Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan, was born in Jaffa in 1929, and began his studies at the Ayyubid School there; he then joined Anahda College in Jerusalem, headed by Palestine’s leading educator, Khalil Sakakini. In 1951, he graduated from the American University in Beirut with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
From the early 1980s, Al-Qattan began his active involvement in social, charitable and developmental work. He was one of the founders of the Welfare Association, Palestine’s governor in the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, and member of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Beirut. Al-Qattan supported many Palestinian and Arab students in their university studies, and provided support to many organizations such as the Centre for Arab Unity Studies, the Ahmad Bahaa Edin Foundation, the Institute for Palestine Studies, Birzeit University, and many other institutions.
In 1969, during the Palestine National Council held in Cairo, he was elected Speaker, a post he would resign a few days later after the PLO factions refused to agree on a unified command of the organization’s military and financial assets. This marked the end of his direct involvement in politics, although he remained a member of the PNC until his resignation in 1990, along with his friends Edward Said and Ibrahim Abu Loghod, in protest against the PLO’s pro-Saddam stance during the Gulf Crisis.
In spite of his successful business career, Al-Qattan was deeply involved in Palestinian and Arab politics. He represented his people on several international visits, accompanying Ahmed Al-Shuqairi to China in 1964 and supporting the nascent PLO in its infancy days in Kuwait.
In 1994, he launched the A.M. Qattan Foundation in London which by 1998 became fully active in Palestine through a range of projects and programmes in the cultural and educational sectors. In May 1999, Al-Qattan returned to Palestine for the first time since 1948, visited his hometown Jaffa, and accepted an honorary doctorate from Birzeit University.
Lately, in March 2011, Al-Qattan announced that he is bequeathing a quarter of his wealth to the Foundation to ensure its independence and sustainability. He also announced that he will support the establishment of a strategic studies institute, focussed on Palestinian issues.