Honoring an Education Hero
Maroun Semaan and his wife Tania, a member of the AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board, at Balamand University

The late Lebanese philanthropist and entrepreneur Maroun Semaan believed deeply in the power of education to transform lives and prepare citizens to be effective leaders. Because of his significant contributions to the advancement of education in Lebanon, AMIDEAST will honor him as the first recipient of the AMIDEAST Education Hero Award.

The AMIDEAST Education Hero Award recognizes outstanding individuals who share AMIDEAST’s commitment to education and expanding opportunities for future generations in Lebanon. It will be bestowed posthumously on October 14, 2017, at the AMIDEAST Award Gala in Beverly Hills.

Education was key to Mr. Semaan’s success. Growing up in modest circumstances, the sixth of seven children  in a middle-class family from a village in the south of Lebanon, he was motivated by the value his parents placed on education. He showed early signs of promise in the public school he attended and ranked first in the whole of Lebanon on the high school baccalaureate government exam. With the help of a scholarship to study at the American University of Beirut, he went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in 1977.

As part of his illustrious career, Mr. Semaan cofounded the oil facilities company Petrofac, which under his direction became a world leader in oil and gas technology, and in 2013 founded the multifaceted investment company AlCazar Capital.

Mr. Semaan’s experience as a scholarship student inspired his dedication to helping others pursue a world-class education. He served as a trustee of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and American University of Sharjah (AUS), supporting these institutions’ efforts to provide scholarships and innovative research programs. Through the Semaan Foundation, which he established in 2011, he provided critical support to the field of education. That included the largest single donation in AUB’s history, exceeding the previously largest gift of $32 million.

The Semaan Foundation also generously benefited other institutions, among them Balamand University, where the new chemical engineering building bears his name, and AMIDEAST/Lebanon, which received funding for scholarship programs and youth-focused initiatives that advanced entrepreneurship and training for English language teachers.

“We are honored that the first AMIDEAST Education Hero Award recognizes a man from Lebanon whose support and advocacy for education made an impact especially in his home country,” said AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board Chair Anis Nassar. “His vision was broad, as he saw his country’s prospects tied to the region’s ability to achieve a brighter future for its youth. Through the institutions that he chose to support, he will have an enduring legacy in Lebanon and beyond.”