Most Tunisians would associate the surname Cheikh-Rouhou with Habib Cheikh-Rouhou, one of the militants that propelled Tunisia’s independence from France and the founder of the famous Tunisian newspaper Assabah. Indeed, Moncef Cheikh-Rouhou is the eldest son of H. Cheikh-Rouhou.
Born in 1945 before independence, Moncef Cheikh-Rouhou pursued most of his education in France, just like most wealthy Tunisian families at that time. M. Cheikh-Rouhou majored in engineering at the well-known “Ecole Centrale” of Paris and then had an MBA and a PhD from the University of California at Berkley, USA. He is a faculty member at the prestigious HEC Paris, where he teaches international finance.
In 1981, Cheikh-Rouhou founded and directed the Development Finance Institute (IFID) of the Maghreb Region. He inherited the Assabah group after the death of his father in 1994 and was the head of the publication department. Cheikh-Rouhou’s enlarged his knowledge of economics and world finance through a 10-years experience at a Tunisian-gulf bank known as the “Investment Bank.” Cheikh-Rouhou was also a member of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council and is now the vice-president of the Circle of Arab Economists. He also occupied the position of vice-president at the municipality of Carthage.
While Cheikh-Rouhou was not particularly politically active during the rule of Ben Ali, he was surely in opposition to the regime’s strategies and the rule of the Trabelsi family clan that almost ruined the Tunisian economy through its “mafia network” and widespread corruption.
In 2000, Cheikh-Rouhou had to sell his Assabah shares to Sakher el-Matri and was forced to leave the country, living in Paris in exile along with his family.
Cheikh-Rouhou did not remain impartial after the revolution of January 14th. He worked closely together with the media, helping to assess the economic future of the country. Experts expected him to come back as the minister of finance during Tunisia’s democratic transition, but, in lieu, Cheikh-Rouhou decided to head the Democratic Progressive Party (PDP) in Tunis 2, a crucial poll prominent parties are competing for under independent lists.
The Progressive Democratic Party won one seat in the constituent in Tunis 2 district and therefor Cheikh-Rouhou is now part of the Constituent Assembly.