Ahmad Samir Zaabri:
Jordanian businessman and AUB alumnus Samir Zaabri (BBA ’70), who founded the Universal Trading Group in 1973 and subsequently built up eight major companies throughout the United Arab Emirates, and his son Ahmad (BA ’00) named a state-of-the-art lecture hall at AUB.
At the ceremony on February 22, 2011, celebrating their gift, the late Samir Zaabri lauded AUB for furnishing the region with its graduates who were “always ahead of others… I can assert that our success in our careers and professions was the direct result of what we acquired and experienced within...this campus.” He added that the experience he gained at AUB was not limited to what he learned in the classroom, but also included participating in student activism and forging life-long friendships.
“What we give to our university is not a contribution, but a duty and an expression of gratitude," he added, inviting other alumni to support AUB and other distinguished educational institutions so that the "new generations of Arabs will be equipped with the means to raise this region to the standards [demanded by the current times].”
"Our parents turned 80 this year, and we saw nothing more befitting as a gift than this center [the Samih Darwazah Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management], a beacon of transparency and good governance," said Said Darwazah, CEO of the Jordan-based Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which was founded by his father, Samih Darwazah, after whom the center is named. "We wish to pass on their legacy of excellence to the new generations and profile the future Arab leaders."
Samih Darwazah's story is a classic tale of a youth realizing his dream of establishing a large company. After graduating from AUB with a bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1954, he worked various jobs until he established a small factory in Jordan called Hikma Pharmaceuticals in 1977. Today Hikma has 12 factories in nine countries, spanning four continents, over 5,000 employees, a market capital of $2.5 billion, and revenues of $1 billion.
Samih Darwazah, who was formerly Jordanian minister of energy and natural resources, noted during a lecture he gave at AUB on January 13, 2011, that the values of openness, tolerance, and critical thinking, which he had learned as a student at AUB, helped him to succeed.
According to Said Darwazah, who is also a former minister of health in Jordan, his father's great strengths included faith and an unwavering belief in the power of education, investing in people and human resources, helping students to achieve their goals, and faith in the Arab character. "These are traits in common with AUB's vision, and yes, we can do it!" he added.
Dedicating the new AUB Musculoskeletal Medical Center Library in mid-September 2010, Dr. Nadim Afeiche, senior clinical lecturer in orthopedic surgery, spoke of the success of AUB orthopedic residents over the years.
At AUB since 1975, Dr. Afeiche expressed just how his choice to establish a library was a natural decision, primarily because it reasserted "appreciation of the leading role of AUBMC in Lebanon and the Middle East, my dedication to teaching, . . . my gratitude to my alma mater," and "my love to both my departed wife and my daughter." He wanted "our present residents and all future ones to benefit from the existing space and the new facilities in order to perfect their knowledge and learning."
Mahmoud Malhas, who made a generous gift to name the Mahmoud Malhas Common Room in West Hall, credits AUB with giving him not just a degree and an academic education, “but lots of culture...and the skills I needed to go out and succeed.” He says that “AUB never let us down, so let's all try to do as much as we can to continue the mission started by [AUB Founder Daniel] Bliss.”