Born in Kuwait but Palestinian at heart, Loay Khoury has lived in Cyprus, Jordan, Saudi, Bahrain, Canada and the USA and has extensively traveled across the world. Today the senior executive of the largest Middle East-based construction management firm, Projacs, the businessman believes the future of Palestine lies primarily in education.
“As a Palestinian who never lived in Palestine myself, I have always felt that the one thing that should distinguish us as Palestinians in this unfair world is education,” he says. “My mother and my father always told me that if we lost the land, the only thing we cannot lose is education; that is our passport to the world.”
How has education played a role in your career as a Palestinian?
Throughout my life, I have had contact with different cultures, and I try to encourage my children to do the same in order to help them understand the importance of dealing with different cultures. I have three kids, each one in a different country: US, Canada, and Bahrain.
I am a believer in globalization in business, but with the full understanding of local cultures. Palestinians in the diaspora have always understood that because they don’t have a country, but yet they have it in their heart and always try to make the best out of their current location.
And how does education interact with your work at Projacs?
At Projacs, we’ve been labelled as a leading pan-Arab engineering company run by Palestinians. We are some of the few Palestinian institutions that work across the Arab world, and we offer good career opportunities for well-educated Arabs; especially Palestinians, whom we have a soft heart for. Palestinians stand out as one of the best educated in the world, so even though we have some difficulties related to visas, we take that as a challenge and try to attract them when they are at school through our internship programs.
What are the challenges and possibilities of starting projects and managing them in Palestine?
Actually, we opened our office in Ramallah last year, and we are running three projects: the Palestinian Museum, the Arts and Education Fund or Qattan, and the Bank of Palestine. Our mission there has more sentimental than financial value, because the financial returns are not considerable. But we consider this as an investment in Palestine and its people. What we are trying to do is to bring our profession, construction project management, which is new in Palestine, and lead the way into introducing it through its people.
This interview is part of a series on education in Palestine through the work of Hani Qaddumi Scholarship Foundation. Read more of their stories on their official website.