Maher Arar was born in Syria in 1970 and moved to Canada with his parents at the age of 17 in 1987 to avoid mandatory military service. In 1991, Arar became a Canadian citizen.
Arar earned a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from McGill University and a master's degree in telecommunications from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (a branch of the Université du Québec) in Montreal. While studying at McGill University, Arar met Monia Mazigh. Arar and Mazigh married in 1994. Mazigh holds a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University. They have two children: Barâa and Houd.
In December 1997, Arar moved with his family to Ottawa from Montreal and listed Abdullah Almalki as his "emergency contact" with his landlord. In 1999, he moved again to Boston to work for MathWorks, a job that required a considerable amount of travel within the United States. In 2001, Arar returned to Ottawa to start his own consulting company, Simcomms Inc. At the time of his rendition, Arar was employed in Ottawa as a telecommunications engineer.
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