Apple’s $1 trillion valuation: The creation of a Syrian mind

Walid Jawad
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The record-breaking trillion-dollar value Apple Inc. reached on August 2 was a historical benchmark making it the first company to be valued at $1 trillion. A claim that will always be credited to this innovative technology company.

But this story is not a financial story claimed by the stock market, nor is it a technology story dwelling in the binary world on ones and zeros, it is a story of the son of a Syrian immigrant.


Steve Jobs was born to Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco. In the summer of 1954, Abdullatif took his wife to be, both 23 years at the time, to Syria to introduce her to his well-off family despite Joanne’s father opposition.

Arthur Schieble, her father, wouldn’t give his blessing to a union with her Muslim suitor on religious grounds – he was a strict Catholic who wouldn’t accept a man for his daughter of a different Christian denomination let alone a different religion.

Upon returning from Syria, Joanne found out that she was pregnant with Steve. In the face of her dying father’s opposition she and Abdulfattah elected not to defy his wishes waiting for him to die in peace and then marry.

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In the meantime, Joanne had to make an immediate decision about the pregnancy in order to avoid shaming the family name. She left her Wisconsin hometown to a California doctor who sheltered unwed mothers to help them safely deliver their children and arrange for adoption.

At that time abortion was illegal and the ones that were illegally performed were dangerous. Joanne didn’t have a choice but to acquiesce to the San Francisco option.

She tried delaying signing the adoption papers expecting her father to pass away freeing her to keep Steve. Unluckily for her, and perhaps luckily for us as consumers of Steve’s technological genius, his adoption was completed before Steve’s maternal grandfather passed away.

Steve’s fate was sealed. Our iPhones were guaranteed to become today’s reality.

What made Steve the genius he came to be was not only genetics, but also his upbringing and the environment which shaped him

Walid Jawad

The Garage

In the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, his adoptive parents were very kind and caring.

They did more for him than many parents would do for children of their own blood. It is amazing the length they went to accommodate his wishes and nurture his special talent and aptitude for electronics.

The biography walks the reader through the various phases of Jobs upbringing and schooling. The challenges his parents faced as they advanced the educational pursuit of their nonconforming adopted child.

In sixth grade, a year younger than his peers after skipping 5th grade, he gave his parents, Paul and Clara Jobs, an ultimatum to move him to a different school or he would drop out of school all together. His modest parents had to scrape all they had to move the family to another house a few miles down the road.

The move was necessary to cross the school districting line to the a better school system. The house they moved into had a garage, it was that garage where Steve and his friend Stephen Wozniak started their Apple technology adventure.

Apple: The Forbidden Fruit

Could have Steve imagined his company trailblazing in the world of finance as it does in tech? His death, October 5, 2011, cut his life too short at the age of 56. Far too young by any measure especially for someone who had much more to give humanity.

He was the type of person who wouldn’t be satisfied with accolades or by setting records. He was always working on the next big thing. In his short lifetime he revolutionized our lives and made the sci-fi stories of the past a reality we live every waking moment of our lives.

I for one, am attached to my iPhone in ways I don’t care to admit. I have retired my memory relegating it entirely to my iPhone Notes and Calendar. I communicate in words, though unspoken they echo in the ether of eternity.

I even talk to my Siri although these days we seem to have re-occurring communication breakdowns, now that Apple is not giving Siri the time of day. Although I give Siri a chance, I refuse to do so with Apple’s Maps as it causes me more aggravation than I’m willing to accept. Yes, Apple’s technology is not perfect yet the company is in a league on its own.

Apple’s $1 trillion capitalization makes it worth more than many countries. The tech company competes with the net worth of Greece and Israel and surpasses the worth of any Arab country according to Credit Suisse 2017 list. An unfair comparison pitting apples to oranges. Yet it provides an interesting numerical contrast.

‘Hot-blooded Arab’

Steve wasn’t 100 percent Syrian. His biological father, Dr. Abdulfattah Jandali, was from Homs, but his mother was Armenian. She was born in the US as a result of her parents escaping the Turks. Although Abdulfattah and Joanna were of different ethnicity both groups of people suffered at the hand of the oppressive Turks. That suffering didn’t stop there as it continued for Steve. Abandoned by his biological parents.

What made Steve the genius he came to be was not only genetics, but also his upbringing and the environment which shaped him. At any turn throughout his life, his flare for innovation and obsession for electronics could have been squashed.

Steve Jobs disposition was reinforced by his environment and advanced by his choices; a quest to innovate. The offspring of an immigrant father and a mother who’s the daughter of refugees.

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The product of a loving and determined couple of modest means. Although Abdulfattah came to the US to advance his own life, he ultimately contributed to the US and the quality of life of the rest of the world through his son.

This story of immigration is nestled inside a system that thrives on diversity. The land of opportunity extends her promise to those who come to her shores with the intent to capitalize on it.

Many people from every corner of this globe came to the US and made a life for themselves and their families.

The proof is evident when a person has the determination and is offered the opportunity to realize their dreams they will succeed regardless of their gender, race, color, national origin, and religion.
Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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