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It is with great sadness that the James A. Baker III Institute notes the passing of Hasib Sabbagh, a prominent Palestinian businessman and philanthropist and a long-time supporter of the institute.

Sabbagh endowed the institute"s Diana Tamari Sabbagh Chair in Middle Eastern Studies in memory of his late wife. The chair has most recently been held by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, the first woman to hold a seat on the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, currently president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

Born in 1920 in Palestine, Sabbagh was the founder, director and chairman of the CCC Group, one of the Middle East's largest and most highly respected construction companies. He was active in political life as a member of the Palestine National Council and the Palestine Central Council, and believed in peace based on a two-state solution. Sabbagh was also a strong supporter of philanthropic causes, serving as chairman for the Palestinian Student Fund and deputy chairman of the Health Care Organization of the West Bank and Gaza.

After the death of his wife in 1978, Sabbagh created a foundation in her name that has made major contributions to education and to charities in the Middle East, the United States and elsewhere. In 1993, he signed an agreement with Georgetown University establishing the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding  as a way to promote understanding between the Muslim world and the West, as well as between Islam and Christianity. He also endowed the Hasib J. Sabbagh Chair in Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1994.

 Businessman and philanthropist Hasib Sabbagh attends a dinner in his honor at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy on September 17, 1997.

Businessman and philanthropist Hasib Sabbagh, right, attends a dinner in his honor at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy on September 17, 1997. At left is Baker Institute founding director Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian.