August 22 (LP)-Arab Bank’s history is interlinked with that of the Shoman family and its founder Abdul Hameed Shoman, whose personal life reads as an extraordinary tale of success for his time and age.
Born in 1890 in the Palestinian village of Beit Hanina, four miles North of Jerusalem, Shoman was raised in a stone hut, where he began his career at the age of seven as a stone mason working in construction sites.
With ambitions exceeding his age and spanning further than the borders of his village and country, Shoman emigrated to the United States of America at the age of 20 with only USD 32 in hand and became a door-to-door salesman, selling dry-good products in New York and Baltimore. His consecutive successes led him to expand and start a dress-making factory in Manhattan’s garment district.
Despite his success, Shoman was feeling home-sick and began to be consumed with an even larger vision: The establishment of a bank with joint Arab participation, a bank that would play a significant role in shaping the lives of nations and their economies.
Shoman decided to return to Palestine. No sooner had he arrived home for the first time since he left to the new world than he arranged for a meeting in Cairo with Tal’at Pasha Harb, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Egypt. Shoman proposed the idea of establishing a joint Egyptian-Palestinian bank, with a capital of 100,000 Palestinian Pounds; however, political developments in the region forced Harb to put the project on hold.
Nonetheless, Shoman was determined to move forward. With seven investors, and a startup capital of 15,000 Palestinian Pounds, Arab Bank was registered on May 21st, 1930, and commenced its operations in Jerusalem on July 14th of the same year. Finally, Shoman’s vision was fulfilled.
Shoman’s son, Abdul Majeed, was born in Palestine while Shoman was away. At the age of one, his mother passed away and he was taken into the care of his paternal grandmother.
Shoman wanted his son to join him in the US; however, he believed that the boy’s education in his homeland and his mastery of Arabic were more important. He waited until his son completed his primary schooling at Beit Hanina, and his studies in al-Rawda School in Jerusalem before sending for him to come to the US.
Upon Abdul Majeed’s arrival to the US, he was enrolled in a Secondary School in the suburbs of New York, where he met his father for the first time at the young age of 14. Abdul Majeed obtained both his Bachelors and Masters Degree in Economics and Banking at the University of New York (NYU) in 1931, after which he returned to Palestine to assist his father in managing the newly established Arab Bank.
Abdul Majeed worked hard under the guidance of his father. Both Shomans spared no pains in safe-guarding the Bank and the clients’ interests. After the British Mandate Authority withdrew from Palestine in 1948, the Bank lost its branches in Jafa and Haifa. When customers who were obliged to flee outside the country asked for their deposits, the Shomans insisted on fully redeeming all claims. This decision won the Arab Bank a great reputation and became a historical turning point in its growth: it fostered a strong commitment from the Bank towards its customers and ingrained an enormous loyalty from its customers, which prevails to this day.
The lost branches were re-established: Haifa branch was relocated to Beirut followed by Amman, Jaffa branch in Nablus and later Ramallah. When the branch in Jerusalem was caught up in the civil disturbance, the Bank’s activities were moved to offices within the old city of Jerusalem.
In 1948, the Bank’s headquarters were transferred to Amman, Jordan, where it was officially incorporated as a public shareholding company.
Abdul Majeed Shoman became Chairman and General Manager of Arab Bank after his father passed away in 1974, whereby he carried on his father’s mission. The Bank was already well-established with a sound financial reputation and structure. Abdul Majeed was determined to expand the Bank’s activities, and set out to open new branches world wide.
in May, 2000, Abdul Majeed’s son, Abdel Hamid, succeeded to occupy the position of CEO.
Abdel Hamid Shoman, Born in 1947 Shoman is the grandson of the late Mr Abdul Hameed Shoman, who founded Arab Bank in 1930. He commenced his banking career in 1970, after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, from the American University in Beirut (AUB) and receiving extensive formal training in both Midland Bank and Morgan Guaranty. Shoman joined Arab Bank after graduation and has served the Bank in various positions and locations.
Abdul Majeed Shoman passed away on July 5th, 2005. His son was elected Chairman upon his father’s death.
Abdel Hamid Shoman, On Thursday 18 August 2012 announced his resignation from the board of directors of Arab Bank , Ending the presence of any member of the Shoman family in the banking giant his Grandfather envisioned and established,