By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Reuters reports that Sabih al-Masri, “a Palestinian billionaire and the chairman of Jordan’s largest lender Arab Bank, was detained in Saudi Arabia for questioning after a business trip to Riyadh, family sources and friends said on Saturday.” Other reports have picked up the story.
Reuters notes that “Masri was elected chairman of Arab Bank in 2012 after the resignation of Abdel Hamid Shoman whose family had founded the bank in Jerusalem in 1930.” Furthermore Reuters claims that “He is also the leading investor in the Palestinian territories with a large stake in Paltel,” and a member of the wealthy Masri family. It traces him back to Nablus, like the rest of the family, says he has a degree from Texas.” It claims that he is a “Saudi citizen and Jordan’s most prominent businessman.”
Sabih Taher AL-Masri is the founder and chairman of Arab Supply and Trading Co. (ASTRA GROUP), according to its website. He also “serves as Chairman of Palestine Telecommunication Company PLC (PALTEL) and Chairman of ZARA Investment Holding Company Limited (ZARA).”
Bloomberg provides a great deal more information. According to them he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Houston in 1961 and has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas (1963). They provide his full name as Sabih Taher Darwish Al-Masri and a list of companies he is involved with.
- Founder of Palestine Securities Exchange (PSE).
- Founding Member of PADICO HOLDING
- Palestine Exchange (PEX).
- Chairman of Palestine Securities Exchange (PSE) until 2004.
- Chairman of Arab Supply and Trading Corporation.
- Chairman of Paltel Corporation.
His “board relationships” list at Bloomberg is also interesting. It shows how his network of family members are on other boards and companies he is associated with. Munib Masri for instance is involved with the Palestine Development and Investment Co as well as Bashar Masri.
Sabih al-Masri has also been in the news over the Arab Bank terror trail in the US. In 2014 Newsmax reports, “The bank is clean!…The bank never did anything wrong, knowingly or intentionally,” he said at a hearing.
The Jordan Times reports in 2016 that when he was acquiring shares of Arab Bank he bought some from Saad Hariri. According to the story, Hariri, whos family owns part of Saudi Oger, sold 20 per cent stake in Arab Bank to a group of Saudi, Jordanian and Arab investors including the bank’s chairman himself, Sabih Masri.”
Al-Jazeera notes: “Masri, one of Jordan’s most prominent businessman, is the cousin of the billionaire Munib al-Masri, the wealthiest person in Palestine.” Munib Masri’s nephew is Bashar al-Masri. They are also related to Jordanian former Prime Minister Taher al-Masri. Munib Masri also went to the University of Texas. Bashar Masri also has a degree in engineering but not from the same university.