Man of Opportunity

Faisal Aljamal with four out of his six children in Khorfakkan, Sharjah.

Faisal Aljamal had to choose between his education and providing for his family. He chose to provide, so that his kids receive the education he lost.

By Sarah Al Saeid

SHARJAH – “At that time, I had four kids in college, and that was the one thing I was committed to. I was willing not to eat, not to pay my electricity bills, and even get myself into debt… for their education,” said Faisal Aljamal.

Back in the days, very few people had the guts to venture out on their own and start a business from scratch. Aljamal, 63, was one of the few, for nothing was off limits for him if it meant that he could provide a better life, a better education for his children. 

Aljamal, who fled the town of Beit Sourik in Jerusalem with his family at nine years of age understood well the meaning of opportunity. 

At 16, Aljamal’s father, who was a General in the Arab Liberation Army, passed away, leaving the young Palestinian boy with his mother and younger siblings to their own fate in Amman. 

“I studied in a military school in Amman, Jordan, and I graduated when I was 16 years old. I got a scholarship to continue my higher education in Baghdad, Iraq. However, the major I was supposed to go into didn’t really suit me, it was physical education,” said Aljamal.  

Despite his hesitancy about the field of study, Aljamal took out his father’s leather suitcase, packed his belongings and headed to Baghdad. 

Not very long after, the only option he was given came crashing before him. Though he had a full scholarship, he did not have the luxury to choose what he wanted to study in Iraq. He wasn’t able to afford studying in Amman either and physical education at that time had no real job prospects. 

“I couldn’t just sit there and lament my lack of opportunities. I was 16 yes, but I had to provide,” said Aljamal..

The Baghdad crossover came to an end with the realization that it was not for him. In Amman, Aljamal was able to land his first job at Al Bihar Insurance Company, as a postman. His job was distributing mail to the employees, and his salary was 35 JOD, which is equivalent to 175 AED today. 

A year later, Al Bihar Insurance went bankrupt.

“I was devastated. We had no financial support, and it put a burden on not only myself, but my family as well,” said Aljamal. 

It was luck, according to Aljamal, that got the 17-year-old boy a job in Al Bihar’s international branch, and landed him in Dubai in 1976, with nothing but his father’s leather suitcase in hand. 

The 30 years spent in the insurance world translated to years of going up higher in ranks, from an employee in Al Bihar, to the Manager of Sharjah’s United Insurance branch. 

“Over the years that I spent in United Insurance, I felt like I was addicted to work. Even on the days that I had to work from home, I would wake up at 6 a.m., put on my suit and set up my desk. Sometimes, I would get in my car and drive for a bit, to feel like I’m actually about to start my workday,” he continued. 

Aljamal is now the founder of an Insurance Consultancy Company. 

Regardless of the hardships, he was able to save. The only thing that he takes pride in is his children’s education, and the fact that he can give back to the people of Beit Sourik, what he wished he had.

According to Aljamal, everyone has what it takes, but not everyone was given an equal opportunity to explore and venture.

“I can say with all pride that I educated all six of my children. All of them received their education in engineering, graphic design, and international studies from the top universities in UAE and Jordan,” said Aljamal.

On the two days from which he works from home, and those days that he does not, Aljamal continues to wake up at 6 a.m., put on his suit, fix his tie, drench himself in his strong cologne, take his car keys and his father’s leather suitcase and head to work. 

Opportunity is what young Aljamal did not have, and so opportunity is what he created.