Election Year: 

  • 2009

Said Jalal Karim, known as Said Jalal Nabagha, was born in Kabul in 1969.

He was admitted to the French-run Istiqlal High School at the age of six.

He received the higher secondary school certificate from the same school two years later – 10 years ahead of his classmates.

Because of his ability, he was nicknamed as Nabagha (Prodigy). He got admission to the Engineering Department of Kabul University in 1978. Then he went to New York and joined Columbia University.

At the age of nine, he was courted by some of America's most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

His remarkable story was covered by the New York Times, Daily News and other prominent media outlets. As a college student in the US, he was forced to return to Kabul in compliance with orders from former communist-backed President Hafizullah Amin.

He and his father were then sent to Moscow University where Jalal studied Russian, mathematics and physics in a special programme.

By 1980, his remaining family in Kabul managed to flee to Pakistan, which gave Jalal and his father an opening to return.

Though it was not easy to leave Russia, yet they were finally able to come back to Afghanistan before meeting their family in Pakistan.

After living in Pakistan for six months, they immigrated to Saudi Arabia, where Jalal entered the prestigious King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

He studied engineering, physics and Arabic. Less than three years later, at age 14, he dropped out of school to support his family.

As an entrepreneur, he established and sold more than a dozen successful companies, including some based in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

His business partners have included multi-national corporations and members of the royal families from different countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Jalal still found time to study business, international and Islamic law.

Outside of his career as a successful businessman, in the early 1990s, he tried to negotiate a political solution to the civil war by mediating between Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as rival factions involved in the conflict.

In 1997, he claims to have secured the release of 10 Iranian hostages as a result of talks with the Taliban regime.

A year later, he successfully negotiated a one-month ceasefire and the exchange of over 1,200 prisoners between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban.

A married man with three daughters and a son, he established the radio station known as Voice of Afghanistan, which advances the interests of independent, moderate Afghans from outside the country.