Hasib Sabbagh, who died on 12 January 2010 after a long illness, was arguably the preeminent Palestinian entrepreneur in the business and contracting fields in the post-1948 period. Born to an old and distinguished Greek Catholic family of Safad in Eastern Galilee, Sabbagh established the Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) in 1945 in Haifa with several partners after graduating in engineering from the American University of Beirut. Under his dynamic leadership and with the cooperation of his life-long partner, Said Khoury, the CCC (which Sabbagh reconstituted in Lebanon after the fall of Palestine) evolved from a modest local enterprise into the giant global multinational corporation that it is today. Using the CCC as his base, he began as of the early 1970s to devote his great energy to the service of Palestine, not only through his philanthropic ventures promoting social and educational causes, but also through his behind-the-scenes political mediation and reconciliation efforts.
WALID KHALIDI, a founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies and its general secretary, has taught at Oxford University, the American University of Beirut, and Harvard University. This piece was excerpted, with some additions, from the chapter “Hasib” published in Hasib Sabbagh: From Palestinian Refugee to Citizen of the World, edited by Mary Jane Deeb and Mary E. King (Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute, 1996).