Model Role Details

Abdulmajeed Shoman

Abdulmajeed Shoman

Sector : Business , Banking

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Jordan
  • Gender : Male
  • Born in : 1912
  • Age : 100
  • Curriculum vitae :

Information

Abdul Majeed Shoman was born in Beit Hanina, Palestine, in 1912. His father, a stonemason, had left to seek his fortune in the US six months before his birth. Shoman’s mother died when he was a child, and he was raised by his grandmother. He met his father for the first time when he arrived in New York at the age of 14. Shoman idolised his father; he later commissioned a biography of him, The Indomitable Arab, and put Shoman Sr’s face on the bank’s traveller ’s cheques.

Shoman studied at the University of New York and joined Arab Bank in 1936. Legend has it that when there was a run on the bank at the outbreak of the Second World War, he sat at the teller’s window and staved off disaster by counting out each withdrawal in single pound notes, with painstaking slowness, until closing time.

On the death of his father in 1974, Shoman became chairman of the bank. During his career at the helm, he opened 378 branches in 27 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, and made Arab Bank one of the most widespread Arab-owned financial institutions in the world.

Listed in Amman, Arab Bank’s shareholders include the Governments of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the heirs of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who controlled a 9 per cent stake in the bank.

When the Palestine Liberation Organisation was founded in 1964, the Shomans became significant supporters. Abdul Majeed served as the first chairman of the Palestine National Fund, the PLO’s financial section. During the 1980s and 1990s Arab Bank managed tens of millions of dollars for the group and maintained accounts for the family of the PLO leader Yassir Arafat.

Shoman acted as chairman of the Abdul Majeed Shoman Foundation, a non-profit cultural organisation established to honour individuals for their lifelong commitment to preserving the Arab heritage and history of Jerusalem. He also chaired various humanitarian organisations, including the Welfare Association Medical Care Society in Ramallah, and the Jordanian Popular Committee for the Support of the Intifada — through which he would approach wealthy Palestinians and advise them on their donations.

He served as a Member for the Jordanian Upper House of Parliament for two terms (1987-1990 and 1993-1997).

This year investigations launched by US bank regulators and the US Justice Department sought to ascertain what role, if any, the bank might have played in the channelling of “suspicious” funds. It was alleged that the New York branch was involved in the transfer of more than $20 million to or from more than 45 suspected terrorists or terror groups, identified by the US Government as conduits for al-Qaeda, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others.

The same branch also handled funds for an offshore bank accused of transmitting money for Osama bin Laden, several top Hamas leaders and a shop, called Carnival French Ice Cream, in Brooklyn — allegedly used by al-Qaeda’s wing in Yemen.

Though the bank acknowledged that the transactions had occurred, it reported only a handful as questionable and denied awareness of the existence of an organised programme to fund terrorism. At the time of Shoman’s death, the bank was facing the possibility of fines, reportedly in the region of $20 million. It had also been threatened by lawsuits in the US courts brought by US and Israeli victims of terrorist attacks in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories seeking more than $1 billion in damages.

Although the bank closed its New York branch in February 2005, it continues to look for opportunities elsewhere and has a licence to open several branches in Iraq. US diplomats and Israeli officials encouraged the bank to serve the Palestinian territories after the 1993 Oslo peace accords, and today it is the only commercial bank with a broad network of branches in these territories.

The slur on the bank’s reputation troubled Shoman. He carried his pride in the bank as far as ensuring that he was always the first into the bank every day, and the last to leave.

Apart from banking, his passion was the New York Yankees baseball team. During the years he lived and studied in New York he developed a taste for the sport; at home in Jordan he would stay up all night watching Yankee games on satellite television.

Even towards the end of his life he was extremely diligent, regularly working at weekends. Aware of conflicts of interest, he always claimed to be a banker pursuing no other business opportunities.

Shoman’s wife and his son, Khaled, predeceased him. He is survived by his son, Abdul Hamid, who was appointed chief executive officer and deputy chairman of the bank in May 2001.

Achievements and Awards

Abdul Majeed Shoman, the eldest of Abdul Hameed’s sons, assumed the leadership position, and continued down the path that was charted by his father. Not only was Abdul Majeed Shoman able to preserve and safeguard this magnificent economic edifice but also further expand and help it thrive by allocating so much of his time and energy for that purpose, thus earning in the process great esteem and renown as one of the illustrious names in commerce and the financial sector in the Arab world. Abdul Majeed has always believed in the significance of science, financing of scientific research, supporting and encouraging scientists, as well as sponsoring Arab humanistic Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in 1978. Thus, Abdul Majeed’s belief and aims merged with Abdul Hameed’s grand vision and nationalistic impulse, which called for the betterment and advancement of the Arab nation, so that it may take a leading role in science and human progress.

Abdul Majeed Shoman married a wealthy woman in Jerusalem. Her name was Naela; her father was a very important man in Palestine and played a significant role in his country. Abdul Majeed Shoman had two children; the eldest was named by his father, Abdul Hammed Shoman and the youngest was Ahmad Shoman.

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