Ghandour, Fadi (1959–)
Fadi Ali Ghandour (Ghandur) is a major Jordanian businessman and the head of the only Middle Eastern company ever listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Ghandour was born in 1959 to a Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim family. His father, Ali Ghandour, began working in Jordan with Alia, the Jordanian national airline, in the mid-1960s and eventually became its chairman. As a result, Fadi grew up in both Beirut and Amman. He traveled to the United States to attend the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., graduating with a B.A. in political science. Shortly after graduating from college, Ghandour and American William Kingston cofounded the Aramex courier company in 1981. Ghandour, who proclaims himself a preacher for entrepreneurship in the Middle East, felt that the Middle East needed someone to fill a niche in the international courier delivery business. Today, he remains the president and chief executive officer of Aramex, which has grown to become a giant in the Middle Eastern shipping business.
INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS
Originally Ghandour envisioned Aramex as an outsourcing company for global courier giants such as FedEx and Airborne Express. At that time, only DHL shipping had a presence in the Middle East. As Aramex's president and chief executive officer, Ghandour structured the company around American, not traditional Middle Eastern business models. For example, nearly one out of six of Aramex's over 3,800 employees owns stock in the company. Aramex does not have a central structure of directing managers to keep it flexible.
Ever innovative, Ghandour and Aramex introduced the company's Shop & Ship service to serve a vital need in the Middle East. Because some online companies will not sell and ship products to persons without a European or North American address, or do business with persons whose credit card accounts have addresses outside those two regions, Aramex set up a service whereby buyers can set up credit card accounts using an Aramex address in the United States or Britain. They can then make purchases, have them sent to an Aramex office in one of those two countries, whereupon Aramex will ship the product to the buyer's final destination in the Middle East. Ghandour noted that it has become a massive service for them.
Aramex continued to grow in size and in the services it provided and became a major shipping company in the Middle East by the 1990s. In 1997 Aramex became the first Middle Eastern company to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York. In 2002 a private firm in the United Arab Emirates bought the company, although in June 2005 the company went public again. When the initial public offering (IPO) was listed on the Dubai Stock Exchange at that time, it raised approximately US$12 billion.
By 2005 Aramex was the Mediterranean region's most important courier service. In addition to these services, Aramex is involved in transport, trucking, and warehousing. It maintains alliances with over forty-five companies and in 2004 boasted US$189 million in revenues. Ghandour is aiming to take Aramex global, and join FedEx, DHL, UPS, and TNT in terms of becoming one of the top courier companies in the world.
Name: Fadi Ghandour (Ghandur)
Family: Wife: Rula; two sons: Basel, Fares
Nationality: Jordanian; Lebanese descent
- 1981: Cofounds Aramex
- 1997: Aramex becomes first Middle Eastern company to list on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York
- 2002: Aramex sold to a private, United Arab Emirates-based company
- 2003: Named chair, Middle East and Africa Area of the Young Presidents Organization
- 2005: Aramex goes public again
Ghandour also is a founding partner in Maktoob.com, the largest Arab online community. He is a member of the board of directors of Abraaj Capital, and sits on the advisory board of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business of the American University of Beirut. From 2003 to 2005, Ghandour was the Middle East and Africa Area chairman of the Young Presidents Organization. Healso helped found Entrepreneurs for Development, a Middle East-wide corporate responsibility initiative. In Jordan, he is chairman of the board of trustees for Queen Rania al-Abdullah's Jordan River Foundation, and chairman of the National Microfinance Bank.
THE WORLD'S PERSPECTIVE
Ghandour's achievements have not gone unnoticed. Beyond Aramex's obvious success, many have noted how his entire American-style approach to dynamic and flexible business practices and entrepreneurship have served to shake up the business environment in the Middle East. In 2005 the Arabic edition of Newsweek named Ghandour one of the forty-three people most likely to influence change in the Middle East. Acclaimed American journalist Thomas Friedman featured Ghandour in his best-selling book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.
Fadi Ghandour has not yet finished making his mark upon Jordan, the Middle East, or the world. But he is sure to be remembered as a young, innovative entrepreneur and businessman who brought energy and creativity to a sometimes sluggish, patriarchal, or state-dominated Middle Eastern business climate.
"Arabia Retools." Newsweek International. 20 June 2005. Available from http://www.newsweek.com.
Friedman, Thomas. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.
"The Power of People." Newsweek (Arabic). 26 April 2005. Available from https://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20050831094748.
Shikoh, Rafi-uddin. "Fadi Ghandour: A Rare New-Economy Entrepreneur." Dinar Standard. Updated 28 December 2005. Available from http://www.dinarstandard.com.
Michael R. Fischbach