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(Beirut) - Human Rights Watch mourns the passing of the philanthropist Ali Ghandour, whose support was critical to building our organization’s role in promoting and protecting human rights in Lebanon. He died on August 29, 2020, at the age of 89.

Ali Ghandour © 2020 Private

Ghandour greatly expanded the reach and impact of Human Rights Watch in Lebanon and offered his advice and friendship to the organization as one of the founders of the Human Rights Watch Beirut Committee in 2010. His intellectual and financial support were critical in enabling Human Rights Watch to cover human rights crises and respond to them in real-time. We will be forever grateful not only for his support and mentorship but also for his insightful suggestions over the years.

A native of Lebanon, Ghandour earned his degree in Aeronautics Engineering from New York University in 1954 and held many important positions in his career, including as the former civil aviation, critical air transport, and tourism adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan. He served on the boards of multiple corporations and universities including ARAM International Investments, Jordan Tourism Resorts Company, the American University of Beirut, and Georgetown University. He founded multiple organizations, including Arab Air Cargo, the Royal Jordanian Academy of Aeronautics in Amman, Arab Wings Amman, and the Royal Jordanian Falcons.

He also served on the boards of Reaching Hearts for Kids,  the Royal Society of Fine Arts, the Royal Endowment for Culture and Education in Amman, the American Center of Oriental Research, the Queen Noor Al-Hussein Foundation, and the World Aerospace Foundation Organization. 

Ghandour received many awards including the Grand Cordons of the Order of Al Nahda of Jordan; Grand Decoration of Honor in Silver with Sash for service to the Republic of Austria; Tanda Kehormatan, Indonesia; Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Merite de la Legion d'Honneur, France; Commendatore dell-Ordine Al Merito della Republica Italiana, Italy; the National Order of the Cedars, Lebanon; the 2014 WAAAUB Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award; and the shield of the International College.

Human Rights Watch extends our deepest condolences to the Ghandour family, especially to Ali’s wife Iltaf and his children, Amal, Asma, Fadi, and Raghida. We hope they will find solace in knowing that their father’s legacy lives on through the many educational, humanitarian, and cultural organizations he supported.

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