His family explained that he would be buried in Niha “so that his grave will serve as a cultural landmark for all Lebanese and all his admirers throughout the world.” The funeral is set to be held at St. Georges church in downtown Beirut on Monday. The family meanwhile continued to receive condolences at his Hazmieh residence in Beirut. Later on Sunday, President Michel Suleiman hailed via Twitter al-Safi’s long and prolific career, adding: “His death is a national loss for Lebanon’s heritage.”


BBC News

One of the pillars of Arab music, Wadih al-Safi, has died at the age of 92 in a hospital in Lebanon. The singer was at the forefront of a movement that made Lebanese music hugely popular in the region. Often referred to as the "voice of Lebanon", Mr Safi was one of the big names in what was seen as a golden age of Arab music.

Since his death was announced, many have paid tribute to what they describe as a musical legend. Mr Safi was with his son when he was taken ill on Friday, and later died in hospital.

‘Frank Sinatra of the Middle East’

A Christian, he first came to prominence in the late 1930s when he won a Lebanese singing contest. In subsequent decades, he contributed to a movement revitalising Lebanese music that saw it spread in influence across the Arab world. The BBC’s Sebastian Usher says Mr Safi’s stately, classical music – like his female equivalents, Fairouz and Sabah – gave Lebanese a sense of pride in their country as it was in danger of being torn apart during the civil war. With a catalogue of some 3,000 songs, Mr Safi was best known for creating a modernised form of folk music, but he also sang Lebanese and Arabic poetry. Hundreds have paid tribute to the singer and composer since his death was announced, with some dubbing him the Frank Sinatra of the Middle East. A union for Lebanese musicians has called on the authorities to declare a national day of mourning, the NNA news agency reports. Meanwhile, the office of President Michel Suleiman described Safi’s death as a "great loss for Lebanon’s folk music".