Yusif Sayigh (1916-2004) was a Palestinian nationalist, an Arab nationalist and one of the most influential exponents of Palestinian and Arab planning and development. He entered the national scene just after World War II as the primary organizer of a fund to raise money through taxes and tolls to buy up land threatened by Jewish purchase. Then, after a brief period as an Israeli prisoner of war (1948-1949), he took Syrian nationality, moved to Beirut where he met his wonderful wife, Rosemary, obtained a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, later published as Entrepreneurs of Lebanon (1962), and joined the staff of the American University in Beirut. His growing reputation as a development economist also led him onto a number of international and Arab commissions, including the beginnings of his long association with the Kuwait Fund.

Like many Palestinian professionals, Yusif was soon drawn back into national politics, becoming a member of the Palestinian National Council in 1966 and one of its chief economic planners after 1967, signaled by his role in the establishment of the Planning Center in Beirut. The 1970s saw him move back to the Arab sphere again with a series of books, The Economies of the Arab World (1978), The Arab Economy (1982) and Arab Oil Policies (1983), which reflected his concern with the creation of a structure for Arab economic integration based on the exchange of oil revenues for skilled labor, culminating in an action plan presented at the Arab Economic Summit in Amman in 1980. The reasons for its lack of success were recorded sadly and wisely in a paper presented at a Georgetown University symposium in April 1992.

My own long memories of Yusif are of a determined servant of the Palestinian cause who rode its various waves of enthusiasm and disillusion with the same measured optimism and quiet dignity that he brought to his family and academic life. He will be sorely missed.

How to cite this article:

Roger Owen "Yusif Sayigh," Middle East Report 232 (Fall 2004).

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