PHOTO: Sam Bahour (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Sam Bahour is far from your typical successful businessperson.
Born in Ohio in 1964 to a Palestinian father and Lebanese-American mother, Bahour visited Palestine every summer.
After graduating from Youngstown State University in 1989 with a degree in computer technology, he worked for several software development firms. In 1995, he decided to relocate to Palestine with his family to work on the privatization of the communications sector.
"Here was an opportunity to practice what I had been preaching for a long time," Bahour said. "We need to build a future here while at the same time ending the occupation. To do state-building not just for the sake of state-building, but also for the sake of ending the occupation."
Bahour was part of the core team that established the Palestine Telecommunications Company, the first private telecommunications company in the Middle East. He subsequently founded three private businesses - AIM, an IT consulting firm, the Palestine Diaspora Investment Company, and the first western-style retail development, the Plaza Shopping Center. After relocating to Palestine, he also earned his MBA from a joint program between Northwestern University and Tel Aviv University. "There was a clear need to know Israelis from a perspective other than as soldiers," Bahour said. "The MBA program gave me the opportunity to interact with executive level Israelis and get to know them as equals."
Accompanying his entrepreneurial side, Bahour also serves as an analyst and a frequent writer. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and many other publications. And he continues to try to build the Palestinian economy, but not without difficulty. "At the end of the day it's an occupied economy," he said. "You can't take the occupation out of the economy."
An eternal optimist, Bahour is developing several new business ventures, including a community newspaper publishing house and the Palestinian franchise for an electronic e-commerce platform to increase transparency during the government bidding process.
Op-Ed by Sam Bahour:
We can't go home again, The New York Times