Simon Kouba, a refugee from West Jerusalem, was born in the Old City in 1961 as the eldest son of Issa and Nahil. He is married to Marlene Harb and the father of Issa, Sari, Maurine, and Marwan.
Simon enjoyed a rich childhood. Attending the Frères School near Bab al-Jadeed (New Gate), he engaged in many school activities and played sports, especially basketball, captaining the school’s team and being a member of the Jerusalem YMCA’s basketball team. Having graduated from high school in 1978, he specialized in architectural engineering and urban planning, obtaining a master’s degree in the field. Simon started his career in Jerusalem in 1987, at the beginning of the first Intifada, working first at the YMCA and then at UNRWA. In 1990, he headed an architectural office in West Jerusalem, where he had the chance to learn the vague pathways of building in Jerusalem.
In 1993, he opened his own architecture office on Al-Asfahani Street, a few meters away from the beloved walls of his city. Along with the business side of his new firm, he aimed to promote architecture and advocate for the right to build in the city. Thus, in 1995, together with Othman Hallack Simon was able to build the first housing project in Jerusalem, opening the arena for his fellow engineers to expand building in Jerusalem.
His deep passion for his hometown helped Simon to succeed in co-promoting the rehabilitation of structures in the Old City. Yet he never expected that his first project in 1997, tackling six small houses, would lead him to become one of the leading and most important architects in the field of renovation in the Old City, eventually achieving the rehabilitation and renovation of almost 1,000 structures. Together with Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, director of Terra Santa Schools, he accomplished a unique project: a sports center annexed to Terra Santa School in the Old City. The center includes a marvelous swimming pool, the first in the history of the Old City.
Today he manages his company, Simon Kouba Consultants, heading a wonderful team of architects, engineers, and administrators. He has solved several building-rights issues in the city and helped house tens of families every year.
Supported by his sons Issa and Sari, the engineering firm has gained the confidence of leading businesses, local schools, churches, consulates, and important organizations active in Jerusalem. With new blood in the company, new horizons are in sight, while Simon holds the rudder with eyes open for a better future for the coming generations.
Besides his passion for his work in the Holy City, Simon is one of the most active people in social work, aiming to support the resilience of Jerusalem’s Palestinian youth. As part of his contribution to his community, he is a board member at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, heading its board in Jerusalem, and serves as treasurer of the Greek Catholic Annunciation Society, president of the East Jerusalem YMCA, and president of the JR Mott Foundation (a YMCA-affiliated organization in Geneva). He is also a well-known supporter of youth activities in the city.
Along with his social contributions, he is a regular juror at several architectural schools, where his support of graduate students is made tangible by providing them a year of practical training before they enter graduate school. He strongly believes that the future of the Palestinian building struggle lies in the hands of the new generations of engineers and architects.