American Univesity of Beirut

Another AUB figure wins the confidence to lead

​​​Safa Jafari Safa,, Office of Communications

​Dr. Omar al-Razzaz is AUB’s 10th alumnus to become prime minister of Jordan. He was 
appointed last month by Jordan’s King Abdullah bin al-Hussein to form a new government, which won the Lower House’s vote of confidence last week. ​

​Born in 1960, Dr. Omar Munif al-Razzaz is a Harvard-educated economist who is familiar with 
the challenges that face the Middle East. He enrolled at AUB’s faculty of engineering from 1979 to 1981 and holds a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a PhD from Harvard University in planning with a minor in economics, and a post-doctorate from Harvard Law School. 

Razzaz taught in the International Development and Regional Planning Programs at MIT. He served at the World Bank in both Washington and the region. Between 2002 and 2006, he was the World Bank’s country manager in Lebanon, with experience covering areas of private sector development and infrastructure finance. He then returned to Jordan to head the Social Security Corporation between 2006 and 2010, and, between 2011 and 2012, led the national team responsible for the preparation of a national employment strategy. Razzaz also headed the International Commission for Evaluating Privatization in Jordan from 2013 to 2014.

He also served as chairman of the Jordan Strategy Forum and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah II Fund for Development. He is member of the board for several private and non-profit organizations and is author of publications in refereed journals.

In his last post as education minister, Razzaz oversaw plans to overhaul the country’s traditional state-education system. Described as a capable administrator by officials who have worked with him in a series of government posts, Razzaz has also worked on reforming the state pension fund. As prime minister, he is expected to take a gradual approach to policy changes and fundamental reform. He has started several initiatives in that direction, toward executing his pledged launch of a nationwide dialogue and strategy to ensure social justice and serve the national economy with development that reaches the underprivileged segments of society.

During a visit to Amman earlier this year, AUB President Fadlo Khuri met with Dr. Razzaz, then Minister of Education, within a series of meetings to discuss various areas including the water-energy-food-health nexus, education, technology, the youth, the future of the region. 
In his speech at this year’s reunion ceremony, AUB President Fadlo Khuri spoke about the impact of AUB’s alumni worldwide as they prove to be “remarkably efficient, effective, transformative, and successful” agents of change.

“Our friend Omar al-Razzaz is just an example of the type of impact we have in the world,” said President Khuri of Razzaz who – like figures in Jordanian history Samir al-Rifai’ and Wasfi al-Tal, who served multiple times as prime ministers of Jordan as early as 1944 and 1962 – studied at AUB and took off to lead and serve. “Of course, as a classic AUB alumnus, he doesn’t get to become prime minister when things are easy. As the saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”​

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