Dr Farsi was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies in Alexandria, he returned to his home town of Jeddah as a qualified architect and entered government service by 1963.
Dr Farsi rose rapidly and just two years later he was appointed the post of ‘Planning Officer for the Kingdom of Western Saudi Arabia’.
The region was larger in size than the UK and contained the port city of Jeddah and the holy cities of Makkah and Medinah within its boundaries. This territory was Saudi Arabia’s window to the world. It was under Dr Farsi’s aegis that plans for these three cities were drawn up: given the immense significance of this work, Dr Farsi liaised with the very highest levels of government.
In 1972 Dr Farsi became the Mayor of Jeddah. A city that had grown from the historic walled city of his childhood, to a large modern metropolitan city of more than 300,000 people. Until the middle of the following decade, Dr Farsi presided over a period spectacular and unprecedented growth that saw its population grow five fold.
In the midst of creating much needed infrastructure, Dr Farsi drew on his own talents as a draftsman and created a city that was as beautiful as it was functional. The carefully preserved historic center, the city’s charming parks and the gracious Corniche reclaimed from the ocean were all creations of Dr Farsi that are still being enjoyed today.
As a collector of Islamic and Western Art, Dr Farsi’s vision as a city planner was to integrate important contemporary art into public spaces. He believed these sculptures would enrich the lives of the inhabitants and reflect the ongoing cultural significance of the city both globally and within the Kingdom. He commissioned works from the great modern masters, including Henry Moore, Victor Vasarely and Cesar that still remain.
At the time he stepped down from public office in 1986 Jeddah boasted over 400 pieces of public Art. In 2010 Dr Farsi was recognised for his efforts by being made a Patron of the Arts for the Middle East.
Dr Farsi has always been conscious of the advantages and opportunities that he has enjoyed. Throughout his life he has given generously to numerous and varied charitable causes, hoping to improve the lives of those less fortunate than him.
His son Hani explains, “I was brought up in a house where my father would wake up in the morning open his newspaper and read about a train crash. He would give a call to get the names of every single family who suffered the loss of a loved one and those who became orphans, and would then ensure that those families would be looked after financially. Those families would be taken care of by my Father. He never mentions it and very few people know of it, but I have so much admiration for him and for those countless acts of charity and kindness”.