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Early life

Born in Jerusalem, Nusseibeh was educated at St. George’s School in the city, subsequently competing his secondary education at the Rugby School in Warwickshire, UK. He then attended Queen’s CollegeUniversity of Cambridge, graduating with an MA (honours) degree in Economics in 1967.

Many members of the Nusseibeh family were displaced during the conflict that led to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. His late mother, Nuzha Al Ghoussein, left with her family from Ramleh in 1948 and her brother, Talat Al Ghoussein, subsequently became Kuwait’s Ambassador to Washington, DC (1970).


Nusseibeh’s late father, Anwar Nusseibeh (d. 1986) who had lost a leg during the 1948 war, became active in Jordanian politics, and held a number of cabinet posts in the Jordanian government, including Defence, Interior and Education (1950s). He served in the Jordanian Parliament as well as the Senate. He was also Governor of Jerusalem (1961), and subsequently Ambassador to the Court of St. James (1965).

You can read more about the Nusseibeh family and its notable members on the official website. 


As a young student in England, Nusseibeh was involved in Palestinian politics. During his studies, Nusseibeh formed an Arab Society at the University of Cambridge which held debates and invited speakers on topical issues in contemporary Arab politics.


Nusseibeh graduated from the University of Cambridge at the time of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and a return to Jerusalem was not a feasible option. Instead, on the advice of his father, he travelled to Abu Dhabi, then in the early stages of modern development, with the intention of working for a family-owned construction business in the emirate.


Once settled in Abu Dhabi (1967), he began to work as a freelance journalist for a number of British and Arab publications, including The EconomistThe Financial Times and the BBC Arabic Service.


He interviewed Sheikh Zayed in April 1968 for a British documentary, translating from Arabic to English. He was subsequently asked to join the Abu Dhabi government, working briefly with the newly-established Civil Service Authority (1968-1969), then moving to Abu Dhabi’s Department of Information as Director of Research and Documentation (1969-1971), helping in establishing Abu Dhabi’s first newspapers in Arabic and English (Al-Ittihad 1969, Abu Dhabi News 1969). He then became Director of Information in the newly formed UAE Federal Ministry of Information (1972-1975).


While at the Ministry of Information, he also worked as an English language broadcaster and programme producer and helped in the planning and development of an information and media strategy for the government. He was also involved in the preparing, editing and translating of all its books and publications.


In 1975, Nusseibeh became the Director of the Press Office in the Diwan (Court) of Sheikh Zayed, subsequently becoming an Advisor while continuing his role as the President’s personal interpreter. As part of this work, he was involved in the preparation of official state visits and the formulation of government briefs for the President and his senior aides. He also accompanied the President on most of his official visits abroad and took part in the talks held on several government levels.

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