Issam Michael Fares
Chairman, WEDGE GROUP
Issam Michael Fares is an industrialist and philanthropist. He also served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon from 2000 to 2005, and was elected as a Member of the Lebanese Parliament from 1996 to 2005.
Born in 1937, in Lebanon, Mr. Fares graduated from Tripoli College in 1954 and was hired as a bookkeeper at Abela Catering. Soon after, Mr. Fares was expanding and managing Abela Catering operations in the Arab Gulf region and in 1966, settled in Saudi Arabia.
In 1972, Mr. Fares formed a joint venture with Ballast Nedam, a leading Dutch construction firm, and began to develop much needed infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. By 1979 Mr. Fares had acquired Ballast Nedam and under his ownership the company completed many notable projects, including the world's longest international bridge at the time; connecting Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Ballast Nedam was sold by Mr. Fares to British Aerospace in 1989.
As Mr. Fares witnessed the Lebanese Civil War ignite in 1975, he strategically began to invest his profits through the established, Texas-based, WEDGE Group. In 1979 he bought out the other three partners and used WEDGE Group as his investment vehicle.
By the mid-1980s Mr. Fares, through WEDGE Group and its affiliates, employed over 70,000 people across Europe, North America, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
In addition to the Fares Institute for Public Policy at the American University of Beirut, Mr. Fares is the founder of The Fares Award for Excellence at the Middle East Institute in Washington and the Fares Institute of Technology at Balamand University, as well as the Fares Center at Tufts University.
In recognition of his achievements and his philanthropy, Mr. Issam Fares has been recognized locally and internationally. He has received medals awarded by countries across multiple continents, decorations from popes and heads of state.
Select Medals and Awards: Grand Officer of the National Order (Lebanon); Order of St. Peter and St. Paul (Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate); Grand Cordon of Archon Depoutatos (Patriarchate of Constantinople); Legion d'Honneur, Grand Officier (France); Golden Medal of Acropole (UNESCO).