Secretary General of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) Najib Saab announced to AFED community the passing of founding trustee Maroun Semaan at hospital in Boston, following one year of treatment, in a message circulated on 3 May.
Dear AFED community,
With profound regrets and great sadness I am sorry to advise that AFED Founding Trustee Maroun Semaan passed away. This is a tremendous loss not only to all of us, his family and to those who knew him personally, but also to countless people who were touched by his philanthropy and compassion.
Maroun Semaan was among a few in the corporate sector who early realized the need for extensive efforts to promote prudent environmental policies and action across the Arab region. His sincere efforts, together with other interested personalities, led to the establishment of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) in June 2006. Maroun meticulously oversaw the growth of AFED into a regionally recognized organization whose recommendations were adopted by several Arab governments. Maroun was the main driver to invite the corporate sector to AFED, and his endorsement led to the establishment of its Corporate Environmental Responsibility Programme. Throughout his tenure at AFED as Trustee, and until he underwent a critical surgery in Spring 2016, Maroun never missed a Board meeting nor an annual conference, generously contributing to support AFED programmes.
From an AFED Board meeting in Sharjah - Maroun seated to the left.
A successful and influential businessman and dedicated philanthropist, Maroun was member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut (AUB), to which he was major contributor, as well as the American University of Sharjah (AUS), alongside AFED. Maroun graduated in mechanical engineering from AUB in 1977. In 1991 he joined Petrofac to co-establish Petrofac International, a petroleum facilities corporation, which developed into a FTSE 100 company, in which he was co-founder and major shareholder. He was President when he retired from Petrofac on 31st December 2013, to concentrate on the creation of multiple successful businesses and partnerships, mainly in the field of renewable energy. I always talked about him in international and regional corporate events as a living example of what AFED stands for.
In 2011, Mr. Semaan established the Semaan Foundation in Lebanon to support philanthropic activities in the fields of education, healthcare as well as social welfare.
Maroun hosted AFED's Executive Committee meeting at his office in Dubai in February 2016, and was as energetic as ever. Few weeks later, he was diagnosed with brain tumor, and underwent a critical surgery in Houston, followed by treatment in Boston since then. When I visited him there after the surgery, we talked, reflected, prayed, and walked for miles. He was brave and stoic, and staunch believer in the will of God.
We were colleagues at AUB, from where we graduated together in 1977, he as mechanical engineer, I as architect. We both received scholarships to be able to continue our education. At AUB, we worked together in a student movement with social development goals, Wujhat Nazar (Point of View) which I established in 1973. We shared dreams of contributing to positive change in society. From then, our friendship and careers developed, always sharing a common vision. He always was the most compassionate, energetic and humble person I ever knew.
Maroun's legacy should continue. As AFED is concerned, we owe him to make this a pledge.
I am sure we all share this heavy loss with his family, and are with them in their bereavement.
God Bless his soul.