American University of Beirut

Suliman Saleh Olayan

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Spirit: The Legacy of Suliman S. Olayan

Suliman Saleh Olayan was born on November 5, 1918, in ‘Unayzah, Saudi Arabia. After a formative experience working for Aramco, he began his entrepreneurial journey in 1947 by founding his first business, General Contracting Company (GCC). Renowned for his business acumen and hard work, Olayan eagerly sought out new opportunities, formed strategic partnerships, and, over the coming decades, built what is today a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio. In addition, as a private sector leader, Olayan forged many commercial, financial, and cultural ties between KSA and the wider world.  Since his passing, on July 4, 2002, his leadership and entrepreneurial spirit have continued to inspire others to pursue their own dreams of business success.

A Legacy of Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy

Suliman S. Olayan's legacy is marked by his significant contributions to business and philanthropy. Despite his success, Olayan never forgot his roots; he remained humble and committed to giving back to his community. He established the Suliman S. Olayan Foundation to support education, health, and social welfare projects in Saudi Arabia and other countries. His legacy is a testament to his unwavering dedication to creating a better world through entrepreneurship and philanthropy.​​​

Empowering Excellence: How a Donor Transformed the Business School

The Olayan Group has made several donations to AUB over the years, including a multi-million-dollar donation to support its academic community and the construction of the new business school building. Inaugurated in 2009, the Suliman S. Olayan Building is now home to AUB’s Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, widely recognized as one of the most prestigious business schools in the Middle East. The Olayan Group’s support has not only enhanced the quality of the institution’s academic programs but bolstered its reputation as a prominent center of higher education in the region.

Looking Forward: Building upon a Legacy

The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at AUB will continue to honor Suliman S. Olayan's legacy by maintaining its high standards of academic excellence, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and cultivating a culture of philanthropy among students and faculty. Inspired by Olayan’s continuous drive to improve, the school is committed to expanding its research programs, strengthening its industry partnerships, and creating new opportunities for students to engage with global business leaders. 

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