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Sami Makarem was born in Aitat in the district of Aley, Lebanon, on April 14, 1931. 
His father Sheikh Nassib Makarem is the author of artistic masterworks covering various types of Arab calligraphy. His mother Wassila Sleiman FARAJ, is a native of Abay, one of the villages of Aley district. She was known, like her husband, for her piety and refined art and produced needlework for which she obtained many awards, decorations and certificates that were added to her husband's awards, decorations and certificates. 
Sami Makarem completed his primary and intermediate education at the "Lycée Français de Beyrouth - Mission Laïque Française", and his secondary studies at the Lebanon College of Souk El Gharb, then studied at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where he obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Literature and Philosophy in 1954 and his Master's Degree in Arabic Literature in 1957. Meanwhile, he taught Arabic Literature at the Lebanon College of Souk El Gharb then at Al Sirat College in Aley. Then, he left for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he obtained in 1963 his PhD. in Middle Eastern Studies.