Hasib Sabbagh, 90
Hasib Sabbagh, 90, Middle East construction firm owner, dies
Hasib Sabbagh, 90, the billionaire Christian Palestinian businessman who co-founded Consolidated Contractors Co. International, one of the largest building companies in the Middle East, died Jan. 12 in a hospital in Cleveland. No cause of death was reported.
CCC, set up in 1952 by Mr. Sabbagh and his brother-in-law, Said Khoury, thrived in some of the world's most volatile regions, helped by Mr. Sabbagh's contacts with a wide range of business executives and politicians. The company built Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, which was completed in 1969, and a terminal extension at Reagan National Airport.
"He maintained relationships with very senior and key decision makers around the world," said Taher Masri, a former Jordanian prime minister. "Hasib went from being a Palestinian refugee to being a citizen of the world."
Mr. Sabbagh was born in 1920 in Tiberias, Palestine. He graduated from the Arab College of Jerusalem in 1938 and in 1941 received a civil engineering degree from the American University of Beirut.
CCC moved its headquarters to Athens from Beirut after civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975. The company then benefited from the economic construction boom of Dubai and provided offshore services to the oil and gas industries in the countries of the Persian Gulf.
Other projects of CCC include the Azerbaijan section of a 1,100-mile pipeline to the coast of Turkey for a group led by BP, Europe's largest oil company, and a Dubai shopping mall. CCC today has more than 140,000 employees and annual sales of about $5 billion.
CCC is ranked within the top 20 of international contractors globally, according to the company's Web site. Dubai-based Arabian Business magazine has listed Mr. Sabbagh as one of the 50 most powerful people in the Arab world and ranked him 19 on its 2009 list of the richest Arabs, with a net worth of $4.3 billion.
Mr. Sabbagh was also a member of the Palestine National Council and helped former Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat to get into a dialogue with the United States. Mr. Sabbagh was a donor to the Carter Center, which was founded in 1982 by former president Jimmy Carter and promotes respect for human rights and fights global poverty.
Carter said in 2005 that Mr. Sabbagh was "one of my earliest and strongest allies in pursuing peace in the Middle East" and that "Hasib's integrity and judgment, which made him a successful businessman, also made him a trusted adviser."
Mr. Sabbagh was also a philanthropist and proponent of education and providing financial aid to Palestinians.
After the death of his wife, he founded the Diana Tamari Sabbagh Foundation, which receives 1 percent of his annual income and distributes it to a wide variety of institutions in the Middle East, Europe and the United States, according to Mr. Sabbagh's personal Web site.
He gave financial aid to the Beirut Charities Foundation, the American University of Beirut, the Bethlehem University, the Jordan Charities Foundation, the Welfare Association in Geneva and the Vatican.