Arab-American entrepreneurs share the secrets of their success 

Clockwise from top left: Farouk Shami, the founder of billion-dollar business Farouk Systems, Rami Kashou, the CEO Rami Kashou Brand, Aneesa Muthana, CEO of Pioneer Service Inc and Manal Saab, CEO of Sorensen Gross Construction Services. (farouk.com/ramikashou.com/pioneerserviceinc.com/Sorensen Gross Construction Services)
Clockwise from top left: Farouk Shami, the founder of billion-dollar business Farouk Systems, Rami Kashou, the CEO Rami Kashou Brand, Aneesa Muthana, CEO of Pioneer Service Inc and Manal Saab, CEO of Sorensen Gross Construction Services. (farouk.com/ramikashou.com/pioneerserviceinc.com/Sorensen Gross Construction Services)
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Updated 04 February 2021

Arab-American entrepreneurs share the secrets of their success 

Clockwise from top left: Farouk Shami, the founder of billion-dollar business Farouk Systems, Rami Kashou, the CEO Rami Kashou Brand, Aneesa Muthana, CEO of Pioneer Service Inc and Manal Saab, CEO of Sorensen Gross Construction Services. (farouk.com/ramikashou.com/pioneerserviceinc.com/Sorensen Gross Construction Services)
  • Arab business leaders were taking part in an online panel discussion hosted by the Arab America Foundation

CHICAGO: The struggles of being an immigrant has helped many successful Arab-American entrepreneurs, a panel of business leaders said on Wednesday during an online panel discussion hosted by the Arab America Foundation.

Participants included business leaders who have appeared on many popular American TV programs including “Shark Tank”, “The Apprentice”, “The Kardashians”, and “Operation Runway.” 

The panel also hosted several high-flying businesswomen who said they had overcome gender imbalances.

All said their success was in part a by-product of the work ethic that their immigrant parents brought to the US, as well their own “passionate drive” to pursue their dreams.

“My parents paved the way for me … even though poverty was common there in Yemen … they came to this country in the 1960s with only a determination to succeed,” said Aneesa Muthana, CEO of Pioneer Service Inc, a women-owned and operated small Chicagoland business providing precision-machined parts since 1990.

“My parents worked very hard. Saved their money. They opened up a manufacturing facility … I learned how to run a company from inside and out.”

Muthana manufactures parts for aerospace industry companies including Tesla, and for ventilators and oxygen equipment, some of which have helped the medical industry cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

“What is our cash-in? My father opened the door for me, but if it wasn’t my passion, I wouldn’t have done well in it. It is easy for us to become successful in this country. This is the land of opportunity.”

Farouk Shami, the founder of billion-dollar business Farouk Systems in Houston, Texas, and a frequent guest on former President Donald Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice,” came to the US in 1965 and entered a business that his father opposed and criticized.

“I went into a beauty school and my dad was very upset with it and said he would disown me … it was not a business for a man, my father said,” Shami recalled from his company’s Houston office headquarters.

“I specialized in hair color when hair color was not in fashion. I told my father I would be the best hairdresser in the world.”

Shami said his personal experience pushed him to success: “I was allergic to hair color and my doctor said I should quit, but I experimented and developed hair coloring that was organic.”

Today, Shami has 46 hair patents and his company operates in 150 countries around the world with sales of more than $1 billion.

Rami Kashou, the CEO Rami Kashou Brand, was born in Jerusalem, Palestine before growing up in Ramallah where he learned about fashion and clothing from his mother.

Kashou appeared on the hit TV show “Operation Runway” competing with designers from around the world.

He created fashion designs for Jordan’s Queen Rania and for television reality star Kim Kardashian.

“It starts with my parents, a father who was a self-made businessman who has worn many different hats and who taught me to jump with courage and take risks,” Kashou said.

“And I had a wonderful mother who supported me from a young age, who handed me fabrics through my parents’ travels. I was able to join her with the local seamstress to design her friends’ looks.”

Kashou said that he was inspired to succeed because of the environment of his childhood, in Ramallah under Israel’s military occupation.

“Coming from an atmosphere of apartheid and occupation, and plenty of hours of quarantine under military force, I think that is where at times dreams are born, from the darkest corners of life,” Kashou said.

“The dreams to become a designer came from the lack of childhood space, growing up among jeeps, soldiers, intimidation, violence and occupation. I think the subconscious choice of creativity and design kind of happened as a way of coping with a difficult reality which I lived and endured.”

Kashou studied design in the US and launched his fashion business producing evening wear.

Manal Saab, CEO of Sorensen Gross Construction Services based in Flint, Michigan, provides staffing services to a wide range of industries dominated by men, including automotive manufacturing and construction.

“As a woman in business, the bar has to be set much higher because unfortunately we live in a world where people see a woman, an immigrant, and someone with an accent and they ask, what can she bring to the table?” Saab explained.

“In everything I do I try to build bridges with others who are similar to me.”

Muthana said that being a woman in a male-driven business can be challenging, adding: “When I walk into a room in this industry, I am the only woman. I am the only brown person. And I am definitely the only hijabee.” 

She said she succeeds by defining her own core values and aligning herself with those who share them.

Samy Kobrosly, who co-founded Snacklins, is the son of Tunisian immigrants who settled in Iowa in the 1980s.

A former radio personality and chef, Samy Kobrosly was obsessed with the idea of a meat-free pork rind after joking with a friend about his inability to partake in the classic snack given his Muslim upbringing.

After rounds of experimentation, he landed on a simple recipe of yuca, mushrooms, and onions to create a crunchy, airy, 100 percent vegan and plant-based crisp that resembled a pork rind.

“I am a fan of irony, a person who is a Muslim who made a vegan pork rind … that kind of joke only went so far. Everyone laughs at that, but moving forward, my next job was offering the opportunity to people I saw who did not have that opportunity,” Kobrosly said.

Kobrosly took his product to an episode of “Shark Tank” and won a $250,000 investment from billionaire Mark Cuban to create the 80-calorie, gluten-free, vegan pork-rind puffed chip from simple ingredients.

Saab closed the event: “In order for you to truly succeed, you have to be very passionate about what you are doing. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”


Large protests held in solidarity with Palestinians around the world

Large protests held in solidarity with Palestinians around the world
Updated 12 May 2021

Large protests held in solidarity with Palestinians around the world

Large protests held in solidarity with Palestinians around the world
  • The tensions in Jerusalem have threatened to reverberate throughout the region

LONDON: Large protests were held in solidarity with Palestinians around the world, including in London, as well as in Muslim-majority countries including Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Tunisia and Turkey.
Protesters gathered outside Downing Street, the residence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson against an Israeli court ruling to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
Israel’s Supreme Court postponed a key ruling Monday that could have forced dozens of Palestinians from their homes, citing the “circumstances.”

The recent round of violence began when Israel blocked off a popular spot where Muslims traditionally gather each night during Ramadan at the end of their daylong fast. Israel later removed the restrictions, but clashes quickly resumed amid tensions over the planned eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.
The tensions in Jerusalem have threatened to reverberate throughout the region. 
In Jordan, protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy, burning Israeli flags and chanting “Shame, shame the embassy is still there” and “Death to Israel!“

Pro-Palestinian protesters march past parliament as they participate in a demonstration against Israeli attacks on Palestinians after at least 28 people were killed following clashes over the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, in central London on May 11, 2021. (AFP)

Palestinians scuffled again with Israeli officers in riot gear on Tuesday evening, although less intensely than on previous nights.
Palestinian man Siraj, 24, said he had suffered a spleen injury from a rubber bullet fired by the police.
“They shot everyone, young and old people,” he said.
Amnesty International has accused Israel of using “abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters.”
(With AFP and AP)

 


Pakistan refuses air bases for US after Afghan pullout

Pakistan refuses air bases for US after Afghan pullout
Updated 12 May 2021

Pakistan refuses air bases for US after Afghan pullout

Pakistan refuses air bases for US after Afghan pullout
  • Islamabad’s role is to be ‘a partner in peace,’ says foreign minister

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Tuesday it will not provide air bases to the US after the troop withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan, vowing to protect the nation’s interests and support the Afghan peace process.

“No. We don’t intend to allow boots on the ground here, and Pakistan isn’t transferring any base (to the US),” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a press conference in the capital Islamabad.

Last month, US President Joe Biden said that the remaining 2,500 foreign troops will leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, more than four months after the initial deadline of May 1 set by the Taliban and Washington as part of a historic accord signed in Doha more than a year ago.

He warned the Taliban that the US could defend itself and its partners from attacks as it draws down its forces, and that Washington would “reorganize its counterterrorism capabilities and assets in the region” to prevent the emergence of another terrorist threat.

The removal of the remaining US troops coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, which spurred America’s entry into lengthy wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Qureshi said that his government had formulated an “explicit policy” regarding partnership with the US for peace in Afghanistan.

“We will be partners in peace, and this will be our role — the role of a facilitator,” he said.

In his congressional testimony last month, Gen. Kenneth Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, said that Washington is engaged in “a significant” diplomatic effort to determine where it will base a counterterrorism force in the region to deter terrorist groups after all American troops leave the country.”

He added: “No such understanding, however, currently exists with any of Afghanistan’s neighbors for housing the proposed anti-terrorism forces.”

Qureshi denied there had been pressure on Pakistan from the US to provide air bases, saying: “There is no pressure. Pakistan will protect its interests.”

He said that Islamabad hoped to see peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“It’s our need, and we want it to happen this way,” he said, vowing to continue support for the US-led Afghan peace process.

Afghans will have to take ownership of the peace process to make it a success, he said.

“The basic responsibility for peace lies with the Afghans, and we are praying for their success.” 

Qureshi also welcomed the Taliban’s announcement of a three-day cease-fire during the Eid holidays in Afghanistan on Monday.

“This is a positive development. The reduction in violence will help provide a conducive environment for negotiations,” he said.

Pakistan’s military bases and land routes played a crucial role in facilitating and sustaining the US-led military invasion of landlocked Afghanistan.

Islamabad has long retaken control of its bases from the US forces, and defense analysts said it would not be in the country’s interest to hand these over to Washington once again.

“The US wants to maintain its surveillance of Afghanistan after the troops’ withdrawal, and that is why it is looking for options in the region to house aircraft, drones and maintenance systems,” Lt. Gen. (retd) Amjad Shoaib, a defense analyst, told Arab News.

He added that Washington “may maintain its presence in India” with which it has already signed a logistics support agreement, but “even then they would need Pakistan’s permission to use the air corridor for any drone or jet flight to Afghanistan.”

“We have already suffered a lot due to America’s war in Afghanistan and cannot sustain it further by providing military bases,” he added.

Related


Horror as 71 bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims found along Ganges river

Horror as 71 bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims found along Ganges river
Updated 12 May 2021

Horror as 71 bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims found along Ganges river

Horror as 71 bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims found along Ganges river
  • Discovery of half-burnt, decomposed bodies sends shock waves among locals in the Buxar district of Bihar

NEW DELHI: Local authorities in the Buxar district of India’s eastern state of Bihar on Tuesday confirmed the discovery of 71 dead bodies, suspected to be of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victims, after they washed ashore along the banks of the river Ganges. 

The discovery sent shock waves and panic among locals in the Chausa town of the Buxar district on Monday after they found the half-burnt, decomposed bodies along the river, confirming media reports that the pandemic had spread to rural areas of India, the global epicenter of the pandemic. 

“We have conducted the postmortem of 71 bodies on Monday and preserved their DNA for future investigation,” Kanhaiya Kumar, the district’s public relations officer, told Arab News. 

He added that the “bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition and had floated in from the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh.”

Bihar’s Buxar district shares its border with the Ghazipur area of the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. The River Ganges, which starts from the Himalayas, crisscrosses through Uttar Pradesh before entering Bihar, flowing into Bengal and eventually merging with the Bay of Bengal. 

Locals, however, dispute the district administration’s claims that the bodies came from the neighboring state. 

“The fact remains that the water in the river Ganges is shallow these days, and at many places between Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the river is dry. How  can the bodies come from the other state?” Kapindra Kishore, a Buxar-based journalist, told Arab News. 

“The villagers are claiming over 100 bodies were floating, and they say that many deaths are taking place in the rural areas that are not being reported,” he added. 

On Tuesday, India registered more than 330,000 cases and 3,700 deaths, slightly lower than Monday. 

Out of the total tally, Bihar reported over 10,000 cases and 75 deaths. 

Some, however, allege that the data is being underreported. 

“There is a community transfer of the virus this time, and many are dying in villages without adequate medical supply. You will never get the actual data because people are dying at home without going to the hospital,” Ajit Kumar Singh, a local legislator from the Dumraon area of the Buxar district, told Arab News. 

“If earlier 15 to 20 bodies were being cremated per day in the district crematorium, now at least 100 are being burnt every day,” he explained, adding that many locals cannot afford the expensive wood necessary for the funeral pyres. 

“Just like COVID-19 medicines are being sold in the black market these days, so too the wood for cremation is being supplied at a higher rate,” he said. 

“Poor people who can’t afford wood at higher rates throw the dead bodies into the river in a half-burnt state. This is the reality today,” he added. 

According to official data, the Buxar district has registered 78 deaths so far in the second wave of COVID-19. 

Doctors say the number is much higher than reported. 

“The situation is really grim in Buxar and adjoining areas, and the discovery of the bodies at Chausa shows how bad we are placed,” Dr. Mahendra Prasad, a Buxar-based doctor and district president of the Indian Medical Association, told Arab News. 

“Not even cities are prepared to handle the crisis, much less villages. People are dying in rural areas in large numbers, which are not reflected in the official data,” he added. 

There are about 100 beds in hospitals across Buxar, which has a population of more than 1.7 million. 

“The administration was not ready to handle the situation. Now they are working on it, but whether it will be adequate is difficult to say. We are dependent on God’s mercy,” Prasad said. 

One of the worst-affected villages in the district is Dharahara, which reported 15 deaths in the past week. 

“In every village, there are more than 20 people who are COVID-19-positive, and in my village itself, in just over one week, some 15 people have lost their lives,” Rama Shankar, a Dharhara-based student activist, told Arab News. 

“The government has failed us completely. People are dying due to a shortage of oxygen, a lack of beds in hospitals and the complete negligence of the health sector,” Shankar said, adding that “essential medicine like Remdesivir, which should normally be available for no more than $50, costs $500 in the black market.” 

He said that “the virus has spread into the community, but the government is not doing mass testing to break the chain of infection. We are suffering because the government has failed us.”


India buys 300,000 doses of Remdesivir from Egypt

India buys 300,000 doses of Remdesivir from Egypt
Updated 11 May 2021

India buys 300,000 doses of Remdesivir from Egypt

India buys 300,000 doses of Remdesivir from Egypt
  • The shipments came as part of Egypt’s support and solidarity with friendly countries

CAIRO: India has bought 300,000 doses of the Remdesivir drug from Egypt’s Eva Pharma company as it grapples with a coronavirus crisis.

The Indian Embassy in Cairo on Monday signed an agreement to procure 300,000 doses of the drug that is used to treat coronavirus infections.

The signing ceremony was attended by Indian envoy Ajit Gupte and Riad Armanious, CEO of Eva Pharma.

It was held at the embassy of India in Cairo, with the embassy acting on behalf of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Gupte thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly for directing relevant Egyptian authorities to cooperate with India in the medical emergency.

He expressed confidence in Remdesivir to effectively heal of tens of thousands of coronavirus patients.

Gupte praised the keenness of the Egyptian state and Egyptian national institutions to support India.

He said that the sale of the drug will play a “crucial” role in India’s fight against coronavirus. The country is expected to receive doses quickly over the next few days, according to the Middle East News Agency.

Armanious affirmed his confidence in Remdesivir speeding up the recovery of Indian coronavirus patients.

He said that the drug prevents the virus from reproducing inside the cells of the human body and stops its spread, which will reduce death rates in India.

Armanious added that the drug has achieved “great success” across several continents after it was exported to a large number of countries.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population sent three military aircraft to India loaded with large quantities of medical aid.

The shipments came as part of Egypt’s support and solidarity with friendly countries, and implements the directives of El-Sisi, an official statement said.

India is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19, with high rates of infections and deaths amid an acute shortage of medicine, medical supplies, and prevention and protection tools.


Spanish rally outside Israeli Embassy in Madrid

Spanish rally outside Israeli Embassy in Madrid
Updated 11 May 2021

Spanish rally outside Israeli Embassy in Madrid

Spanish rally outside Israeli Embassy in Madrid
  • Most of the crowd on Tuesday in Madrid waved Palestinian flags and shouted “Israel, assassin of the Palestinian people”
  • Protestors wore face masks as stipulated by Spanish health laws to fight pandemic

MADRID: A few dozen people have gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in the Spanish capital to protest Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians.
Most of the crowd on Tuesday in Madrid waved Palestinian flags. They shouted “Israel, assassin of the Palestinian people” and “it’s Palestine, not Israel” in Spanish.
Some held up photos of Palestinians being arrested by Israeli forces. All wore face masks as stipulated by Spanish health laws to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The escalation in the conflict was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem.