George Said



  • George Said was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents. His parents grew up and married in Constantinople (currently known as Istanbul). George’s father had Maltese ancestors and through them, they retained the surname ‘Said’ and they remained British Subjects.

    George spoke Greek with his family and Arabic on the streets of Egypt. He went to an English School and learnt French because it was the commercial and international language in Egypt. He studied and graduated from an Italian Technical College with a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.

    He worked for the British army in the Suez Canal Zone but it kept him away from his family and friends. Eventually he became a trade instructor at a Greek Technical School in Cairo.

    During the Suez crisis in 1956, Britain invaded parts of Egypt and George was put under house arrest together with his wife and his baby daughter. His assets were confiscated and expelled from Egypt. George and his family landed in London airport in December that year as refugees with no money at all.

    During his stay for six years in Britain, he worked as a toolmaker because employers did not want to recognise George’s qualification as an engineer. When George applied to come to Australia, the Australian authorities also did not accept George’s qualification nor did they accept him as a toolmaker because he had not served an apprentiship!

    Arriving in Australia in 1962, George initially worked as a toolmaker then a production supervisor for a large manufacturer, an inventory controller, production controller and factory manager. With his knowledge of five languages, he decided to leave engineering and became a Community Development Officer for a municipal council. Later he became a Consultant in Ethnic Relations in Organisation Development for an Australian company. His job was industrial relations specifically to do with their ethnic workforce. During this time, in 1980, George gained a Churchill Fellowship to study experiential workshops and to study management of multicultural workforces in Britain, Canada and the USA.

    George ran his own company for a few years before retiring. He is very active with his voluntary work. He is involved with teaching people in the use of computers, acts as a resource person to the Greek Community in his municipality, produces and distributes regular newsletters to 527 homes in his neighbourhood on sustainable living, runs projects for his local community as well as a yearly Christmas party for the children. He is on the committee of the local University of the Third Age.  He writes regularly to newspapers on issues that concern him. His current new activity is to faciltate his local Community Centre to put on an Exhibition of Greek Culture in the near future.

    George can trace his family history to royalty as far back as the year 1448. See the Imperial Connection of ‘Said’. Note the name was ‘Sayd’ up to the time that the French removed the ‘Y’ from their alphabet and replaced it with ‘I’. George is a member of the Australian Republican Movement. His second daughter, who was born in England, is writing a book about George and his family, their experiences as immigrants for several generations.

    "Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way." 

    ~ Ralph Crawshaw

Articles written by George Said (5)