Salam Fayyad is a distinguished statesman with the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs, where he focuses on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and the peace process, regional security, including the rise of nonstate actors and related challenges, renewable energy, and economic development issues.
Fayyad is an economist, independent politician, and former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority (2007-13). Fayyad was born in Nablus, Palestine in 1952. He graduated with a BSc from the American University of Beirut in 1975 and went on to receive an MBA from St. Edward’s University in 1980 and a PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986.
Fayyad held several teaching and research positions, including as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, before joining the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 1987 to 2001, where his tenure included serving as IMF resident representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 1996 to 2001. He then served as regional manager of the Arab Bank in Palestine, and, in June 2002, he was named minister of finance of the Palestinian Authority. Until he resigned in December 2005, Fayyad served in that capacity on several cabinets, introducing in the process extensive financial reforms. In January 2006, he ran for elections on a slate of independents and was elected for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), where he served as chairman of the Finance Committee. In March 2007, Fayyad was appointed again as minister of finance in a national unity government, and in June 2007, he was appointed prime minister, a position he held until he stepped down in June 2013.
In a speech at Al-Quds University in June 2009, Fayyad rolled out the concept of an ambitious plan that subsequently was elaborated and, in August 2009, adopted as the platform of the thirteenth government of the Palestinian Authority, for building the institutions of the future Palestinian state. By April 2011, a year and a half into the implementation of the program, according to reports by the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the PA had attained the standing and attributes of a functioning state in the key governance sectors. Fayyad hailed this recognition as the birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine.
In 2010, Fayyad was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. He was also named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011. Part of Fayyad’s state-building effort was documented in the Hollywood documentary “State 194,” produced by Participant Media. In February 2013, the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin created the Salam Fayyad Excellence Fund for Economics. Fayyad had earlier been named a distinguished alumnus by the University of Texas (2008). In August 2013, Fayyad founded “Future for Palestine,” a nonprofit development foundation.