Born to a well-known Lebanese family, that is anchored in its Lebanese roots and Arab culture, Adnan Kassar would prove to be a charismatic Chamber leader throughout his life.
Adnan Kassar first completed law studies before venturing into business as a young man, seeking what others considered to be markets too risky, countries too distant, culture too different, or systems too complicated. Challenges would always be a welcome to Adnan Kassar. He would travel the continents carrying the flag of Lebanon and the pride of the Arab culture, to all the new territories he would seek out for business and investment opportunities.
Adnan Kassar's attachment to the mission of Chambers and his attraction to leading Lebanese, Arab and International Chamber positions is based upon his sincere belief that it is the private sector which can best help the public sector achieve economic development and national prosperity.
Nationally, in Lebanon, Adnan Kassar would enter the Chamber world and quickly climb its ladder to then become President of the Lebanese Federation of Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, position he retains for three decades.
Regionally, in the Arab world, he would become, for more than one term, the Chairman of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
Then internationally, he would head the World Chambers Federation, a subsidiary of the International Chamber of Commerce, which he would also later lead, as its Chairman.
All these Chamber positions, on all their levels, would feel the dynamism, charisma, personal care and devotion of Adnan Kassar.
In Lebanon, while Adnan Kassar's vision to grow the Lebanese private sector would be made difficult and challenging by a Civil War and instability, he would maintain his leadership with wise and pragmatic policies, with independence and openness. He would immune the chamber from the influence of politics which strengthened the solidarity of the members in the chamber contributing to the unity of the Lebanese economy.
Throughout the period of hostilities, Adnan Kassar would remain in Lebanon at the head of the private sector, maintaining the required drivers for good economic growth and securing the investments needed for a productive and prosperous Lebanese economy. He did not leave the country except to ensure a visible presence of Lebanon internationally, seeking to keep Lebanon present in world meetings, symposiums and conferences and to make sure that Lebanese products would always be found in all international trade fairs and exhibitions.
Under his presidency, the Beirut and Mount Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry developed into a prime and leading supporter of the Lebanese economy, promoting its free-market principles and private initiatives.
Adnan Kassar's Keenness and sustained belief in the necessity of maintaining the unity of the Lebanese economy incited him to seek a productive coordination and cooperation between the Lebanese Chambers of Commerce. His efforts bore fruit with establishment of the Lebanese Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture. He chaired this Federation until 2005 and succeeded in placing in the core of the Lebanese economy for the benefit of the overall process of economic development in Lebanon with the Federations expertise and experience.
Then regionally, at the head of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, he would successfully lead this General Union which comprises all chambers in 22 Arab countries grouping hundreds of thousands of leading businesses.
Adnan Kassar's sincere belief in the enormous benefits, to the entire Arab world, from closer Arab economic cooperation and integration would drive his mission at the head of this General Union. He would effectively contribute to the creation of the Arab free trade zone. His efforts with all leading Arab Decision-makers would pave the way for the establishment of the Arab Common Market.
He gathers international support for this Arab Common market, by preaching the benefits, to be derived for foreign economic partners and international investors, by pursuing opportunities in the Arab World and targeting an affluent market of over 265 million consumers.
The General Union's international affiliations grows under his leadership, creating joint chambers in various including the US, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Switzerland, Malta, Portugal, Russia and the US.
Adnan Kassar would meet with heads of Arab Countries to call for :
- Economic, fiscal and structural reforms
- The Further strengthening of the private sector and the emergence of its role as the engine of economic development
- Further liberalization and
- A reduction in the government's role in the economy
Then internationally, when Adnan Kassar is elected as Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, the world Business Organization, the media asks:
CAN AN ARAB LEAD THE BUSINESS WORLD?
Adnan Kassar would effectively lead the ICC and prove that an Arab Business leader can indeed lead the business world. Since the beginning of his term as ICC Chairman, he would prove to be a skilled and able leader of this World Business Organization. He successfully expands its international activities and reaffirms its role as the only true representative of the international business community.
Adnan Kassar would seek to establish and develop strong productive relations with leading international activities organizations including the G7/G8, the United Nations, the World Bank and the WTO. By doing so, he reinforces the role of the International Chamber of Commerce as the true representative of business worldwide.
His efforts were also geared towards promoting the role of ICC in the world economy and developing the private sectors contribution to global growth and social development. He leads numerous high level ICC delegations to various developed and developing countries, meeting with heads of state, leading public officials and prominent private sector personalities.
In all his trips, he offers ICCs expertise and support for their efforts in structural and economic reform programs, and promotes the free economy system. His efforts were successful in expanding the presence of ICC in several countries worldwide as well as in the Arab countries.
Adnan Kassar would have a particular focus to bring the ICC and the Arab world closer together, by seeing the establishment of new ICC National Committee in the Arab countries. He does this out of his belief that it can effectively help the economy of that country to further integrate in the international marketplace and in bringing the investment opportunities present in its sectors to the international business community.
As the first Arab President of ICC, and in view of his confidence in the exceptional Arab leadership and talent that can bring an added value to the ICC decision making process and at the same time, bring forward the interests of the Arab world and increased participation of leading and prominent Arab personalities in the Executive work of ICC.
Throughout these roles and position and throughout these decades, Adnan Kassar would learn of the importance of Chambers, and he would preach to others what chambers can offer as a leader and as the effective representative of the private sector.
Having learned, from Lebanon, that without peace and security, business cannot prosper, Adnan Kassar would adopt, as his theme as Chairman of the ICC, that peace brings stability and stability is crucial for business prosperity, economic growth and human well-being.
In this vein, he would work, in his various chamber responsibilities, with governments and intergovernmental institutions including the United Nations to influence the creation of a world in peace, necessary for the sound performance of the world economy and far global social prosperity.
Adnan Kassar ensures that in all the speeches he makes, and all the positions he holds, he reiterates his call for world peace and stability. This call is personal to Adnan Kassar, being a proud Lebanese National, who is ever more convinced that stability and peace will help Lebanon effectively reclaim its role as a regional and even international, business, tourist, and culture hub.
Adnan Kassar often recalls to those he meets that the star of times, the Phoenicians, who are in a certain way his ancestors, traversed the Mediterranean Sea. They did so not to establish colonies, but to establish trade counters. They were believers, at that time, thousands of years ago, in the ideals which animate Adnan Kassar today- to replace the domination by force and arms, by partnerships through exchanges of trade.
And so Adnan Kassar prays that the conflicts in the Arab world will subside, to be replaced by a peaceful, prosperous region and world. And so Adnan Kassar, out of his attachment to his country, Lebanon, and his commitment to the Chambers world, would establish, in Lebanons Capital Beirut, the Adnan Kassar Building for Arab Economy, where he hopes that his vision and beliefs will always thrive.