American University of Beirut

Ismail Serageldin

A humanitarian, noted public intellectual, and author, Dr. Ismail Serageldin has made indelible contributions to numerous fields in his native country Egypt and internationally. Over the course of a remarkable career distinguished by a variety of highly influential positions, Serageldin has proven himself to be an indispensable proponent of conservation, the arts, and the creation of a more tolerant, just, and humane society. 

Through his leadership, his teaching, his writing, and his tireless advocacy of the values he holds dear, he has made a lasting impact on the world around him. His numerous publications, on topics ranging from architecture and literature to political reform and environmental sustainability, are a testament to the breadth of his learning and expertise. So, too, are the many awards he has received: France’s Legion d’Honneur, Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun, Chile’s Pablo Neruda Award, and the first ever Grameen Prize, in recognition of his commitment to eradicating poverty, to name just a few. 

Currently, Serageldin serves as the Founding Director and Chairman of the Board of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new Library of Alexandria, established in 2002. Housing millions of books and welcoming 1.5 million visitors annually, the complex is a feat of architecture and engineering. Featuring numerous specialized libraries, museums, galleries, and a planetarium, the facility aims “to recapture the spirit of openness and scholarship of the original Bibliotheca Alexandrina.”

Serageldin also serves as cultural and scientific advisor to the Egyptian Prime Minister; as Chairman of the Executive Council of the World Digital Library, a project of the U.S. Library of Congress; and as a chair and member of a number of boards and advisory committees devoted to a range of scientific, academic, and civil society initiatives. During his 28-year tenure at the World Bank, he championed issues related to culture, civil society, gender, the environment, and governance. Among the initiatives he led were water management, sustainable development, and education. Serageldin’s efforts to ameliorate conditions for people in the developing world have continued uninterrupted.

Ismail Serageldin completed his BS in Engineering at Cairo University and later obtained a Master’s in Regional Planning and a PhD from Harvard University.

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