American University of Beirut

Who Is Hamdi Al Zaim

​​0752b95e-6622-4d2b-a892-a469a4c0e965.jpgHamdi Al Zaim was born on December 1931 in Aleppo as the eldest son in a family of 8 children. He graduated with distinction from Damascus University in 1956 with a bachelor degree in Law. 

At the age of 22, he began his career in Aleppo at the family cotton trading and manufacturing business and later moved to the public sector at the age of 32 to serve as the President of the Cotton Marketing Authority. He worked in the public sector for a short period before deciding to embark on his own entrepreneurial journey that will take him through different countries, challenges and successes. 

This journey started in Beirut in 1968 where he established a corporation specialized in manufacturing and trading of electricity cables. That proved to be a successful venture until the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 that forced him to leave Lebanon and shift his manufacturing business to Egypt. 

While the Middle Eastern region was going through many instabilities and wars in the mid 1980s, Hamdi decided to embark on a new industrial ventures that propelled him to become a leading industrialist in the MENA region. The business field was still in power cables but this time the country was Saudi Arabia. 

In 1984, Hamdi relocated to Saudi Arabia and established Riyadh Cables which became over the course of 35 years the pioneer of cable industry in the Middle East. Today, Riyadh Cables Group of Companies employs over 3,800 employees and is present in more than 40 countries while consistently being ranked in the top twenty corporations in Saudi Arabia. 

In parallel to commercial success, Hamdi was very active in philanthropic activities which included the establishment and financing of different initiatives such as: 

  • Building of Al Zaim Mosque, the largest mosque in Aleppo 
  • Establishment of Hamdi Al Zaim Hospital, in Aleppo, which is a charitable hospital providing cardiovascular treatments and kidney dialysis 
  • Establishment of Al Ihsan Foundation for the provision of financial and medical assistance to the needy 
  • Contribution towards the establishment and subsequent continuous financial support for Ajialouna, a leading NGO in Lebanon engaged in charitable, cultural, social, healthcare and educational programs. 
  • Provision of yearly educational scholarship for under privileged individuals 
  • General financial support to a variety of charities in Saudi Arabia 

In January 2016 and at the age of 84, Hamdi Al Zaim was diagnosed with late stage interstitial lung disease, and received medical treatment until passing away shortly after. 

Prior to his death, he instructed his estate to establish a medical and research center for interstitial lung disease with state-of-the-art equipment, treatments, and research capabilities. This center is the first of its kind in the middle east and aims to provide better early diagnosis, multidisciplinary collaboration and innovative treatment of the same disease that he was lately diagnosed with. In addition to the center, a 5 year endowment fund was committed to financially support the treatment of underprivileged individuals. 

In 2017, his estate funded the complete renovation of the Emergency Room center at Al Makassed Hospital in Beirut, which was then named in his memory.

In 2018, a mosque in Riyadh was also totally renovated as a perpetual charitable act in his memory.

Hamdi Al Zaim was first and foremost a humble family man that saw business success as a tool, and not an end, towards giving back to society. 

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