On October 16, 2014, prominent Palestinian businessman Saeed Khoury, founder of one of the largest contractors companies in the Arab world, passed away in Athens, Greece at the age of 91.
Khoury was born in Safad, a town inside the Palestinian Green Line, in 1923. He immigrated to Lebanon following the Nakba of 1948 where he founded, along with his cousin Hasib Sabbagh, the Consolidated Contractors Company [CCC], which became the leading contracting company in the Arab world and ranked 14th globally.
With its headquarters in Greece, CCC includes 80,000 employees and has carried out dozens of major projects in most Arab countries, including the construction of airports, roads, bridges, oil, fuel plants and pipelines. The company also has several projects in Palestine including the power generator in the Gaza Strip, Solomonís Pools and the Cultural Palace in Bethlehem in addition to being a developing partner for the Palestinian gas fields off of Gazaís shore along with British Gas.
His relationship with MIFTAH
Khoury held several senior positions including: head of MIFTAHís board of trustees. He was a member of the board until the day he died and one of its greatest supporters.
Khoury was one of MIFTAHís most prominent founders upon its establishment in 1998. He played an important role in the founding committee alongside Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Secretary General of MIFTAH at the time. He offered unlimited financial and moral support to the organization and promoted MIFTAHís neutrality in terms of external funding. He was a generous donator and a huge supporter of several Palestinian organizations and institutions, including MIFTAH. Khoury was unique in that he empowered and strengthened Palestinian institutions through which he encouraged the Palestinian people to endure and remain steadfast. These efforts including allocating a large part of his investments and business in the service of the Palestinian economy.
Posts held by Khoury
Khoury held several Arab and international posts including head of the Arab Monetary Fund, President of the Palestinian Businessmenís Board of Directors, Head of the board of directors for the Palestinian Electric Company in Gaza, member of the board of trustees for the Palestinian Studies Institute in Beirut, member of the board of trustees at the Bethlehem Institute in Washington DC, head of the board of trustees at the Bethlehem Development Institute, member of the board of trustees of the Greek Orthodox Diocese to Europe and honorary member of the Aspen Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Washington. He also ranked ninth in the list of wealthy Arabs according to the Arabian Prince magazine in 2012, with a fortune of $7.2 billion.
Khoury also had a long history with Birzeit University, offering it both financial and moral support. He donated funds for the construction of the ďSaeed Khoury building for development studiesĒ, which was opened in June 2009.
In 2010, Birzeit University granted Khoury an honorary PhD in appreciation for his important economic and national role at the Palestinian, Arab and international levels, for his continued support for Palestinian institutions and his efforts towards the development of Palestine in general.
The life and times of the late Khoury
Khoury began his formal education in Safad before attending college in Alexandria, Egypt. He then enrolled in the American University of Beirut to continue his studies in engineering. Then the 1948 war broke out, which resulted in the separation of Khouryís family and the collapse of the familyís economic structure. This hailed in a new era of suffering, pain and exile for them.
The Khoury family immigrated to Beirut, Lebanon where Khoury lived for over a year looking for work. For nine months, he worked at the electricity generator in the Syrian desert and later participated in the building of the Qleiíat airport near Tripoli along with Hasib Sabbagh and Fahmi Karakola. Later he moved to the Syrian desert and worked as a contractor for the American company Bechtel. He eventually ended up in Kuwait where his company, CCC scored most of its success after its establishment in Beirut in 1952.
Founder of the Welfare Association
Khoury played a pivotal role in founding the Welfare Association, which supports and funds projects inside of Palestine and in the Diaspora refugee camps. The Welfare Association was the first charitable society of its kind in the Arab world, concerned with the Palestiniansí scientific, cultural, heritage, economic and administrative affairs. Abdel Muhsin Qattan and Abdel Majid Shuman were also co-founders of the Association.
According to CCC Vice President Samer Khoury, some of the most notable projects which CCC contributed to establishing worldwide include the Wafra oil refinery in Kuwait, the Zayed seaport in Abu Dhabi, the Zayed Sports City, the Beirut International Airport, the development project for gas fields in Kazakhstan, the Sohar refinery project in Oman and the Capital Towers project in Dubai among others.
The decision maker
Alongside his companyís projects, Mr. Khoury was also active in the decision making of several Palestinian, Arab and international institutions. He was a shareholder and board member in many companies and banks including the Arab Bank. His company, the Consolidated Contractors Company has branches in 44 countries in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, the United States and countries of the former USSR.
Mr. Saeed Khoury was one of the leading builders worldwide and in Palestine in particular. He contributed to a vast number of building and infrastructure projects and services, greatly contributing to Palestineís economy and creating job opportunities for thousands of graduates and unemployed Palestinians. This is in addition to his philanthropic work which will have an impact on Palestinian society for years to come.