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Spring 2006 Vol. IV, No. 3

Campaign Update

The Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Katami Trading Room at the Olayan School of Business

“…That’s the world around you—if you don’t keep pace with it, you’re out of it.”

With a new gift to establish AUB’s first trading room, the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business is ensuring that its students will be able to plug into financial markets in “real time.” They’re upping the ante on global education by bridging the gap between the textbook approach to finance and the real world—which is what the trading room is all about.

The trading room, which is the result of a $500,000 pledge by the family of the late Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Katami, will be an ultra modern facility that will give students a chance to see how financial markets work around the world.

The family that made this gift possible has been tied to business—and to AUB—for many years. Born in 1923, Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Katami started his business in his late twenties, after the discovery of oil in Kuwait. He was the first Kuwaiti to start a business in Dubai, sensing the potential of the Dubai market. He was also a liberal who believed in women’s emancipation and encouraged his eight daughters to pursue their educations, which they did—at AUB, the American University in Cairo, and in the United States. After Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Katami passed away in December 1995, his daughters wanted to make a unique gift to AUB in his memory.

The gift holds a special significance for the family because several of Al Katami’s daughters, who are also involved in business, graduated from AUB. Five sisters studied at AUB. The two youngest sisters attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.

When Alya Al Katami, one of the eldest sisters, is asked about her AUB experience, she says “At AUB I had the opportunity to express my opinion freely and to have more self-confidence. I learned how to do my own research, something we were never asked to do in our high schools back home in the early 1960s. I was intrigued to see discussions and disputes about political issues, where you have the freedom to express your opinion.”

According to Dean George Najjar, the new facility fits nicely with ongoing efforts at the school to adopt a more student-centered approach to learning. The trading room will boast technological resources unparalleled in Lebanon, and introduce a new level of education for the region. Students will tap into previously inaccessible databases and real time information analyses, using software including Bloomberg workstations, 30 ReutersXtra workstations, Reuters Research Knowledge, and Reuters Graphical Professional. The trading room will play a pivotal role in business school education for a large community of undergraduate, MBA, and Executive MBA students. It will also offer new possibilities for the executive education program and will attract researchers specializing in emerging markets, with special reference to the Middle East.

Alya hopes that this gift will strengthen the business school’s future and add something special and unique to the faculty. And, like all proud AUBites, she hopes this will make the faculty one of the best schools on campus.
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