Makram Haddad: sport, the land of freedom

Related project

The Olympic flame continues its journey and has boarded the second-largest sailing vessel in France, the Belem, destination: Marseilles. We are also continuing our Olympic journey, with a profile of a journalist benefiting from the Paris Médias 2024 project: Makram Haddad. As the head of the sports department of the news site “Ici Beyrouth” (This is Beirut), the 55-year-old Lebanese journalist is able to write about what he chooses. For him, the perfect thing would be to forget all about the political divisions and the economic crisis for a moment, and to make others forget too.
Profile by Emmanuel de Solère Stintzy.


As a 55-year-old Lebanese journalist, my journalistic style, while rarely silky smooth, is recognisable. I use humour in my sports articles. Sometimes, I even take a few swings at politicians. Having taken part in numerous televised culture-based gameshows, I was one of the founding members of the “Questions pour un Champion” (Questions for a Champion) club in Lebanon. My writing includes a range of literary references, from Sartre to Musso, not to mention Franquin and his character Gaston Lagaffe.
I have a doctorate in pharmacy and I am now head of the sports department of the news site Ici Beyrouth (This is Beirut), after having managed this same department for twenty years (1998–2018) at the daily newspaper L'Orient–Le Jour. I am, I’m... Makram Haddad!

Audio file
Makram Haddad : "Le sport est un grand terrain de liberté..."

As he reads so much, even comics like Tintin, ‘Mak’ is able to use comparisons in his articles that make us laugh! He wants to draw our attention to new Lebanese sporting talent. This takes us away from our usual problems and encourages us to follow the Olympic Games!” explains his friend Lamis El Ghor, who, as a child, first watched him winning gameshows on TV before getting to know him at the faculty of pharmacy. “For me, sport is a release and an escape, a way to forget about our intense political atmosphere for a few hours... Readers appreciate the humour. They like that I add a bit of spice to my articles.” laughs Makram.

Protecting my independence

An example of this was provided on 4 August 2022, in his article entitled "Le basket au chevet du Liban" (Basketball standing vigil for Lebanon) (https://icibeyrouth.com/sport/107314), following a bruising historic final for his country in the FIBA Asia Cup, two years after the explosions at the port of Beirut that killed 234 people: “People say that in a country where the national symbol is the cedar tree, hope never dies. A bright spot can finally be seen on the horizon: could it be that the politicians have finally awakened from their collective coma? Not a chance! That bright spot has come from basketball.
When he takes up his pen, Makram Haddad breathes in the intoxicating aroma of freedom: “In Lebanon, as sports journalists, we do not face the same dangers as political journalists. However, even in sport, some clubs are run by different denominations. I ignore those influences to protect my independence.

The politicians have finally awakened from their collective coma? Not a chance! That bright spot has come from basketball.

“Mak” does not lack a sense of humour, but he does not mess about with the ethical principles of the profession, as Joseph Mezher, his former colleague at L’Orient-Le Jour, can testify: “He’s an honest man. He knows how to say ‘no’ to the leaders of federations who send us little gifts and then pressure us to publish world news that has nothing to do with sport.
However, Makram was a little late in coming to journalism: “My mother is a pharmacist. I went down the same route, because I had to study something... It was a compromise, compared to the long and arduous studies required for medicine.”

Makram Haddad in "Assises du journalisme de Tours" ©CFI

Extraordinary mental strength

And, finally, journalism came as a natural remedy for the pharmacy PhD holder: “As a child, I read all the time. I then took part in several TV shows and started writing for a weekly publication bought by L’Orient-Le Jour. During my trial period, an uncle said that one of my anonymous articles on a local basketball game was ‘fantastic’, without knowing that I wrote it.
Almost 30 years later, Makram Haddad does not seem jaded about this “magnificent reward of having one’s writing read.” He is planning to use it to its fullest in the upcoming coverage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris with CFI.

I completed my final year of pharmacy studies in a hospital ward with people with motor delays. I met heroes, with extraordinary mental strength. Paralympic athletes rise above their disabilities. We should have many more photos and articles to do them justice and make sure people know about them. Thanks to CFI, I will be working in a broader field and distributing my output more widely”, says “Mak” with clear impatience and eagerness.

In ten years…

Taking it easy as I watch my children grow!
Such could have been the daily life of Makram Haddad enjoying the early stages of retirement ten years from now. Unfortunately, that is a fanciful dream now, as it is for many Lebanese people since 2019 and the economic crisis... However, some of his nearest and dearest still try to predict his future. “In ten years, I can picture him as the editor-in-chief of a sports newspaper. Why not abroad? He has the capabilities and the expertise!” begins his former colleague Joseph Mezher.
His friend, the pharmacist Lamis El Ghor, continues: “‘Mak’ has always found a balance in his activities between pharmacy and journalism, but in ten years he will be writing a book about sports. That’s where his talents lie!
The real Makram Haddad appears to have been revealed, although his future work may provide more evidence: “I would actually like to write a book with a hint of humour about my history and the hostile day-to-day environment I face as a ‘pharmalist’...
It would appear that, without even trying, the “pharmacist-journalist”, who is accustomed to wordplay, has already found a fitting expression to start his book.