6 Arabs Who Received the Nobel Prize
By: Ani Karapetyan/Contributing Writer
We all know about the Nobel Prize, which is awarded for outstanding achievements in such areas as physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, literature, and economics. It is also awarded for a special contribution to the consolidation of peace.
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, and inventor. On November 27 of 1895, in the Swedish-Norwegian club of Paris, Nobel established a trust designating much of his wealth to establish the Nobel Prize. Since then, the award has been given annually, regardless of the nationality of the candidate.
In this article, we will talk about the Arabs who became Nobel Prize winners.
1. Anwar Sadat (1918-1981)
After the October war (the wars between Egypt and Israel), Anwar Sadat made a big step towards peace by visiting the Israeli parliament with a plan for a peace treaty. Then, in 1978, Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Agreement, which put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula. In the same year, both were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
2. Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006)
Naguib Mahfouz was an Egyptian writer. He is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic Literature to explore themes of existentialism. He published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and five plays over a 70-year career. Many of his works have been made into Egyptian and foreign films.
In 1988 Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was awarded to him, “who, through works rich in nuance–now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”
3. Yasser Arafat (1929-2004)
The head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, chairman of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, together with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin “for their efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.”
The award, among the world’s most prestigious, recognized the boldness and courage of the three in fashioning the basic accord on Palestinian self-government as a step toward ending a long-term conflict.
That agreement, the product of months of secret negotiations in Oslo and in guest houses in the Norwegian countryside, brought a fundamental shift in Middle East politics.
The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1979, marked the acceptance of the Jewish state in the Middle East by the biggest and most powerful Arab nation at the time, Egypt. Likewise, the deal struck by Arafat and Rabin reflected the acceptance by Palestinians and Israelis of each other as neighbors in a land both have claimed as their own.
Unfortunately, the efforts of both Camp David and Oslo produced no progress regarding the over 50-year occupation of the Palestinian people.
4. Ahmed Zewail (1946-2016)
Ahmed Zewail was an Egyptian-American scientist, known as the “father of femtochemistry“. He was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry. He became the first Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field. He was the Linus Pauling Chair, Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Physics, and the director of the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at the California Institute of Technology.
Ahmad Zeveil received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the study of transition states arising during chemical reactions using femtosecond techniques.”
5. Mohamed El Baradei (born: 1942)
Mohamed El Baradei is an Egyptian law scholar and diplomat who was the last Vice-President of Egypt, serving on an interim basis from July 14, 2013, until his resignation on August 14, 2013.
He and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. El Baradei was also prominently featured in the Western press regarding relatively recent politics in Egypt, particularly the 2011 revolution which ousted President Hosni Mubarak, and in addition, the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état.
In 2005, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the IAEA and its head, Egyptian citizen Mohammed El Baradei “for efforts to prevent the use of nuclear energy for military purposes and to ensure its most safe use for peaceful purposes.”
6.Tawakkol Karman (born: 1979)
Tawakkol Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician, and human rights, activist. She leads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005. She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab Spring uprisings.
Karman has been called the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” by Yemenis. She is a co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize and the second youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date.
The Prize was awarded to Karman together with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee “for the non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for the full participation of women in building peace.”