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Omar Muhammad Bey al-Daouk

Ras Beirut: January 1 1875 - November 4 1949

Omar Muhammad Bey al-Daouk (Omar) was a prominent Beiruti politician and wealthy tradesman, who was born in Ras Beirut, 1985. 

 

Early years 1875-1894

Omar grew up in Ras Beirut witnessing its gold trade and economic boom in the late 19th century. He attended  the Jesuit school in Ain-Tura, Mount Lebanon in his early years graduating around 1892. Omar's youth encompassed working within the family's  gold trade and metal casting business. He was involved later on in his career in franchising European companies in Beirut. 

Youth years 1895-1904

Now at the age of 27, the young Bey had held numerous social authorities within Beirut and Beirut Vilayet (the Ottoman Governorate of Beirut). In 1902, Omar was introduced as a member of the Makassed Islamic Charitable Society, a philanthropic organization which aimed to morally and financially accommodate the needs of poor Beirutis and citizens of the vilayet. In 1907, Omar Bey suggested instating a fund dedicated to teaching all of Beirut and Mount Lebanon's children. His initiative was to rival foreign institutes such as the American University of Beirut within Beirut Vilayet.

political years 1905-1913

1905 was a year were Omar rapidly rose within Makasseds hierarchy. In 1906, Omar was elected as a member of Beirut's municipal council. In 1908, subsequent to the Ottoman coup, the newly installed Ottoman regime suggested the appointment of Omar as the president of Beirut's municipality during early, this was not implemented. Hence, Omar was instead appointed as the auditor of Beirut's municipal council that year.  

In 1909 the second Ottoman coup spiraled Beirut into a political vacuum. Abdul Qadir al-Danna was dismissed as president of Beirut's municipality leaving behind no official successor. The resignation would result in the division of the city's local government into two de-facto authorities. On one end was the Western District (for Muslims) governed by Minah Ramadan, and on the other end was the Eastern District (for Christians) governed by Boutros Dagher. In 1912 Hüsayn Kassem was delegated as the new Wali of Beirut Vilayet. In 1913 Omar was elected as the president of the Makassed, where he enforced his agenda of prioritizing food and education. He was also elected as the president of Beirut's Chamber of Commerce.

World War I 1914-1918

In 1914 at the spark of World War I, Omar expanded Beirut's Chamber of Commerce in Beirut to leverage his power over Beirut's industrialization. The new council would be known as: Beirut's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This granted Omar the authority of controlling all of Beirut's industrial sector. As a result he was granted the chamber's presidency for the rest of his life. In 1915, Omar was appointed mayor of Beirut succeeding his predecessor, Ahmad Mukhtar Bayhum, who was dismissed by the Wali, Hüsayn Kassem. He would experience the constitutional mandate of the Ottoman Wali over a course of four years.

Omar's prominence within Beirut became paramount during the great famine of Mount Lebanon in 1915. As president of Beirut's municipal council, he subsidized food and provided it to whom would be able to collect it within Beirut's safer boarders. In 1918 nearing the end of World War I, Mount Lebanon was safer, this allowed Omar to provide its people food to survive the famine. The Great Famine of Mount Lebanon took the lives of 200,000 people. As a result Omar would later on subsidize education, teaching the people of Mount Lebanon basic craftsmanship necessary at that time to allow them to work in the industrial sector of Beirut Vilayet. 

political prominence 1919-1920

 Upon the end of World War I, the presence of the Ottomans in Beirut was illegitimate meaning that  authority of the Wali and his Mutasarrifates were obsolete. Omar received a message from Saeed al-Jazairi I of Damascus, who pleaded him to abolish the Ottoman presence in Beirut in order to establish a united free Arab government in Beirut that would be independent, yet bound by the same free Arab ideology as Damascus and Baghdad. Omar Bey consulted the Beiruti elite to avoid any conflation with the remains of the Ottoman authority. He then went on to consult the newly appointed Ottoman Wali of Beirut Ismaeel Hakki to withdraw his forces from Beirut and Mount Lebanon peacefully to lay ground for Beirut's imminent independence. Ismaeel Hakki debated with his Wali counterpart Hüsayn Kassem and decided to exit Beirut and Mount Lebanon on the first of October 1918. The Beirut Vilayet's treasury and protocols were left in the guardianship of its reigning mayor Omar . The treasury of Beirut Vilayet was not looted by anyone. Omar would then become the first and last President of the Arab State of Beirut until from October 1918 until fully devolving his power to the French Authorities in 1920, following the defeat of the Arabs to the Allies at the Battle of Maysalun.

powers under the french mandate 1921-1924

In 1921, with the remaining authority at hand, Omar called out for fairness among Muslims in the governmental roles of Greater Lebanon. Although Omar opposed the French mandate of 'now called' Greater Syria and Greater Lebanon, he was not exiled by the French, like his previous counterparts within the Beiruti elite. The French regarded Omar as a mending force and a one who is trustworthy among the remaining Muslim elite. For that he was rewarded by being appointed as a senate in the de-facto government of Greater Lebanon in 1922. Omar re-emerged as Beirut's president in 1924 only being a deputy to his French delegated counterpart.

Philanthropy and late career 1925-1949

The French further entrusted Omar in 1926 when he was appointed as a member of the council delegated with drafting Greater Lebanon's post Ottoman constitution, which would lay ground for the Republic of Lebanon in 1945. He is regarded as one of the 'fathers of the Lebanese Constitution'. He was permanently re-elected as the president of the Makassed Islamic Charity Association for the second time in 1933. During his remaining years he maximized his phiolathropic activity and helped as much as his capacity allowed.