Jaweed Al Ghussein


Palestinian philanthropist and educationist In 1964, having moved his family to Britain, al-Ghussein set up, with an American consortium, an engineering and construction company, Cordoba, in Abu Dhabi. The company became a major player in establishing the infrastructure of the UAE - from the water pipeline to roads, hospitals, and many important buildings including Sheikh Zayed cultural centre. In 1984, al-Ghussein entered in politics and became chairman of the Palestinian National Fund, the financial arm of the PLO. When he criticised Yasser Arafat's backing of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, in 1990, their relationship collapsed. Six years later, al-Ghussein resigned publicly on Abu Dhabi television when he called for accountability and transparency in the PLO. In 2000, al-Ghussein, while attending a wedding reception in Abu Dhabi, was abducted and bundled into a private jet, taken to Gaza and held captive. He was allowed to travel to Cairo for cancer treatment, but a group of armed men burst into his hospital room, kidnapped him and took him back to Gaza. Only on international pressure he was finally brought to London for urgent medical treatment. To ease the Palestinian people's suffering al-Ghussein co-founded the New Century Foundation, a non-governmental organisation created specifically to encourage dialogue between adversaries. He personally funded the education of many young Palestinians and then made sure they got the jobs to match their qualifications in the Middle East. Born in Gaza, the son of a prominent land-owning family, Jaweed al-Ghussein and the family, like many fellow Palestinians, became refugees with the creation of Israel in 1948. He studied economics at the American University in Cairo. He first met Yasser Arafat and the two became friends.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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