Arab Bank magnate dies at 94

THE ARAB world’s financial community lost one of its most revered bankers last week when Abdul Majeed Shoman, the chairman of the Arab Bank died aged 94.

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By  Massoud A. Derhally Published  July 10, 2005

THE ARAB world’s financial community lost one of its most revered bankers last week when Abdul Majeed Shoman, the chairman of the Arab Bank died aged 94. Shoman, who died of natural causes, took over the bank after his father, Abdul Hameed Shoman, who founded Arab Bank in Palestine in 1930. He later moved the institution, which is one of the top 20 Arab financial firms to Jordan after the Palestine-Israel conflict broke out in 1948. A firm believer in the importance of education, Shoman founded a foundation to fund scientific research and helped scientists and encouraged Arab humanistic creativity. He was born in Bait Hanina in Palestine in 1912 and finished his secondary education in the United States before joining the University of New York from where he earned his Bachelor and Masters degrees in economics and banking in 1936. In 1974 Shoman became chairman and general manager of Arab Bank after his father passed away. Determined to expand the activities of the bank, Shoman set out to open new branches, not only in the Arab countries, but also in Europe, Asia and America, to serve Arab communities around the globe with the bank’s 400 branches in 27 countries. The bank accounts for two thirds of the market capitalisation of the Jordanian stock market and has a US$36.5 billion balance sheet at the end of 2004 and over US$27 billion in assets. In 2003, Saudi Oger a privately held company owned by the family of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri acquired around 15% of the bank. Jordan’s social pension fund also owns approximately 15%. The remainder of the bank is divided among its 4000 shareholders. In recognition of his achievements, contribution to Jordan and stature, King Abdullah ordered that Shoman be buried in the royal cemetery. It is widely expected that Abdel Hamid Shoman, the son of Abdul Majeed, will take over as chairman of the bank. He is currently serving as deputy chairman and CEO of the bank. The Arab Bank shrugged off law suits brought against it in the US by relatives of those killed in terror attacks in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories that have accused the bank of being complicit and by allowing funds to be transferred to “terrorists” and families of suicide bombers. The bank has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying they were baseless and frivolous. This view was reiterated and upheld by the Jordanian Central Bank, which has also vied for the bank’s clean record.

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