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Mahmoud Al-Arab, The billionaire Who Started His Life with 40 Pennies

A self-made businessman who started from scratch. After a journey of struggle became one of the leading men of trade, industry, and economics in Egypt.
A man of great humility did not fall for the positions he held, believed that the economy had its men and that politics had its men.
Despite his little education, he was able to build an industrial fortress and reach a high economic position, without the support of anyone and without obtaining loans from banks.

Who is Mahmoud Al-Araby? 

Mahmoud Al-Araby is the former president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, owned Toshiba Elaraby shops and factories.

He was born in 1932 in a poor rural family in the village “Abu Raqba”, in Egypt. He passed away on September 9, 2021.

His father died at a young age. He moved to Cairo to a Salesman in a small shop at the age of ten.
In 1954, he joined the military service for three years.

Al-Araby was proud that he belonged to a poor family that did not possess any inch of land.
He began memorizing the Quran when he was 3 years old. It taught him honesty and the difference between permitted and prohibited (Halal and Haram).

How did Al-Araby start his business? 

Mahmoud began the industry with the establishment of a small factory for colors and inks, then he worked in stationary.
He traveled to Japan to obtain an attorney from one of the major companies in the electronics industry.
After his return, he established a factory. He entered the elections of the chambers of Commerce to become its president for 12 years and turned to politics for a short time when he became a deputy in the people’s Parliament for a short time as he refused to repeat this political experience afterward.

The young trader

Al-Araby started trading at a very young age in cooperation with his elder brother, who worked in Cairo.
“I was saving about 30 or 40 pennies a year to pay it to my brother, so he can supply me with goods from Cairo before Eid al-Fitr. Goods like fireworks and balloons that I sell to my friends in front of our house. I used to earn about 15 pennies, which I gave to my brother to buy me other goods to sell in Al-Adha Eid.” Al-Araby stated.
After that, Al-Araby moved to work in a shop in the Al-Hussein neighborhood and his salary was 120 pennies a month and kept working in this shop until 1949 and his salary reached 320 pennies.

In 1963, Al-Araby thought of the importance of independence. But he had nothing to start with, he and a colleague thought of the same idea. So, they thought of investing with a rich man.

He and his colleague will share their efforts, while the second party contributes his money.
The project capital was 5000 pounds. From this he began his own business with his first shop in Cairo.

The secret of his profession

After Al-Araby started his new business only three days, his partner got sick for two years. During that period he managed the shop alone and grew his trade very quickly. Achieved a profit exceeding the profits of 10 shops combined.
Al-Araby is famous for his honesty, which is the secret of his success.
The partnership lasted two years. There was a dispute about the removal of the third sick partner, which Arab objected to.
Finally, their partnership with the Richman broke up.
Al-Arabi and his partner bought another shop, and the old partners returned to offer him their shop again, and thus they owned two shops instead of one

Al-Araby trade was mainly based on office and school tools, but the government decided in the 60s to exchange school supplies for students free of charge, which means that the Araby trade no longer exists.
So, it was replaced by the trade of electrical devices, especially television, radio, and audiobooks, and Araby turned his trade entirely to electrical devices in the mid-seventies.
Till he met one of the Japanese students who used to study in the American University in Cairo, who was always frequenting his shops.
This Japanese person worked for the Japanese company “Toshiba”.
He wrote a report to his company, in which he confirmed that the Al-Araby was the right person to represent Toshiba in Egypt. So, the company agreed to give him their attorney.

Politics is a waste of time

As for the reasons for his reluctance to the world of politics, Al-Araby said:

“I am a merchant and entered the industry through the door of Commerce, which I understand, and in the eighties, the governor of Cairo asked me then to run for the people’s Assembly, but I refused, and then the next governor asked me, and after a long pressure I agreed to run for one tournament, but I see that being a member of the parliament is waste of time for me, my factory and my shop were my first interest. Politics has its men and I’m not one of them”

How did Al-Araby contribute to reducing unemployment?

Al-Araby started his business with one worker.
But today his companies have more than 13000 workers, explaining that the parent company in Japan employs 180,000 employees, and hopes to reach this figure in Egypt to help the youth and contribute to the elimination of unemployment.

He played an influential and pivotal role in developing the performance of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Commerce, as well as contributing to the development and settlement of the national industry.

The salaries in Al-Araby company

Al-Arabi asserts that the employees of his companies receive lucrative salaries that vary according to competence, qualification, and experience.

He completely refuses to work in his companies any smoker, as required by the terms of appointment. 

Al-Araby opiniontowards the Palestinian cause 

He also refused to deal with any Israeli trader. He affirmed that, as long as the problem of the occupation of the Palestinian territories remains, he will not deal with any trader from Israel. 

Also, he refused to meet with an Israeli trade delegation during his presidency of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce for the same reason that he rejects the idea of normalization with Israel.

His legacy is in the heart of thousands of Egyptians

Al-Araby was a human being in the true sense of the word, lover of charitable deeds, compassionate to the poor, and secretly provides aid to the needy without announcing or appearing in the media, and therefore he won everyone’s love and everyone’s grief over his passing.

Mahmoud Al-Araby will remain a symbol of the economy, and his struggle and determination journey will remain a role model for generations and confirmation of the value of work and diligence.