Dr. Ismail Serageldin


In February 2016, the Foundation Alliance of Civilizations presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Ismail Serageldin, the Founder and Director of the Library of Alexandria, for his outstanding contribution to dialogue and understanding among civilizations.



Dr. Ismail Serageldin is the Founding Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA), the new Library of Alexandria, inaugurated in 2002. He also chairs the Boards of Directors for each of the BA's affiliated research institutes and museums. He is advisor to the Egyptian Prime Minister in matters concerning culture, science and museums. He serves as Chair or Member of a number of advisory committees for academic, research, scientific and international institutions and civil society efforts, including as co-Chair of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC), and serves on the Advisory Committee of the World Social Science Report for 2013 and 2016, as well as the UNESCO-supported World Water Scenarios (2013) and the executive council of the Encyclopedia of Life (2010) and Chairs the Executive Council of the World Digital Library (2010). Dr. Ismail Serageldin is a member in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine's (NAM) Committee studying Human Gene Editing: Scientific, Medical and Ethical Considerations. He also co-chaired the African Union’s high level panel for Biotechnology (2006) and again for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in 2012-2013, and was a member of the ICANN Panel for the review of the internet future (2013).

Before that he notably co-chaired the Inter-Academy Panel on Capacity Building for Science in (2003-2004) and was a member of the High Level group for the Alliance of Civilizations convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations (2006-2007). He has held many important international positions, including Vice President of the World Bank (1992-2000), and Chairman Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR, 1994-2000), founder and former Chairman of the Global Water Partnership (GWP, 1996-2000) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), a microfinance program (1995-2000) and was professor of the International Savoirs Contre Pauvreté (Knowledge Against Poverty), at Collège de France, Paris, and distinguished professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

He is a member of many academies, including the US National Academy of Sciences (Public Welfare Medalist), the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS), the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, the African Academy of Sciences, Institut d'Egypte (Egyptian Academy of Science), the Royal Belgian Academy, the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He lectures widely, and has delivered the Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg (2011) and the Nexus Lecture in Tilburg, the Netherlands (2011) as well as the opening keynote address to the first International Summit of the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington DC (2012).

He has received the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan and the Legion d’Honneur from France and is a Commandeur of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. In 2013, Dr. Ismail Serageldin and the BA received the Calouste Gulbenkian International Prize for thoughts and actions that make a decisive contribution to, and have significant impact on understanding, defending and fostering the universal values of respect for diversity and difference, a culture of tolerance and the conservation of the environment. He has also received the Pablo Neruda Medal from Chile, India’s Bajaj Prize for upholding Gandhian values outside India, and was the first recipient of the Grameen Prize for lifelong efforts to fight poverty, and received the Champion of Youth Award by the World Youth Congress in Canada.

Dr. Ismail Serageldin has published over 100 books and monographs and over 500 papers on a variety of topics, including biotechnology, rural development, sustainability, and the value of science to society. He has hosted a cultural program on television in Egypt (over 130 episodes) and developed a TV Science Series in Arabic and English. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Cairo University and a Master's Degree and a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has received 35 honorary doctorates.