DARING OPINION

Welcome to Daringopinion.com
The Website of Elie Elhadj
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Elie Elhadj
 
I am a banker with a thirty-year career in New York, Philadelphia, London, and Riyadh. I was during most of the 1990s Chief Executive Officer  of Arab National Bank, a 110-branch banking institution in Saudi Arabia. My task at ANB was to re-engineer and automate its operations, tighten its financial and credit controls, and introduce new services. The number of employees was reduced from 2,600 in early 1991 to 1,400 at the end 1997. Net profit increased substantially. The culture of the institution was modernized. The stage was set for future growth. In 1995, the bank was selected by “Computer World” Magazine, as one of the 16 model banks worldwide in the efficient use of modern technology. In its first credit rating in 1995 by a U.S. rating agency, ANB received from Bankwatch the agency's highest rating.
 
During most of the 1980s, I was  Managing Director of Al Rajhi Investment Corporation in London. This was a most innovative assignment. It involved creating and managing a new investment advisory company in London for Al Rajhi Bank of Saudi Arabia, currently with 550 branches and assets of  about $50 billions. An Islamic non-interest bearing short-term trade-finance instrument was developed and introduced to world markets for the first time. Several billion dollars were lent to many among the largest corporations in Europe, Japan and the Far East. The new financing instrument has become the standard non-interest bearing short-term trade-related financing provided by Islamic banks today.
 
My formative years in banking were between 1974 and 1980 at the Philadelphia National Bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in London. The early 1970s I spent in the finance departments of Sinclair Oil Corporation (merged into Atlantic Richfield Oil Company) and American Electric Power Company, both in New York City.   

 
Born in Syria, my early schooling encompassed Damascus University in Damascus, Syria (BA-Accounting), University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (MA-Business and Applied Economics), and New York University in New York City (completed Ph.D. course work in Economics but no dissertation). 
 
In 1998, I opted for early retirement from banking in order to seek answers to questions on the cultures and religions, politics and reform prospects in Arab countries. I enrolled as a student at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies.  

Seven years later, with an M.A. in History and a Ph.D. degree, I wrote The Islamic Shield. The book addresses Arab resistance to democratic and religious reforms and the consequences that such resistance might have on the Middle East and the wider world. 
 
 
For details on both books, please see the next page: Books by Elie Elhadj. 
 
In naming my Website Daring Opinion, I shall seek and propound  truthful  answers to sensitive questions relating to the cultures and religions, politics and reform prospects in Arab countries.

Harold Pinter, in his Nobel Prize for Literature inaugural lecture in December 2005 described the conflict between politicians and revealing the truth as follows:
 
"The majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed."