celebrated for their distinguished services. The couple received the Issam Fares International Leadership award from the American Task Force on Lebanon during a ceremony that gathered both Lebanese and American officials, diplomats, and business leaders.