Khouri, Rami (1948–)

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Khouri, Rami

Rami George Khouri is a prominent Palestinian American journalist whose background, both in the Middle East and the United States, has made him a popular and widely sought-after media commentator in the Arab world, the United States, and Europe.


Khouri was born on 22 October 1948, in New York City, to a family of Palestinian Arab Christians. He was born in the United States because his father, George Khouri—a journalist from Nazareth, mandatory Palestine—had traveled with his wife to New York in 1947 to cover the United Nations (UN) debates about the future of Palestine.

After the 1948 War, the new State of Israel refused to allow the Khouri family—or hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians made refugees by the war—to return. George Khouri stayed in New York and found a job working for the UN office of public information. After attending secondary school in Geneva, Switzerland, Rami Khouri earned his B.A. in political science and journalism at Syracuse University in the United States in 1970. In 1998, Khouri obtained an M.S. in mass communications at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

In 1971, Khouri began working as a reporter for the English-language newspaper the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon. From 1972 to 1973, he continued writing columns for the paper while working as managing editor of Middle East Sketch magazine. Following a year in the United States as program administrator for the Division of International Programs Abroad at Syracuse University, Khouri returned to Beirut to become managing editor of Middle East Money in Beirut from 1973 to 1974. He then moved to Amman, Jordan, where he served as editor-in-chief of Jordan's English-language daily, the Jordan Times, from 1975 to 1982 and again from 1987 to 1988, as well as working as the general manager of Al Kutba Publishers in Amman from 1986 to 2001. Following a year working for the International Crisis Group (an international risk analysis firm) in Amman in 2002, Khouri took over as executive editor of the Daily Star in Beirut from 2003 to 2005.

During his years as one of the Middle East's premier English-language journalists and editors, Khouri also was a prolific writer and commentator. He was a regularly featured writer from 1975 to 1989 for a number of newspapers and magazines around the world, including the Financial Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, McGraw-Hill World News Service, Euromoney magazine, Middle East magazine, and Aramco World magazine. Khouri also contributed articles, op-ed pieces, reports, commentaries, and news analyses on occasion from 1974 to 1997 to the New York Times, Times (London), NBC television, CBS television, Harper's magazine, CNN television, Newsweek-Japan, El Pais (Madrid), New Perspectives Quarterly, Los Angeles Times syndicate, Middle East International, Middle East Annual Review, Sunday Times (London), An Nahar, Archaeology magazine (New York), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service and BBC-Radio Scotland, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), National Public Radio (United States), Middle East Money magazine (London), Banker magazine (London), and Al Mashreq-Mideast monthly media review (Amman).


Name: Rami Khouri

Birth: 1948, New York City

Family: Wife, Ellen Kettaneh Khouri; two sons, Haitham and Raja

Nationality: Palestinian American

Education: B.A., political science and journalism, 1970, and M.S., mass communications, 1994, Syracuse University


  • 1971: Reporter, the Daily Star, Beirut
  • 1972–1973: Managing editor, Middle East Sketch
  • 1973–1974: Managing editor, Middle East Money
  • 1975–1982: Editor-in-chief, the Jordan Times
  • 1983: Lecturer, Yarmuk University
  • 1986–2001: General manager, Al Kutba Publishers
  • 1990: Hosts "Encounters" on Jordanian public television
  • 1992: Member, World Council of Churches Commission on Justice, Peace, and Creation
  • 1993–2002: Associate fellow, Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies
  • 1994: Visiting scholar, Syracuse University
  • 1996: Writes Jordan Antiquity
  • 1998–2003: Consultant on archaeological and religious sites for Jordanian ministry of tourism and antiquities
  • 2001–2002: Fellow at Harvard University
  • 2002–present: Member, Brookings Institution Task Force on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World
  • 2003–2005: Executive editor, the Daily Star
  • 2004: Awarded Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism by Common Ground
  • 2005–present: Director, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut; lecturer, Syracuse University and Lebanese American University; nonresident senior fellow, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government
  • 2006: Awarded Peace Award by Pax Christi International; visiting fellow, Stanford University

Khouri also branched out in other directions, from radio and television journalism to archaeology to academia. He hosted the weekly Encounter public affairs interview show on Jordanian radio and television from 1990 to 2001 and the weekly Jordan: Ancient Cultures history/archaeology program on Radio Jordan from 1997 to 2001. Beyond that, he wrote Jordan Antiquity, a syndicated weekly article on Jordanian history and archeology from 1996 to 2001 and served as a consultant for the Jordanian ministry of tourism and antiquities on religious and archaeological sites in Jordan from 1998 to 2003. He also was a founding member of the Jordan Coalition for Natural and Cultural Heritage Protection. Khouri still writes "A View from the Arab World," an internationally syndicated political column that is syndicated by Agence Global (U.S.). In 1983, Khouri was a lecturer in journalism and mass communications at Yarmuk University in Jordan, and in 2005, was a lecturer in mass communications at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. He also was a visiting scholar at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 1994, a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University from 2001 to 2002, a senior media adviser for the Arab Center for the Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity from 2005 to 2006, a visiting fellow at Stanford University in 2006, as well as a member of the Brookings Institution's Task Force on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in 2002.

Khouri's intimate knowledge of current events in the Middle East and his background in the media place him in great demand to contribute his expertise to a number of other ventures around the world. Among other projects, he was senior associate at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs' Global Affairs Institute at Syracuse University from 1995 to 2001. Khouri developed a media promotion strategy for the National Bank of Kuwait (1988–1990), the Arab Bank (1992), AMOCO-Jordan (1998), and the Swiss-based Welfare Association (1998). Khouri also was a consultant for several ventures dealing with historical-archaeological sites in Jordan, including for London-based Scott Wilson & Co., Ltd. (a comprehensive study of the town of Jarash and its antiquities, from 2000 to 2001) and the Jordanian government (media promotion for the reputed site of Jesus' baptism on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River, in 1998).

Issues relating to justice, dialogue, and human rights also interest Khouri. From 1992 to 1993, he was a member of the World Council of Churches' Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation and was an associate fellow from 1993 to 2002 for the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Amman. He was an international board member of the Life & Peace Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, from 1995 to 1998, and a member of the advisory board for Mizan Human Rights Society in Amman from 1999 to 2002.

Khouri is also the author of several books, many articles, and other writings. These include The Jordan Valley: Life and Society below Sea Level (1981), The Antiquities of the Jordan Rift Valley (1988), Jerash: A Frontier City of the Roman East (1986), and Petra: A Guide to the Capital of the Nabataean Kingdom (1986).

Khouri is the director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, as well as editor-at-large for the Daily Star. He is a research associate at the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflict at Syracuse University's Maxwell School; a nonresident senior fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and at the Dubai School of Government; a fellow of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) in Jerusalem; an adjunct lecturer in media and politics at the American University of Beirut, University of Chicago, and Northeastern University; and member of the board of the East-West Institute, Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, and the National Museum of Jordan.


Few Arab journalists and analysts have achieved as much exposure in the United States and Europe as Khouri. He has been influenced by his experience as a man with his feet in two worlds: the Middle East and the United States. By virtue of being born and raised in the United States and having been educated there, he obtained not only a grasp of fluent, American-accented English, but also a deep knowledge of American cultural, political, and journalistic attitudes. Combined with his Palestinian heritage and lifetime of living in the Middle East and observing its political scene, these insights and abilities have made Khouri supremely able to discuss Middle Eastern issues in a manner that Westerners can understand and to which they can relate. He has made his mark in many fields, from journalism to academia, from archaeology to human rights. His reasoned, dispassionate analysis also has contributed to his stature.


Another trend that may be emerging is the possible broad polarization of two camps in the Middle East and the West. Many in the Middle East see the United States, Israel, and many European states as a single political grouping, based most notably on their common policies on Iran's nuclear industry, the Lebanon war last summer, last year's Mohammad cartoons controversy, and the boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Consequently, large swaths of Arab, Iranian and Turkish public opinion—and many governments—are turning hostile to the United States in particular, and even to "the West" more generally. For Washington to alienate simultaneously the three largest Islamic publics in the region—Arabs, Iranians and Turks—is no easy feat. It will go down in history as another negative consequence of misguided Bush Administration policies that have been inordinately driven by Neo-Conservative zealots, pro-Israeli partisans, rightwing American Christian fanatics and other oddballs of a remarkably permissive American political culture.



Khouri's various contributions are well known throughout the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. This is attested to in part by some of the awards he has received over the years. Search for Common Ground awarded him its Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism in 2004. Most recently, the Roman Catholic peace and justice organization Pax Christi International awarded Khouri its Peace Award in 2006 for his efforts to promote peace and justice in the Middle East.


Rami Khouri's career is not over, but he surely will be remembered as one of the few journalists able to provide serious yet accessible cross-cultural analysis to both Western and Arab audiences.


Khouri, Rami. The Jordan Valley: Life and Society below Sea Level. London and New York: Longman, 1981.

―――――――. The Antiquities of the Jordan Rift Valley. Amman: Al Kutba Publishers, 1988.

―――――――. Jerash: A Frontier City of the Roman East. London: Longman, 1986.

―――――――. Petra: A Guide to the Capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. London: Longman, 1986.

"Rami G. Khouri." Agence Global. Available from

                                      Michael R. Fischbach