Yasser Arafat Biography

Yasser Arafat Biography

Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al Qudwa al Husseini, generally known as Yasser Arafat was a Palestine freedom fighter and leader, also a Nobel Peace Prize holder.  He held the office of the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), President of the Palestine National Authority (PNA) and the leader of the Fatah Political Party.

Born: August 24, 1929, Cairo, Egypt
Died: November 11, 2004, Clamart, France
Spouse: Suha Arafat (m. 1990–2004)
Education: Cairo University (1944–1950)
Awards: Nobel Peace Prize, Time's Person of the Year, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding
Parents: Abdel Raouf al-Qudwa al-Husseini, Zahwa Abul Saud

Early Life

Yasser Arafat was born in Cairo Egypt on 24th August 1929, to Abdel Raouf, and Zahwa Abul Saud.  His mother died when he was four years old and he was sent to stay with his maternal uncle.

Yasser Arafat became involved with the politics of Palestine, as a teenager, fighting against the formation of a Jewish state, Israel in 1940.  In 1944 Arafat joined the University of King Faud and graduated in 1950.  He left the University to fight the Jews in the Gaza strip, but the defeat of the Arabs and formation of the State of Israel, left a deep mark on Arafat.  In 1952-1946 Arafat returned to University, now named the Cairo University to acquire a degree in Civil Engineering.  He worked for a while in Egypt and later moved to Kuwait.


Yasser Arafat ran a successful engineering business in Kuwait and funneled all his profits into political activities. Arafat created “Al Fatah (The Struggle) in 1956 and in 1959 began publishing a magazine advocating use of force against Israel.  In 1964 Arafat, left his business to become a full time revolutionary, leading the Fatah group against Israel.  Meanwhile forces sympathetic to the Palestinian cause in Egypt, Syria and Jordan formed the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964.

Yasser Arafat took over the PLO in 1969 becoming its Chairman, turning it into an independent nationalist organization fighting for Palestine.  Initially the PLO was based in Jordan, but then moved to Lebanon and later shifted its headquarters to Tunis.  Arafat led a life of constant travel being expelled from friendly countries for the Fatah’s activities.  The Intifada movement in 1987 strengthened Arafat’s position as the dismal condition of Palestinians under Israel was highlighted.  In 1988 the PLO in a marked shift of their tactics accepted the UN Security Council Resolution 242, of Israel’s right to exist and peace and security and to forego terrorism in all forms.  In return the then Israeli Head of state, Yitzhak Rabin recognized the PLO. Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and shared it with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.

In the late nineties, Arafat became the President and Prime Minister of the Palestine national Authority (PNA), the Commander of the PLA and the Speaker of the PLC.  As governments changed in Israel, newer peace agreements came into force. This resulted in an escalation of violence and under two American Presidents namely Bill Clinton and George Bush, the peace process limped along with no real change in the situation. Slowly Yasser Arafat’s hold began to diminish causing more disillusionment in the Palestinians. Arafat survived several assassination attempts on his life and also a plane crash.

Arafat remained the face of Palestine’s struggle for Statehood and nationalism for close to fifty years.  The last years of his life were marred by illness and confinement in Ramallah.  He died in November 2004 at the age of 75.


  • He was the undisputed leader of the Palestine struggle for nationalism
  • He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.


“Arafat had said that the womb of the Palestinian woman was a "biological weapon," which he could use to create Palestine state by crowding people into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.” 
― Yasser Arafat

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