Personality of the Month

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh is widely recognized as a philanthropic businessman at the leading edge of change. As founder and chairman of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org), he has built an international company that operates out of 100+ offices worldwide as a global provider of professional and educational services. This is the story of a refugee who became a global figure by turning adversities into blessings through understanding suffering and difficult circumstances as gifts for the soul and blessings in disguise.

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Born in Jaffa in 1938, Abu-Ghazaleh had to flee with his parents to a village in southern Lebanon in 1948. He obtained a degree in business administration at the American University of Beirut on a United Nations scholarship, and this is where he began to consider the sufferings of his early life as blessings that have allowed him to succeed. “I had no choice but to study hard in order to win a scholarship; other students had better lives and better options, but for me the case was different since I had to spend nights studying under a street lamp because we simply did not have any electricity. But I remember that the light in the street was brighter and better than any light in other houses,” Abu-Ghazaleh said with a smile.

Between selling ice cream and offering private lessons, the young Abu-Ghazaleh tried to make ends meet. “I was forced to study and work at the same time. I used to carry a heavy box on my back filled with ice cream to sell, and it taught me the basics of running a business. My work at a music shop served to develop my passion for classical music – it all paid off,” he explains.

His passion for music is unmatched, and in 2013 he received a royal request from Her Majesty Queen Noor Al-Hussein to revive the Amman Symphony Orchestra, a mission he passionately accepted. As the patron of the Freunde der Salzburger Festspiele, the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra, L’Association pour le rayonnement de l’Opéra National de Paris, and other orchestras, Abu-Ghazaleh’s world of music can only be described as influential and inspirational.

Believing in the power of technology, Abu-Ghazaleh has made it clear that his organization will embrace the fast world of high tech to serve his clients and his employees at any cost. His vision of a better future and his strong belief in the power of youth led him to enter this challenging arena.

Intellectual property is another subject that is close to his heart, and since launching Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP), a leading firm among IP-related businesses, he has been recognized as a pioneer in this field. Abu-Ghazaleh has been inducted into the IP Hall of Fame in the United States and has been chairman of the Arab Society for Intellectual Property since 1987. For many years in a row, AGIP was chosen as the best IP firm by Managing Intellectual Property, and in 2000, the firm published The Abu-Ghazaleh IP Dictionary – an industry first.

Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh’s vision of establishing an institute that offers world-class education as a human right has led him to create the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University (TAG-UNI), a virtual gateway to the world’s best education, promoting global citizenship and individual responsibility. He also founded the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Graduate School of Business (TAGSB) and, in Bahrain, the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University College of Business. “Education is what makes this world a better place, and that is why I’m committed to ensuring that education is a right for all,” he said.

In 2010, Abu-Ghazaleh launched the “All for Palestine” initiative that aims to highlight Palestinian creativity across the world and promote and support Palestinian achievements in various fields. It reflects the originality and creativity of Palestinians in the diaspora and represents a reliable source for those who aspire to provide a prosperous future for their Palestinian families. As he explains, “All for Palestine tells the story of each Palestinian scientist, writer, actor, official, artist, athlete, and businessman, as well as others who have achieved success in the face of adversity in order to inspire the next generation of Palestinian leaders.”

Abu Ghazaleh’s model for success has been developed upon solid foundations of embracing and adapting to change in order to stay one step ahead of a fast-moving and evolving business world. He has been recognized by the United Nations for his pioneering work and has become a reliable UN partner in his role as chairman of a number of boards and initiatives, including Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), UN Global Compact, United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TF), Advisory Committee on Internet Governance, and United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TF), among others.

Abu-Ghazaleh’s two sons and two daughters are involved with TAG-Org, and the group resembles a traditional global family business. “My grandchildren, who are all grown-ups now, know that happiness, as well as change, starts from the inside,” he stated.

There is nothing called free time in the dictionary of Abu-Ghazaleh, and the little time he has he spends reading. “I consider myself a student who has not yet graduated, and that is why I make sure to read everything I can. The subjects that capture my attention today are artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented reality, and virtual reality.”