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Giant in Promoting Arab Identity and Culture, Habeeb Salloum, Passes

posted on: Dec 4, 2019

Giant in Promoting Arab Identity and Culture, Habeeb Salloum Passes
Habeeb Salloum

It is with deep regret that we inform you of the passing this morning of Arab America’s longest contributing writer, and prominent Arab Canadian, Habeeb Salloum; he was 95 years old.

“His passing is the end of an era,” said Arab America president, Warren David. “He was proud of his Arab heritage and through his writings, he somehow brought us all together and made us feel proud of our identity and culture.” He went on to say, “there may never be another Habeeb Salloum who can articulate with such passion, his love for a secular Arab identity.”

Habeeb Salloum wrote content which enhanced the Arab heritage. His scholarly articles regarding Arab culture and history, and cuisine were an integral part of our content since 2006–the year Arab America was established. Besides writing fourteen books and twenty chapters in books, he published at least two thousand articles about culture, food, travel, and history.

He was considered Canada’s foremost expert on Arab cuisine and Syrian immigration to Canada.

Until his passing, he was revising along with his daughters, Muna and Leila, a study of Spanish words of Arabic origin and the contributions of Arabic to the English vocabulary.

Giant in Promoting Arab Identity and Culture, Habeeb Salloum Passes
Habeeb Saloum with his daughters and collaborators, Leila and Muna.

During his extensive travels to the Arab world, he experienced the cuisine of most of the Arab countries and wrote numerous articles about each country’s food fare. Along with his writings on food, he focused many of his writings on Arab history and travel. His writings were especially passionate about the historic period when Arabs were in Spain and about contributions of the Arabic language on English and Spanish vocabularies.

He was the son of Syrian (Bilad al-Sham) immigrants who arrived from Qaraoun to Canada in the early 1920s and who homesteaded in the western prairies, in southwest Saskatchewan, hoping to establish a new life in a new land.

Habeeb’s Syrian/Arab origin and his life in Canada were a unique combination of East and West. This consumed Habeeb’s entire intellectual life and world view. By way of his published writings about the history of Arabs, and the early history of Syrian immigrants, Habeeb made original contributions to the fields of sociology, cultural ethnography, and acculturation.

This led him to be interviewed across Canada, the U.S. and internationally (BBC and CBC international), including a special documentary Aljazeera produced about Habeeb.

Our expressions of sympathy to his two loving daughters, Muna and Leila, his son-in-law Issam, grandchildren, Laith, Mazin, Jinaan, Shaadi and seven great-grandchildren. Habeeb was predeceased by his wife, Farida (Abourezk).

We at Arab America are proud of Habeeb Salloum’s contributions to the Arab identity and heritage and shall miss him dearly.

Funeral Arrangements

Habeeb Salloum’s most significant works include:

  • The Charm Unknown: A Translation of Iliya Abu Madi’s al-Talasim, Toronto, January 1976
  • Journeys Back to Arab Spain. Middle East Studies Centre. Toronto. 1994
  • From the Lands of Figs and Olives: Over 300 Delicious and Unusual Recipes from the Middle East and North Africa (co-author James Peters). Interlink Books: New York. 1995
  • Classic Vegetarian Cooking From the Middle East and North Africa. Interlink Publishing: New York. 2000
  • Arabic Contributions to the English Vocabulary: English words of Arabic origin: Etymology and History (co-author James Peters). Librarie du Liban Publishers: Beirut. 1996
  • Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina: Regina. 2005. This book won the Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph‘s Silver Canadian Culinary Book Awards in Winnipeg in 2006.
  • Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj – Delicious Homestyle Arabian Cooking. Tuttle Publishing: North Clarendon, VT. 2010
  • Bison Delights: Middle Eastern Cuisine, Western Style. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina: Regina. 2010
  • Scheherazade’s Feasts: Foods of the Medieval Arab World. (co-authors Leila Salloum Elias and Muna Salloum). University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia. 2013
  • Sweet Delights from A Thousand and One Nights: The Story of Traditional Arab Sweets. (co-authors Leila Salloum Elias and Muna Salloum). I.B. Tauris: London, UK. 2013
  • Asian Cooking Made Simple: A Culinary Journey along the Silk Road and Beyond. Sweet Grass Books/Far Country Press: Helena, MT. 2014
  • “Arab Cooking on a Prairie Homestead: Recipes and Recollections From a Syrian Pioneer”, University of Regina: Regina, 2017
  • The Scent of Pomegranates and Rosewater: Reviving the Beautiful Food Tradition of Syria. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, November 2018.
  • From the Land of Figs and Olives: Over 300 Delicious and Unusual Recipes from the Middle East and North Africa”. New York: Interlink Publishing (Revised and Edited), forthcoming



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