Steve Jobs: An ‘Arab American’?

Steve Jobs

A story has been making the rounds on the web lately about an unauthorized, still unpublished new biography of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs.

The story of Jobs as an adopted child is well published and known. It was also know that his bilogical father was Arab (who emigrated to the US in the 1950’s and worked as a political science professor). Now, the original nationality and name of Jobs’ bilogical father have also come out. See this excerpt on the AlwayOn Network.

The family’s saga is also a revealing case study in the classic debate of nature vs. nurture. Jobs’ personality—his intelligence, creativity, ambitiousness, charm, egomania, iconoclasm, and risk-taking—seems drawn almost entirely from those of his birth parents, whom he never knew growing up, rather than the adoptive parents who raised him. And it turns out that Jobs, arguably the most fascinating figure in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, can make yet another claim to exceptionalism: he is the most prominent living Arab-American. His biological father, Abdulfattah Jandali, immigrated from his native Syria at the age of 21 in 1952.

Understandably, Jobs considers his adoptive father and mother as his ‘true’ parents. Yet, he managed to track down his biological mother and made peace with her. He also has a biological sister (the writer Mona Simpson) who he is on contact with.

The story of his biological father, although his name and nationality are now know, remain somewhat of a mystery.

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40 Responses to “Steve Jobs: An ‘Arab American’?”

  1. Opening My Eyes » ستيف جوبز, عربى سورى ؟؟ Says:

    [...] ¬ÙŠØ§ المعلومات تسربت معلومات أن والده الحقيقى عربى سورى لا أدرى !!
    Entry Filed under: تقنية, اقتباسات

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  2. Seeker’s Digest » Blog Archive » Steve Jobs: An ‘Arab American’? - 360east | Ahmad Humeid’s blog Says:

    [...] Farazat 3:35 pm Tech| 360east | Ahmad Humeid’s blog and podcast » Blog Archive » Steve Jobs: An ‘Arab American’ [...]

  3. palforce Says:

    I heard his Father is Egyption.

  4. hatem abunimeh Says:

    Steve Jobs origin is a living proof that Arab Americans represent a motley collection of inimitable people [ I’m gloating]

  5. Leila Says:

    You may have heard the Egyptian rumor because Mona Simpson used a similar character in at least one of her novels – made him an Egyptian waiter.

    I met Mona Simpson a couple of times at parties in the 1980s. She was lovely to me just on the basis that I’m half-Arab, as she is. She asked me a great deal about my father, our relationship, my Arab family. My answers seemed to cause her some pain, because perhaps my family looks like what she would have wanted for herself. Meanwhile, I was trying not to be shocked at her stories of how her father left; when she became an adult and tracked down his brother and nephew in New York, they told her point blank they wanted nothing to do with her.

    I just don’t understand how an Arab family could reject its children that way.

    Simpson hasn’t said much about this publicly, but the picture I got from her conversation was that her father abandoned her at twelve, never had a real relationship iwth her again, and when she sought out his family, they were very cold and rejecting. They are Syrian, by the way.

    In light of all that, why should Steve Jobs celebrate his biological father or his connection to the man’s culture? The father and the mother gave Steve up for adoption when he was born, because they were in grad school and didn’t think they could support him. Maybe they weren’t married yet, either. Mona was born later, after their marriage.

    I’m an Arab-American and proud of it, but if Steve Jobs doesn’t want to claim his heritage, I think he’s entitled to his feelings about it. His father didn’t claim him so why should he claim his father’s culture?

    The father sounds like a troubled, strange guy. But “nature” must have something to do with the outcomes of his children – both of them are very successful in their fields. It’s not easy to win the kind of early accolades in writing that Mona Simpson did. If two children from the same parents, raised in completely different families, turn out so well, doesn’t that say something for nature?

    Again – culture must be passed through personal contact (unlike hair color or other body features, which you inherit through genes). If the only Arab ancestor they had refused to pass on his culture to them, then why should either Jobs or Simpson honor that culture? A father abandoning a child causes a terrible, life long wound. I think it’s admirable that they don’t trash him in public.

    No, the father of Steve Jobs is not somebody we Arabs can be proud of.

  6. abokareem Says:

    his father is from a city called homs 150mililesfrom the capital damascus;avery respectable familyand has alot of wealthy cousins

  7. Mr APPLE is Half-Arab! « Celoteh PakNik Says:

    [...] Something unknown before about Jobs is that his biological father was Abdul Fattah Jandali, a Syrian political science professor, who had immigrated to the US in 1952 at the age of 21. According to this Arab-American blogger (, his father was from Homs, Syria. [...]

  8. Darcy Reed Says:

    I’m not sure why you people are gloating about Steve Jobs being Arab. He never knew his Arab biological father. He was never exposed to Arab culture growing up. He certainly was never told that his real father was Arab. So why should the Arab world take credit for his accomplishments? Here’s another angle – If he knew he was half-Arab, and exposed to Arab culture and the Arab way of thinking, would he ever have become the brilliant, creative entrepreneur he is? Doubtful.

  9. Zeid Says:

    Darcy, Your hate-speak is clear …. Buzz off!

  10. Micheal Says:

    Darcy, as a professor of Middle Eastern History and Studies i can say that the accomplishments and ideological thoughts of the middle east have changed this world forever. Without calculus, this computer i type on would never have been created, the transistors in the t.v i watch wouldnt be there, the space ship that landed on the moon would have never happened. Without theology you or someone else may have a completely different notion about what GOD is….medicine, astronomy, math, art/architecture, and countless other things all made possible BECAUSE of the middle east. Now this has nothing to do with steve jobs because i do indeed believe that your upbringing rather then what ethnicity you are play a bigger role, but i dont see your point trying to somehow say arab culture is un-imaginative, not creative, etc.

  11. Jarod Says:

    Steve Jobs is a God no matter where he comes from or who his parents are. He is a blessing to mankind in its entirety.

  12. Knute Says:

    Certainly the world owes an unpaid debt and respect to the Middle East for its past innovations. But it’s the uniquely fertile culture of Silicon Valley that fueled Steve Jobs imagination, and his teaming with Steve Wozniak that jumpstarted his early career. The only Middle Eastern factor in this was that the two were introduced to one another by a Baha’i named Bill Hernandez.

    Had Jobs been born to a Syrian mother in Homs, he may have led a much more traditional life – hard to say. What his story does tell us is that diversity and cross-polination can yield amazing things. I seem to recall that when the Islamic empire was at the height of its glory and innovation, it too was the benefactor of the confluence of thought from many cultures.

  13. jigar upadhyay Says:

    i want your full case study of your hole life of Mr.steve jobs. so you plese send me the case study of this great person …....plzplz plz plz plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  14. yallanow Says:

    Hey, we invented Algebra—Steve Jobs is not that far off.

  15. William Says:

    As a professor of Mathematics I can tell you that Calculus was not an arab or middle eastern development. It’s earliest theories were developed by Descartes and some of his contemporaries.
    It reached it’s ultimate point in the 1920’s with the work of Hilbert and Courant. Calculus was almost entirely the work of Europeans.
    Anyway. I do not care what the nationality is of someone who developed something significant and beneficial to humanity. That would be racism and tribalism. Who cares what nationality Jobs’ father was, it is irrelevant.

  16. Spencer Says:

    William, you’re right about that, but Algebra actually was a Middle Eastern/Arabian invention. The first Algebra textbook was named Al-Jabr, and the Middle Easterners gave it to the Europeans when they traded with each other.

  17. Suresh Says:

    >>”Without calculus, this computer i type on would never have been created” ... “medicine, astronomy, math countless other things all made possible BECAUSE of the middle east.”

    What utter nonsense. As a professor of Middle Eastern History you really should know better!.

    India: Mathematics, Calculus, Astronomy was passed down through the centuries from India. Thousands of years ago Arabs the Aryan Hindus traded in goods—from there knowledge in mathematics and other sciences were passed on…

    – Indian Numerals were used in Arabia after 700AD and spread thorough Europe, hence the term “Arab numerals”.
    – The Indians of the fifth century A.D. calculated the age of the earth as 4.3 billion years; scientists in 19th century England were convinced it was 100 million years.
    – The concept of “Zero” was invested by Aryabhatta in 100bc.
    – Aryabhatta was the first to explain spherical shape, size, diameter, rotation and correct speed of Earthin 499AD.
    – Trigonometry was known to Indian mathematics and astronomers before European / Arab counterparts. It was used in Gupta period (3rd century AD onwards) – Surya Siddhanta (4th Century AD) gives a table of Sines.
    – In Siddhanta Siromani (Bhuvanakosam 6- Bhaskaracharya II) described about Gravity 400 years before Isaac Newton. He also had some notions on differential and the Theory Continued Fraction.
    – Madhavacharya discovered Taylor series of Sine and Cosine function about 250 years before Taylor.
    – Madhavacharya discovered Leibnitz power series Vateswaracharya discovered Newton Gauss Backward Interpolation formula about 1000 years before Newton.
    – A textbook (Surya Siddhanta) on astronomy of ancient India, last compiled in 1000 BC, believed to be handed down from 3000 BC by aid of complex mnemonic recital methods still known today.
    – Sulvasutras ofBaudhayana, 600 B.C., said the following 200 years before Pythagoras—“The diagonal of an oblong produces by itself both the areas which the two sides of the oblong produce separately.”
    – Aryabhata, 500 AD, the father of Indian mathematics and astronomy,
    computed “pi”to 3.1416, a value not equalled in Europe until Purbach (1423-61).


  18. joe Says:

    You go on thin grounds demonstrating some sort of jingoistic pride b/c in a place that was never known as India (till the Brits united them under one language, etc.) there were developments of certain arts & sciences. Ultimately;y, really, who cares? Obviously you do but look at all the poverty and caste-based culture you also have. You invented it, too, but I don’t see you claiming it as vociferously as you claim what you perceive a s better qualities. And let’s not forget the Maya, the Inkas and the Aztecs among other cultures of the so-called American continent; they independently discovered many sophisticated ideas in the arts & sciences. What is more tragic is that the freaking Spaniards burned thousands of documents from these cultures because they were considered products of “savages and idolaters”.

  19. Syrian Says:

    To Darcy Reed,
    People all are proud about his heritage. Even if he’d been exposed to his Arab culture very little would change. The way your raised and educated does very much affect your future success, but genius’ are just the way they are based on how thier mind works, its almost something physical in the brain. you can find many case studies similar on Einstien, he had something special with his brain. so no maybe Steve jobs wouldn’t have created apple, but he would do incredibly with whatever oppritunity he was given. He was very lucky to get his education and further chances that lead to the creation of apple. I am also familiar with many people of the Jandali name, it is huge in Syria and they are very successful; Doctors, Lawyers, Musicians, you name it. All Arabs, you have a right to be proud!

  20. . Says:

    al khwarizmi was persian

  21. . Says:

  22. Tanks Says:

    To Syrian

    Do you know Steve Jobs’ adoptive parents were successfull? His adoptive father was a machinist and his adoptive mother a accountant. They raised steve well obviously, and that is why steve is successful now today, and not because of “nature” or his biological father.

    Also studies done on Einstein brain did not show anything special about it.

  23. jtmtz Says:

    Joe: The term India can also imply geography (not limited to politics), there was one language known as sanskrit that unified most of India in the same way the Latin unified what little was developed of Europe at that time. The caste system is not completely dissimilar to aristoractic systems that exist in many parts of the world. Even in your so-called democratic european nations there are still monarchies and whether or not you claim them to be active they are still part of european legacy. There is also a huge colonial impact in Latin America where the descendants of the conquistadors established themselves as elites and oppress the native populations, they still do to this day. As for poverty, for thousands of years the geogrpahical areas known as China and India had the largest economies in the world until the 19th century when the British occupied India and castrated China with the opium wars. Up until Bretton-woods the USA itself was not a wealthy country, there was a limited social safety net, what happened was then the abuse the reserve currency status of power and excessive spending which was distributed in different ways and led to the 87 crash, tech bubble and housing bubble. The fragile bubble economy you live in will soon implode, California is just the beginning eventually Obama’s state bailout money will run out and services will be cut (this includes everything healthcare, police forces to compulsory education enforcement). The fantasy you live in will soon face real poverty (without a social safety net, think why do illegal mexicans come to the USA again?, there is no welfare in mexico).

  24. Kneif Says:

    I agree with William. That is irrelevant.
    I’m Syrian-Canadian so what? Should I would be proud? If our search or comments were just for information or curiosity, there is no problem but when we start to be proud of, or we start keeping searching and commenting on such subject, in my opinion also, that is waste of time. I started to see some comments sometime that he is Jewish, and other comment that he is egyptian, WHO CARES. He is a very good man and all people loves him that is it.
    NB: Do we chose normally where to be born or what our father’s religion? Let us stop this and hope for him the longest life, we all have the same red blood, let us keep looking on similarities and not on the differences.

  25. Sam Says:

    I am Syrian-Dutch from the city Homs where the father of Steve Jobs from ..
    Al Jandly family is respected family in our city
    and by the way people from Homs are known to be samrt , and clever .
    it doesn’t matter where is he from anyway .
    and we have a lot of people to be proud of ? see on the about syrian celebrities ..

    anyway wer syrians are proud of Syria itself . and we from Homs are more proud to be Homsi’s !

  26. Rb Says:

    Sam… Are you proud of the syrians from Hama?

  27. Me Says:

    LOL “Zeid” truth hurts, doesn’t it? Syria isn’t exactly known for its contributions to the world.

  28. Portlander Says:

    To “Me”:
    You are a racist jackass. Do you know anything about Syria, or anywhere else in the world? Have you been to Syria? Do you know any Syrians? Doubt it.

  29. Tru Brit Says:

    “Me Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 9:16 pm
    Syria isn’t exactly known for its contributions to the world.”

    Well the Middle-east’s greatest contribution to the world is that its the Cradle of Human Civilisation – its where humans switched from being nomadic hunter-gatherers to modern, city-dwellers.

    Its where peoples’ primary motive stopped being basic survival (just finding food and shelter) to human advancement.

    Clearly this isn’t Syria’s achievement – but its undeniable that it was in this region of the world where it all started.

    I know there’ll be plenty of people saying it would have happened anyway – but that’s an argument that can be thrown at any human achievement.

    My opinion is not supposed to be some talking-up of a particular region of the world, I just get a little fed-up when people like the writer above “Me, June 7th 2010” advocate a very narrow, frankly ignorant view of the world – he or she needs to do some reading.

    Its also worth baring in mind that the future is increasingly pointing East, not West.

  30. Viviane Says:

    Well his adoptive mother was Armenian, as many Arabs claim Armenian heritage.

    His biological parents gave him up for adpotion because his biological mother’s father was quite conservative and was against Steve’s parents getting married. You can read more here
    It seems his bilogical dad would have liked to be more involved in the lives of his kids, but the mother disappeared with Mona after the divorce.

  31. Seyf S (Ս.Ս.) Says:

    His biological father was Syrian (Arab)

    Did you know that his adoptive mother was ARMENAIN (Clara Hagopian)

    More info on Steve Jobs here:

  32. dd Says:

    Isn’t it that Greeks invented everything? Western world is only due to Greece.

    dd (UK)

  33. mohamed Says:

    Yes steve abdulfatah jandali is arab now eat the meal… ;-)

  34. Adam Says:

    Arabs did not invent algebra…it was the Persians…Omar Khayyam was a Persian mathematician…

    Arabs are quick to take credit because his name does sound Arab but the truth is he was Persian…

  35. michael Says:

    touchy people, you mid-easterners.

  36. Meet Steve Jobs' Biological father Abdulfattah Jandali (Bio, wiki) Says:

    [...] flew to Syria looking for a better life his intention was to join the diplomatic corps, but that didn’t [...]

  37. Californie : Steve Jobs a quitté le monde ! « libertasoccidentalis09 Says:

    [...] [...]

  38. Libye : Des millions de libyens morts et parfois sans « jobs arabes … | «akan cHb Says:

    [...] Jandali, alias Steve Jobs est un arabe d’origine syrienne et de nationalité américaine. Lire: Steve Jobs: An ‘Arab American’? Novembre 2005 Share this:PrintE-mailDiggStumbleUponTwitterFacebookReddit"Aimer" ceci [...]

  39. jack Says:

    God rests his soul. If all of you people east and west check your DNA, you’ll find yourself a likely combination of East/ West/North/South.

    It is what you do that makes you what you are.
    Genius is a genetic gift but it can be destructive as we are witnessing in ever corner of the Earth and it can be constructive like Steve Jobs.

    He made his choice in life and the credit is all his. What a wonderful man!

    Allah yerhamhou

  40. yasmeen Says:

    Whoever has to put the fact that he was Arab, and has negation about that, simply depicts the persons jealousy and illiteracy. Why can’t this world just accept, giving praise with a smile. Time to grow up

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