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Sam Bahour - Profile

sam bahour

Sam Bahour is far from your typical successful businessperson.

Born in Ohio in 1964 to a Palestinian father and Lebanese-American mother, Bahour visited Palestine every summer.

After graduating from Youngstown State University in 1989 with a degree in computer technology, he worked for several software development firms. In 1995, he decided to relocate to Palestine with his family to work on the privatization of the communications sector.

"Here was an opportunity to practice what I had been preaching for a long time," Bahour said. "We need to build a future here while at the same time ending the occupation. To do state-building not just for the sake of state-building, but also for the sake of ending the occupation."

Bahour was part of the core team that established the Palestine Telecommunications Company(PALTEL), the first private telecommunications company in the Middle East. He subsequently founded three private businesses - AIM, an IT consulting firm, the Palestine Diaspora Investment Company, and the first western-style retail development, the Plaza Shopping Center.

He is currently an independent director at the Arab Islamic Bank and an advisory board member of the Open Society Foundations’ MENA Office. Bahour serves in various capacities in several community organizations, including co-founder and board chair of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE), board member of Just Vision in New York, board member and policy adviser at Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, and a secretariat member of the Palestine Strategy Group (PSG), among others. He writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published in leading outlets. He is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians (1993), tweets at @SamBahour and blogs at www.epalestine.com.

After relocating to Palestine, he also earned his MBA from a joint program between Northwestern University and Tel Aviv University. "There was a clear need to know Israelis from a perspective other than as soldiers," Bahour said. "The MBA program gave me the opportunity to interact with executive level Israelis and get to know them as equals."

Bahour continues to try to build the Palestinian economy, but not without difficulty. "At the end of the day it's an occupied economy," he said. "You can't take the occupation out of the economy."

An eternal optimist, Bahour is developing several new business ventures, including a community newspaper publishing house and the Palestinian franchise for an electronic e-commerce platform to increase transparency during the government bidding process.

Based: Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine
Degrees: Associate & Bachelor’s, Computer Technology, Youngstown State University; Kellogg-Recanati International Executive MBA, a joint program of the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) and the Recanati Business School (Tel Aviv University)

See a video interview with Sam Bahour.