Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The conflict between Israel and Palestine broke out again and caused thousands of deaths. This condition then adds to a long series of bloody conflicts in the area that have occurred since 70 years ago.
Peace that has been attempted several times has now failed. One of them is being pursued by a figure named Munib al Masri, a businessman and the richest person in Palestine.
Expelled from the Motherland
Munib al Masri was born in Nablus, Palestine in 1934 to a wealthy family. His father, who died when Munib was 1.5 years old, was a gold trader who had many partnerships with other traders abroad.
He then grew up with his mother and lived in Palestine until the age of 18. Throughout his life there, he was an eyewitness when David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.
Not only that, he was also a witness and victim of the post-proclamation fighting. At the age of 14, he witnessed how the previously peaceful and calm Nablus turned into a battlefield.
He testified that he often witnessed Israeli fighter pilots dropping bombs in the area where he lived. Houses were destroyed. Casualties also continue to fall. Due to this incident, the seeds of revenge within him began to emerge.
“While standing in the shelter, I decided to become a fighter pilot in the Palestinian Air Force so I could fight Israel,” Munib told the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Until finally, the increasingly unfavorable situation forced Munib to leave his homeland. With pocket money of US$ 400, in 1952 he went to Beirut, Lebanon, to make the long journey via ship to New York, United States (US).
At Uncle Sam, Munib slowly began to organize a new life. He was recorded as studying petroleum at the University of Texas in 1955.
Then a year later he continued studying geology at Sul Ross University. After studying extensively in the US, Munib returned to the Middle East to establish a mineral and water drilling company, called Engineering & Development Group (Edgo) based in Amman, Jordan.
Later, the company was successful in making Munib’s name rise to fame. He is known as an expert who was able to find water sources in the dry Middle East region.
From here, he started to get rich. Even so, wealth did not make him complacent and forget his homeland of Palestine.
He still remembers his dream of becoming a fighter pilot to avenge Israel’s cruelty. However, as a result of fate bringing him into the profession of entrepreneur, he chose to fight through other means.
Fighting to ‘beat’ Israel even though it’s not easy
After a successful career and experience in the Middle Eastern industrial sector, he decided to return to Palestine. In 1993, he and other Palestinian expatriates founded Palestine Development and Investment (PADICO).
On its official website, PADICO seeks to build and provide investment in Palestine with the aim of reviving the national economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Later, this company was the brains behind the existence of the Palestine Stock Exchange and also the presence of foreign investment in the construction of facilities and infrastructure.
For Munib, the establishment of PADICO is a national struggle to improve social welfare, education and nation development. If that is achieved, then the Palestinian people can achieve their independence.
“If God gives me the strength, I will work to develop the Palestinian economy to find a solution to the problem of widespread unemployment. […] Every time I succeed in getting work for Palestinians, I am filled with satisfaction and happiness,” Munib told Ynetnews.
Unfortunately, this effort is not easy. Palestinian independence as a sensitive issue makes the Israeli authorities react strongly. It is not uncommon for PADICO trade and distribution routes to be closed by the authorities. On this basis, trust in investors has decreased and it is not easy to invite them again.
And this was indeed proven when PADICO’s efforts began to be seen. Quoting Arabian Business, many of PADICO’s business lines then stagnated. The hotels are quiet. Many factories were closed.
In short, none of this is profitable. Even so, Munib continued his struggle.
“PADICO’s business is patriotism, not profit. Therefore, we must attract rich Palestinians to fight for national interests,” said the man who invested more than US$ 20 million of his own money in the Palestinian economy.
Starting to bear sweet fruit
Slowly, PADICO and Munib’s efforts began to bear fruit. The private money Munib spent really helped the Palestinian people.
The American University of Beirut website writes that Munib has become a well-known philanthropist through the Masri Foundation. He succeeded in helping thousands of people by providing free medicine, as well as rebuilding houses that had been destroyed by Israel.
Apart from that, he was also the founder of various universities in Palestine, helped operate hospitals and provided school scholarships to Palestinian children. Tens of thousands of residents have also been employed by him.
All of this ultimately made Palestine ‘alive’ again even though it was repeatedly beaten badly by Israeli Zionists. Donations of millions of dollars from his personal money did not make Munib poor because his company, EDGO, remained a money-making machine for him.
Although it is not known exactly how rich he is, seeing his contributions and ownership of luxury homes has made Munib al-Masri named the richest Palestinian person.
Now, his company PADICO has become a major investment company under the leadership of his family, Bashar Masri. Quoting Forbes, Bashar Masri is currently developing the first planned city in Palestine, Rawabi City, which was built with his personal money.
It is recorded that the company has managed funds of US$ 815 million or Rp. 12.7 trillion for development in the financial, energy, industrial and property sectors. All profits are diverted for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
Even though he did not struggle to become a fighter pilot, Munib ultimately succeeded in fighting through his own means: business and investment. In an interview to Ynetnews in 2002, he admitted that he was satisfied with doing all that and just needed to wait for time to see Palestine become independent.
Now, he is 89 years old. To the media, he continued to admit that he was waiting for Palestine to become independent, even though this hope was always covered by black clouds.
(Verda Nano Setiawan/fab)