Khalil Mardam Bey, author of the Syrian National Anthem, pictured in 1950

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Khalil Mardam Bey (1895-1959) studied at the hands of private tutors in Damascus then went to the UK for graduate studies at the University of London. He was persecuted by the French when they occupied Syria in 1920, forcing him to take up residence in Cairo. He began writing poetry at a young age, and joined the Arab Language Assemblage, the highest authority in Arabic literature, and became its president for life. He served as cabinet minister under presidents Husni al-Zaim and Adib al-Shishakli, and as Syria’s ambassador to Iraq in 1951.