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From One Room to an Entire Region: The Saba & Co. Story

Fuad Saba’s vision and hard work spurred Saba & Co.’s growth from a small, one-room operation in 1926 into the Middle East’s largest accounting firm and an important member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

Deloitte predecessor firm Saba & Co. began in 1926 as a one-room office in Jerusalem. The son of an Anglican pastor and a passionate advocate for Middle Eastern accounting, founder Fuad Saba—along with his two sons, Suheil and Fawzi Saba, and the firm’s partners and staff—built this one-room office into the Middle East’s leading accounting firm.

Born 1902 in Shefa-‘Amr, an Arab city in what was then Palestine, Saba was educated at the American University of Beirut and received accountancy training in England before starting his firm in 1926. The young firm secured its first major client in 1928: the Arab Bank, the first private-sector bank in the Arab world. The Contracting and Trading Company, a major oil pipeline contractor, followed. Saba moved the firm’s main office from Jerusalem to Beirut, Lebanon, in 1948, coinciding with Beirut’s emergence as a business hub in the Arab world.

Saba & Co. offices opened across the Middle East in the 1940s, including Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. Suheil Saba spearheaded the firm’s growth in Kuwait in 1949, and offices in Saudi Arabia and Libya were added in 1957.

In the 1970s, Saba & Co. hoped to continue associating with major international accounting firms, while also keeping its local identity. At the same time, Touche Ross International wanted to increase its Middle Eastern presence. The two joined forces in 1978. After Touche Ross and Deloitte merged in 1989, Saba & Co. became Deloitte Middle East.

Deloitte ME continues growing today, making an impact to its clients, talent and society. Its practices around the Middle East support clients become leaders wherever they choose to compete, investing in outstanding people of diverse talents and backgrounds and empowering them to achieve more than they could elsewhere.
The organisation has grown in scale and diversity providing services across the region— with the shared culture remaining the same. The aim is to help clients realise their ambitions; make a positive difference in society; and maximize the success of our people. This drive fuels the commitment and humanity that run deep through our every action. More than 1000 Arab and expatriate professionals in the ME joined DME in 2019, bringing total employees to approximately 4000. The member firm promotes gender diversity via the Deloitte ME Retention and Advancement of Women (DRAW) program. It also collaborates with the nonprofit organization INJAZ Al-Arab to help high school students in six Middle Eastern countries develop business skills.

The auditor’s profession was hardly known [in the 1920s] in the Arab world. . . . I did persevere, like any pioneer, with the result that in each year the practice grew within the framework of true professional principles . . . independence, professional knowledge and integrity.

- Fuad Saba, founder of Saba & Co., 1971