Maen Rashid Areikat was born on October 12, 1960 in Jericho in the West Bank. He comes from a family that was and still is influential in the politics of Jordan and Palestine. Maen became involved in politics at a young age, largely due to the involvement of his late father, Rashid, in political activities against the Israeli occupation. He was jailed twice by the Isarelis at the ages of 16 and 17 years old, and he was banned from travel abroad.
Mr. Areikat left Jericho to England and the US in 1978 where he received his degree of Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University in the US in 1983, and later his MBA in management from Western International University in 1987 in Phoenix, Arizona in the US. While at ASU, he was elected the president of General Union of Palestine Students from 1981-1983. He was active in student activities both on and off campus.
Upon his return to Palestine in 1992, he started work with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, the official spokeswoman of the Palestinian Delegation to the Peace Talks with Israel. Mr. Areikat then joined the Orient House, the headquarters of the Palestinian Team to the peace talks, and became the spokesperson of the Orient House and the late Mr. Faisal Husseini, the PLO Executive Committee member in charge of Jerusalem Affairs. In 1994, he became the Desk Officer of the US, Canada, Australia, and South Africa at the International Relations Department of the Orient House. He held that position until his departure from the Orient House in 1998.
From 1993-1998, Mr. Areikat took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Beit Hanoun and Erez in Gaza and Taba in Egypt in 1996, Jerusalem in 1997, and was an official member of the Palestinian delegation at Wye River in the US in 1998.
In 1998, Mr. Areikat moved from the Orient House in Jerusalem to become Director-General of the Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) of the PLO in Ramallah, headed by current Palestinian National Authority President Mr. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who was the Secretary General of the PLO’s Executive Committee. His tasks included supervision of NAD and the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), which provides legal, policy , communication, and technical support to the Palestinian Negotiating Teams with Israel, and to the Palestinian National Authority. The NSU is supported by the governments of the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands and managed by the London-based Adam Smith International.
Mr. Areikat traveled extensively in the region and abroad visiting various countries and taking part in lectures and symposiums about the Middle East and the Palestinians. He spoke at Boston College in 1996 and New York University in 1997. He also accompanied both late Mr. Faisal Husseini and Mr. Mahmoud Abbas on visits abroad to the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Jordan, and the UK. Mr. Areikat received diplomatic training at the Ministry of External Affairs in Ottawa, Canada in 1993 and 1994.
Mr. Areikat is married to Jumana and has three boys, Rashid, Saif, and Amr.