Saleh Abdul Amir Kubba
Saleh Abdul Amir Kubba
Saleh Abdul Amir Kubba
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|Born||November 5, 1911|
|Died||March 10, 2005(aged 93)|
|Alma mater||Central Secondary School|
Saleh Abdul Amir Kubba (Arabic: صالح عبدالأمير كبة) was born in Baghdad on November 5th, 1911, to a well-established, purebred Baghdadi family (The House of Kubba), domiciled in Baghdad since the fourth Hijri century (tenth century Gregorian). The family originates from the Rabi'a tribe. The Sheikhs of Rabia in Iraq confirm the Kubba family lineage's veracity and feel proud of the affiliation. Mr. Kubba was an outstanding economist and a capable negotiator well known in Arab and international forums. He served Iraq with relentless sincerity and exceptional competency. He stayed away from politics and coups, endeavoring to be a faithful adviser to decision-makers from his distinguished positions through various stages that passed by Iraq.
Mr. Kubba graduated in 1929 from the Central Secondary School, which used to be the only high school in Baghdad back then. He joined the Teachers' Training College, graduated in 1931 and served as a mathematics teacher at secondary schools in Baghdad, Hillah and Najaf. Mr. Kubba was among the youngest teachers, even younger than some of his students.
He attained a government scholarship in 1933 to study in the United States, departing first to Beirut, where he took a one-year English language course. He enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in economics. In California, he had a kidney disease that resulted in the removal of one of his kidneys. For the rest of his life, he was on one kidney.
Mr. Kubba returned to Iraq in 1940, embarking on a distinguished career replete with a dedication to his work and to serving the public domain. He was first appointed at the Ministry of Economy, where he established the Statistics Section. Later he was transferred to the Ministry of Finance as Assistant Director at the Directorate of International Transfers, soon taking over from the British Director to become the first Iraqi Director. This key Directorate was subjoined to the Central Bank of Iraq when it was established in 1947. Saleh Kubba was among the earliest employees at this leading institution.
During that period, Iraq was a member of the Sterling Bloc, which included countries under British influence. Money transfers from Iraq to other currencies were restricted because the Iraqi dinar was linked to the Pound sterling Pound, thus complicating transfer operations and requiring specialized expertise and know-how to overcome the intricacies. Mr. Kubba possessed the competency to manage these operations efficiently and proficiently.
During the same period, he became a permanent member of all delegations representing Iraq to meetings and negotiations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held in Washington, D.C., with the Sterling Pound Bloc held in London, and with the League of Arab Countries in Cairo. The Iraqi government decided in 1958 to embark on negotiations for the withdrawal from the Sterling Bloc. Mr. Kubba had a unique role in the challenging and complicated negotiations that resulted in Iraq's successful withdrawal from the Sterling Bloc. The Iraqi Dinar attained a strong status relative to other currencies.
In 1959, Mr. Kubba was commissioned with rejuvenating the languishing government-owned Marine Transport Company. He succeeded in re-activating it while he was Director. Commercial ships were purchased from Japan at the best available prices and were delivered to Basra within exceptionally short periods. Before that, he had been appointed member of the Board of Directors of the National Electricity Authority, in charge of power generation and transmission throughout Iraq.
At that time, the Iraqi government desired to improve and develop economic and trade relations with some countries around the world. Mr. Kubba was chosen to lead several delegations that included representatives from the public and private sectors. These delegations visited several countries, including India, Singapore, Indonesia, and a few African countries. He was also appointed member of the Board of Directors of the Port Authority around the same period.
Saleh Kubba was appointed Deputy Minister of Petroleum in 1960. He played a crucial role in launching the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC). With his contacts during his experience throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Mr. Kubba was able to assist and formalize OPEC. Being an Iraqi initiative, the Organization was then inaugurated in Baghdad. At first, OPEC comprised of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and Venezuela only. Mr. Kubba became Iraq’s first delegate to OPEC and represented Iraq numerous times between 1960-1966. After 1960, he attended OPEC meetings in Switzerland (OPEC HQ between 1961-1965) and Vienna (OPEC HQ 1965-present) while representing Iraq. In 1966, Mr. Kubba was OPEC conference president, being the first official conference president from Iraq.
In 1962, Mr. Kubba was appointed General Director of the privately-owned United Iraqi Bank. He worked hard to make it a pioneer banking institution and an essential contributor to Iraq's economy. He deservedly acquired the trust of business people.
Mr. Kubba was appointed Minister of Finance in February 1963 without being consulted, although he was unwilling to take up the position. At the first opportunity in the first ministerial reshuffle, Mr. Kubba insisted on stepping down despite being urged by some government leaders to remain a minister. He insisted on resigning and returned to work as General Director of the United Iraqi Bank.
Mr. Kubba returned to government service in 1964 as Chairman of the Board at the National Oil Company, the first Iraqi company in this field. Despite the salary sacrifice caused by leaving the private sector, he exerted diligent efforts in this position, as was his custom.
Between 1965-1969, Mr. Kubba was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq. He represented Iraq in meetings with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He was chosen as a member of the fundraising committee for the University of Kufa project. He raised a significant amount of money donated by businessmen and merchants because of their trust in Saleh Kubba.
His appointment, without his knowledge, was announced as Minister of Finance in the Cabinet formed on July 17th, 1968. He tried hard to not participate in the ministry, but the pressure exerted on him from several quarters forced him to accept the ministerial position and the responsibilities involved in those sensitive circumstances. On July 30th, 1968, he was summoned by the President of the Republic, who expressed his wish to re-appoint him as Minister of Finance in the new Cabinet formed that day. Again, Mr. Kubba insisted on stepping down from the ministry despite renewed intense pressure but was granted his wish.
He was re-appointed Governor of the Central Bank. During IMF meetings, he was offered the position of Executive Director for Middle East Affairs at the International Monetary Fund. But he did not accept the offer because he believed he could best serve Iraq in his capacity as Governor of the Central Bank.
Between 1961 and 1968, Mr. Kubba was offered several ministerial posts; he was offered the position of deputy prime minister. But he always refused to take up any of these offers because he did not wish to entangle himself in politics. Mr. Kubba had the absolute conviction that he could best serve Iraq within the domain of his expertise in financial and economic affairs.
Mr. Kubba was acquitted from his position in 1969 and was compelled to emigrate from Iraq and settle abroad. He took advisory positions with several private companies. Saleh Kubba was persecuted by the former regime from mid-1969 and sentenced to death in absentia. He had to bear forced exile. Since then, he always followed up on the news from his beloved homeland after generously giving Iraq a lifetime of loyalty and years of hard work to build a strong future.
It was God’s will that Saleh Abdul Amir Kubba passed away two years after witnessing the former Iraqi regime's end. His family and friends were content to let him rest in peace in Iraq, the land of his ancestors. He died on March 10th, 2005, and was interred in the family cemetery in Najaf. The family held traditional condolence receptions in Baghdad, his beloved city, and in each of the countries where he lived during his long exile. Large numbers of people attended these gatherings. Many letters and statements were written in memoriam. Everywhere people who knew admired and loved him paid tribute to this kind, virtuous man who was a paragon of decency, fairness, magnanimity, self-denial, and competence. Throughout his life, he was the first to support needy people in dire circumstances.
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