Amid the fear and uncertainty that gripped Palestine in the Spring of 1948, George Mubadda Khoury, a young man of 21 years, left his hometown of Ramleh to accompany his mother and two sisters as they fled across the border into neighboring Jordan. At first, his father Mubadda and older brother Joseph stayed behind to defend Ramleh, but would soon join the rest of their family in Amman when it became clear that they would not be able to resist the tragic fate of their homeland.
Mr. Khoury knew he would have to build a new life for himself and his family. With only a modest high school education and limited professional experience working as an interpreter for a British judge in Jaffah, by his persistence and determination he was able to secure employment as an accountant for a local textile trader in Amman. His next job would later prove to be a significant milestone in his career. As an accountant for a local drug store, he developed his knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, setting him along his future path.
In 1951, Mr. Khoury partnered with a friend to establish a drug store in Amman. Although the venture was short-lived, it proved to be a valuable learning experience that Mr. Khoury would draw upon when he went on to establish his own drug store the following year. He secured his first distribution agreement with May & Baker Pharmaceuticals in 1952. When the company’s representative Mr. Albert Hackfield awarded the distribution rights to Mr. Khoury during a trip to Jordan, he was asked why he would entrust the business to Mr. Khoury who had no track record and no resources, Mr. Hackfield replied: “Because he is a hungry man!” And thus was the beginning of Khoury Drug Stores.
Despite that initial success, Mr. Khoury would continue to face obstacles. In need of a loan to fund his first purchase of pharmaceuticals, he approached several local banks, all of which rejected his loan requests. As he began to question the likelihood of his success, Mr. Khoury’s fate changed when a representative of the Ottoman Bank (later acquired by Grindlays and today part of the Standard Chartered network) heard his story and decided to offer him a loan of 750 dinars.
Mr. Khoury continued to grow his business through sacrifice, hard work and perseverance, overcoming various obstacles while navigating the turbulent political environment of the Middle East. He would travel throughout Jordan and the West Bank making his sales trips by bus and operating the business entirely on his own before he could afford to hire any staff. Despite the enormous language barrier and significant challenges of early air travel, he was one of the first business people in Jordan to travel to the Far East in pursuit of opportunities. In the early 1960s, he became the first importer of Chinese cotton and gauze to Jordan. During his many trips abroad, Mr. Khoury’s only communication with his family was the occasional telegraph that he was able to transmit back home to let them know he was okay.
In 1971, Mr. Khoury expanded his import business to include fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), becoming the exclusive distributor of SunQuick and Sensodyne in Jordan. The following year, he was appointed as the official agent for Phillip Morris overseeing the Jordanian duty-free market.
Mr. Khoury was a prominent member of his community and served as a leader of various local and international associations, including the Amman Rotary Club, the Jordanian Scandinavian Friendship Association, and the Jordanian Korean Friendship Association. In 1968, he was appointed as the Honorary Consular General of the Kingdom of Norway. In recognition of his dedicated service and devotion to building bridges across cultures, Mr. Khoury was awarded the Swedish Medal of the Polar Star “Knight of the First Order” by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in 1989 and the Norwegian Medal of St. Olav, Class “Commander” in 1990 and Class “Knight of the First Order” in 1991, by King Olav V of Norway.
Mr. Khoury’s success afforded him the means to send his four children to attend universities in the United States. Upon completing their educations in the 1980s, they returned to Jordan to join their father’s business. They brought new ideas and introduced the latest technologies, including computerization of the company’s systems in 1983. With the contributions of the second generation, Khoury Drug Stores succeeded in adapting to a rapidly changing world while still upholding the values upon which the company was established. This has been the key to the company’s success ever since.
A family business in the truest sense, Khoury Drug Stores was now not only managed by Mr. Khoury together with his children, but had also begun to welcome the next generation of employees whose parents had also been part of the Khoury Drug Stores family – a proud tradition that continues to this day.
As the business continued expanding into new areas, Mr. Khoury’s eldest son Ramsey established Medica as a separate company in 1996, incorporating the FMCG and medical supplies businesses, while Khoury Drug Stores would continue its focus within the pharmaceutical sector. In 2016, after two decades of continuous growth within MEDICA, Mr. Ramsey Khoury established Medical Interactive Consumables and Accessories as a standalone entity, giving the medical supplies business the dedicated resources it needed to fuel its further growth, while MEDICA would be devoted to specializing in the FMCG market. Under the umbrella of GMK Group, the companies continue their impressive growth with ever expanding portfolios of new products.
Mr. Ramsey Khoury followed in his father’s footsteps, assuming an active role in his community and leading various local and international associations, including many of the same ones as his father. In 2003, Mr. Ramsey was appointed as Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Ireland.
Keeping with the family tradition, GMK Group began welcoming the third generation into the business in 2005. They continue to cherish and uphold the values instilled by their grandfather, operating on principles of integrity, honesty, and hard work.
Mr. Khoury departed this world in 2008, but his spirit lives on in the memory of all those who knew him and whose lives were touched by his kindness and generosity. He was an honest man, a hard worker, and a visionary who made tremendous sacrifices in service to his family. At GMK Group, we are inspired by his memory and work hard to preserve his legacy across successive generations.