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Salem Hanna Khamis was born in Reineh village near Nazareth in 1919 when Palestine had just become a British mandate. While he was studying for a PhD in Statistics in England , he was declared a refugee when Israel was formed in 1948. He tried to get home to his family but Israel denied him his right to return.He left his home in Reineh village with a British Mandate Palestinian Passport, but became stateless because of the formation of the Israeli state. His life mirrored the experience of many Palestinians of the diaspora – a love of family, a thirst for academic excellence, a drive to encourage others in their pursuits, and a mission to achieve justice for the dispossessed and downtrodden. Salem Khamis died in June 2005 leaving his wife Mary, children Thea, Hanna, Chris and Tareq, and four grandchildren. Family and friends have established a charitable trust in his name, the Dr Salem Hanna Khamis Palestinian Educational Fund which resources an annual bursary for a student at Bierzet University in the occupied West Bank town of Ramallah.

Salem Khamis worked on the world stage, ending his career as Chief of the Statistical Development Service of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.He made a lasting contribution to economic analysis by developing, along with his colleague R C Geary, the Geary-Khamis method for measuring international purchasing power parities (PPPs) which has been used extensively by international agencies such as the World Bank and OECD to make international comparisons of prices, real incomes, output and productivity. His work took him and his family to Lebanon, Egypt, Uganda and Iraq as well as New York and Rome, where FAO has its headquarters. By the time he retired in 1986 he could count the following amongst his many achievements

  • Establishing the Maths Department of the American University in Beirut , Lebanon , as Professor and Chairman. 1955 – 1958.
  • Regional Statistician for the Near East, FAO Cairo & Rome 1958-1963.
  • Responsibility for the FAO’s Freedom from Hunger Campaign 1961.
  • Setting up the Institute of Statistics & Applied Economics, Makerere University, Kampala , Uganda 1970-1972.
  • Setting up the Arab Institute for Training and Research in Statistics, Baghdad , Iraq . 1976-1978.
  • Responsibility for preparing the World Census of Agriculture. 1980.
  • The evaluation and development of the statistical activities of the PLO, for the Arab Fund for Social & Economic Development. 1982.
  • Active member of the International Statistical Institute for 50 years and its Vice-President from 1979-81.
  • Statistical Consultant for the UN’s Economic Commission for Western Asia, reviewing the retail price statistics and the index of retail prices in Sana’a, Yemen 1984.
  • Statistical Adviser for the Arab Fund’s project to finance an agricultural census in the Sudan 1986/87.
  • Review of export statistics of agricultural products from the occupied West Bank to Jordan , for the Jordan Government 1986.

Wherever he went and whatever he did, Salem’s guiding principles were local empowerment and sustainability. He concentrated on developing local talent and leaving behind structures that would continue to deliver their core purpose over the ensuing years.Despite his exile, Salem did all he could to encourage Palestinians to peacefully resist occupation, oppression and denial of human and national rights. This started under British mandate rule in Palestine itself and in 1947 when, as Secretary of the Arab Students League in Great Britain (which he set up in 1946), he led a demonstration against the planned partition of Palestine . He supported the development of the annual Land Day demonstrations, now held annually by Palestinians who are Israeli citizens to mark the continuing loss of their land to Israel . As a lifelong member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Medical Aid for Palestinians, Salem Khamis was a regular supporter of the demonstrations and initiatives promoted by these organisations. Underlying all of Salem Khamis’ actions was his passionate belief in equality, particularly in terms of race and religious faith. As a Christian Palestinian whose childhood friends included Palestinian Muslims and Jews, he consistently spoke out against racism and anti-semitism. He was also passionate about the need for education and personal development, advising and encouraging a wide range of family and friends to achieve educational excellence. Establishing the Dr Salem Hanna Khamis Palestinian Educational Fund is an appropriate way to celebrate the breadth of his achievements and to continue to promote his fundamental human values in a practical way. We are pleased to announce that the Fund’s first bursary for a student studying for a Master in Applied Statistics was awarded in 2010. Contributions to the Dr Salem Hanna Khamis Palestinian Educational Trust are most welcome. For information about how to donate please contact