Home A M Qattan Foundation Resources Publication How It All Began

How It All Began


In admiring gratitude to, and loving memory of

Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan (1929 - 2017)

and Leila Miqdadi Al-Qattan (1934 - 2015)

The A.M. Qattan Foundation at 20 - Challenges and Opportunities

There is a paradox at the heart of the A.M. Qattan Foundation: a desire to work progressively while needing to compromise and moderate its position because it functions in a politically repressive and socially conservative environment. It is thus by nature contrarian, by necessity pragmatic, in a way that perhaps reflects both the character of its founder, my father Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan, and his experience of exile and dispossession. Coming of age in the heyday of the anti-colonial and anti-Zionist struggle and imbued with the idealism of the social revolutions that engulfed the Arab world following independence, his impecunious family circumstances following the Nakba forced him to drop his political science studies in favour of a business degree. He was then obliged to seek employment in Kuwait, his adoptive country, where he became a successful businessman but remained deeply committed to his people’s struggle to preserve their culture and identity to fight for the liberation of their homeland. This demanded principled courage and determination but also compromise. How he came to identify and often skilfully marry these contradictions—progressive thinking vs conservative pragmatism, the fight for emancipation vs the love of tradition, the logic of political and social engagement vs that of business, hope vs despair—would characterise his life trajectory.


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