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Thu 6 Oct 2011 05:36 PM

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Arabs embrace Steve Jobs and his Middle East connection

Apple co-founder's father was born in Syria, gave baby up for adoption in California

Arabs embrace Steve Jobs and his Middle East connection
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO died of cancer at the age of 56 on Wednesday

While the world mourned the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs in California, many Syrians were quick to claim the computer genius as one of their own on Thursday through a little-known connection to his biological father.

Jobs, who died of cancer at the age of 56 on Wednesday, was given up for adoption soon after his birth in San Francisco to an American mother, Joanne Carole Schieble, and a Syrian-born father, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali.

Jandali, 80, a former academic, has told how Schieble's "tyrant" father refused to allow his daughter to marry a Syrian and so the baby was adopted by a married couple from California, Paul and Clara Jobs.

Only in recent years did Jandali, born in the Syrian city of Homs and latterly an executive of the Boomtown Casino in Reno, Nevada, realise that the Apple chief was his son.

"Without telling me, Joanne upped and left to move to San Francisco to have the baby without anyone knowing, including me," Jandali told the New York Post in an interview in August. "She did not want to bring shame onto the family and thought this was best for everyone."

With Jandali out of the picture at the outset, many Syrians were unaware of the connection between Apple and their homeland until recently. But they were quick to embrace Jobs when news broke of his death.

Users of the social networking site Twitter were also quick to draw parallels with Syria's uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which has cost more than 2,900 lives, by a UN count.

"The wrong Syrian died today," said one Twitter user, echoing sentiments of the Syrian leader's bitter opponents.

"A sick world we live in when Steve Jobs has to die of cancer and Bashar al-Assad remains Syria's cancer," another opposition supporter said on the website.

Others hailed Jobs, whose Syrian links have been little mentioned until now, as "a great Arab American" and "the most famous Arab in the world".

In Syria, some people, who all declined to give their full names, said Jobs would have been unlikely to have had such a stellar career if he had lived in the land of his father's birth, where the Assad family has ruled for 41 years.

"I felt sad, not because he is of Syrian origin but because we will miss the inventor and his inventions," said Rana, a 21-year-old student. "But I think that if he had stayed in Syria, he would not have invented anything."

"This is sad and we will miss a lot of his achievements, but the company will continue," said Ali, a website designer. "If he had lived and died in Syria, he would not have accomplished anything."

A 28-year-old Damascus resident, who gave his name as Ahmed, said he was happy to learn that Jobs had Syrian antecedents, although he was unable to afford any of Apple's products.

"I think that if he had lived in Syria he would not have been able to achieve any of this, or else he would have chosen to leave Syria," Ahmed said.

Other Syrians regretted that Jobs had no roots of his own in his father's homeland.

"The sad thing is that he had lived and died abroad, and humanity lost him," said Maneh, a 27-year-old bank employee, who posted an image of the Apple founder on his Facebook page.

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Telcoguy 8 years ago

Hummm... His father had no qualms abandoning Jobs' mother and their daughter (Mona) a few years later leaving them to subsist on welfare. There are good reasons i think that Steve Jobs refused to meet him. It may be good to give the full story, It is well documented, that in this case is that there is no connection at all between the late Steve Jobs and the MiddleEast.

We Are The People 8 years ago

Good, smart and productive man. Lived his life believing in his cause until the last day. Improved and advanced the thinking and behavior of millions of people worldwide, he had so much to give. You will be missed Steve. Only the good die young.

ZORO for justice 8 years ago

First and Foremost, my Deepest Sympathies to the Family of the Late Steve Jobs.
I agree totally with Ms Rana a Syrian, who has mentioned "if he lived in Syria he would not have achieved anything".....very true and very well said Ms Rana, in my opinion if he has lived in Syria and with his remarkable prowess he might have ended up as "Prince of Persia", like according to Late Nostradamus, he would have by now taken over the entire world,...thank God, he was raised and educated with a different thinking that he was a creation by himself.

Fares 8 years ago

@ Telcoguy, sounds like sour grapes again. There are marital problems all over the world and like several families, Steve Jobs is a victim of marital discord but that does not negate the fact that he was an Arab, a Syrian who kept in touch with his family in Syria and always urged them to join him in the US.

Mohsin Khan 8 years ago

Its ok, its hard for some to accept that an Arab was the smartest and most innovative man in the world,, but its ok. Not accepting it does not change the facts. Just as Arabs brought into reality the tallest structure ever built by man, an Arab was behind the digital media revolution of last 10 years.

Mark 8 years ago

Where did you hear he kept in touch with his "family" in Syria? This bio-dad left Syria well before Steve was born and the papers say he never contacted him but he kept in touch with his sister and mother. The point is not whether Steve Jobs was an Arab but whether he saw himself as Arab or did he shun that aspect of his origins for various reasons.

Seems strange that he was in contact with his bio-mother who his bio-dad claimed gave him up without his knowledge and yet did not keep in contact with Jandalli.

Zakaria Khatib 8 years ago

@ Mark, there are myriad versions and you can conveniently stick to whichever one will make you at ease. We will stick with the fact that Steve Jobs kept in touch with his family (nobody mentioned parents!) in Syria and always urged them to join him in the US. The Syrian Steve Jobs did not have to shun his glorious Syrian origins, it was known to all and sundry that he was a Syrian.

Mark 8 years ago

@Zakaria, I asked where so I can actually read it myself. Whether he considered himself one thing or another is really not for you, me or anyone but Steve to know and it doesn't really matter as much to me. Btw why is it that his name is Steve and you say he is "Arab" yet my name is Mark and you assume I am not? Assumptions, not always a good idea to jump to them!

Big Boy 8 years ago

Steve Jobs an ARAB! Pull the other one !... was he an Arabic speaker? Did he ever visit Syria ? Did he keep in contact with his Dad? Was he even Muslim ? Did he make any effort to project himself as an ARAB ?No to all guys ....