Damascus, Modern scientific restoration in Syria owes many national academic intellectual figures, on top of them, the Damascene doctor Rida Saed (1876 -1945).
Saed, who was the founder of the Arab Health Institute and the first president of the Syrian University, was one of the first ophthalmologists in Damascus, and in addition to his work in several foreign capital cities, he chaired the medical department at al-Hijaz Railway as he was responsible for the health of tens of thousands of passengers who were travelling by this route.
After liberating Syria form the Ottoman Occupation, Saed chaired the mini-committee of the Syrian doctors for opening the Arab Health Institute in Baramka area in 1919 in addition to Arabization of the curricula used in it in cooperation with national and intellectual figures.
When Saed was a Dean of the Arab Health Institute, he looked for Syrian doctors to teach the students who later supervised nearly about 40 students in the first year of the institution.
Saed took part in the battle against the French occupation that sought to close the institution and refused to recognize its certificate, but at the end he had what he wanted.
The Arab Health Institution wasn’t only an educational establishment, but it also contained the young revolutionaries rejecting the occupation and the ill-fated Balfour Declaration as they took to the streets in many protests with confidence as Saed refused the mandate authorities’ demands to prevent those youths from their study.
When the institution was integrated with the college of Law in June 1923 under the name of the Syrian University, Saed was the first Rector of it and during his position, it witnessed many achievements such as opening the building of Damascus University Presidency and its amphitheater who was named after him in addition to establishing a press for the university to issue the scientific magazines and opening a new scientific specializations as well as encouraging the sport and artistic talents of students and receiving girl students for the first time.
Saed, who served as Minister of Education between 1924 and 1925, refused closing the university when Damascus came under shelling by the barbaric French occupation in 1925, saying to students “the more you learn the more they fear you, so go to your lessons and exceed in them as this is itself a challenge to the occupation and its projects in our country”
Throughout his career, Saed won many honors, of which the Syrian Order of Merit, of excellent degree, and other orders from Egypt, Austria and France.
Source: Syria Arab News Agency