CNES Alumni around the World

800 graduate degrees in 30 academic and professional fields, including 75 degrees in Islamic Studies

CNES Alumni around the WorldProfessor Maya Yazigi, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

The breadth and depth of UCLA’s impact on the field of Middle East and Islamic Studies is most clearly demonstrated in the cumulative contributions of its alumni. Since the Center for Near Eastern Studies was established in 1957 by the renowned Orientalist scholar Gustav E. von Grunebaum, some 800 individuals have received graduate degrees in 30 academic and professional fields, including 75 degrees in Islamic Studies. The following individuals exemplify the dedication, hard work and creativity of our graduates.

Humanitarian and Government Service

Farshad Rastegar (Education, 1991) is President and CEO of Relief International–Schools Online. After completing his dissertation on education and revolutionary political mobilization among Afghan refugee students in Pakistan, he founded RI with a focus on assisting refugees and victims of disaster through innovative empowerment strategies. He has personally worked in active conflict areas including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and Tajikistan. Today RI-SOL works in 39 countries. Paul Barker (Islamic Studies, 1979) has been involved in humanitarian relief and infrastructure development for nearly a quarter-century. He is Country Director of the CARE mission in Afghanistan, having previously served with CARE programs in Ethiopia, the West Bank and Gaza, and Egypt.

Brad Hanson (Islamic Studies, 1981) is a seasoned Foreign Service professional whose overseas experience spans more than thirty years. He began his career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran. In addition to Persian, he speaks some Arabic, Pashto, Russian and Uzbek. Over the past two decades he has served in the US State Department in a variety of capacities, including Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassies in Afghanistan and Yemen and Deputy Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq) in the Bureau of Near East Affairs. He is currently taking part in the Senior Seminar, an interagency leadership and management training program at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, DC, and is scheduled to join the US embassy in Uzbekistan in 2005 as Deputy Chief of Mission. Patricia Kabra (History, 1994) is Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Doha. Catherine Elizabeth Sweet (Political Science, 2001) is an Economics Officer at the US Embassy in Kuwait.

Itamar Rabinovich (History, 1971) is President of Tel Aviv University where he previously directed the Dayan Center and also served as Dean of Humanities and Rector. He was Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and under the Rabin government he headed Israel’s negotiations with Syria. Hisham Nazer (Political Science, 1958) was Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Planning and Minister of Petroleum. He is Chairman of the Nazer Group and the author of Power of the Third Kind: The Western Attempt to Colonize the Global Village.

Banking, Commerce and Finance

Mustapha Nabli (Economics, 1974) is Chief Economist and Director of Social and Economic Development for the Middle East and North Africa sector at the World Bank. Before joining the Bank, Nabli served as Tunisia’s Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Planning and Regional Development, and also chaired the Tunis Stock Exchange. Paul Jabber (Political Science, 1974) served as Vice President of Bankers Trust and Chairman of the Middle East Department of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the Founder and President of Globicom, Inc. Adnan Mazarei, Jr. (Economics, 1995) is affiliated with the International Monetary Fund. Mashhour Mourad (Islamic Studies, 1999) is Head of Capital, Liquidity and Corporate Finance in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer of the National Commercial Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Film and Media

Hanna Elias (Film and TV, 1991) directed 60 episodes of the Israeli/Palestinian co-production of Sesame Street. His first feature film, The Olive Harvest, shot with an Israeli crew and a Palestinian cast, won the Best Arab Film and the Special Jury Award at the Cairo International Film Festival in 2003. Dariush Mehrjui (Philosophy and Film Studies, 1964) pioneered modern Iranian filmmaking. He has produced and directed more than 20 features, including The Cow, The Cycle, The Tenants (considered Iran’s best comedy), Hamoon (his most popular film among Iranians), his title-character series Sara, Pari and Leila, and most recently, The Pear Tree. His films have won more than 50 national and international awards. Moustapha Akkad (Theater Arts, 1958) is a native of Syria who settled in Hollywood and directed documentaries before he produced The Message and Lion of the Desert. He is perhaps best known for his Halloween horror series. Nigol Bezjian (Film and TV, 1991) is a poetic documentarian born in Aleppo and based in Beirut. His work focuses on Armenian culture, notably 14 Days in Soviet Armenia, Chickpeas, set in the USA, Roads Full of Apricots, about his personal experience in war-torn Lebanon, and most recently Muron, about the fragrant holy oil used in Armenian baptisms. Joan Mandell (Film and TV, 1991) produces and distributes social issue films and videos. Her works include Gaza Ghetto: Portrait of a Palestinian Family, Voices in Exile: Immigrants and the First Amendment, and Tales From Arab Detroit. She is currently working on Kufiya, a history of perceptions of Palestinian culture. Shihab Jamjoom (Theater Arts, 1970) is former Deputy Minister of Communication for Saudi Arabia and President of the Jamjoom Media Group. Hamid Naficy (Film and TV, 1990) is Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Rice University. He originated the UCLA Iranian Film Festival and is the author of numerous works on media, exile and ethnicity. Elie Chalala (Political Science, 1986) is Founding Editor-in-Chief of Al-Jadid: A Review and Record of Arab Culture and Arts (see Intersections, Winter 2004).


Japan: Hisae Nakanishi (History, 1994) was recently appointed Dean of the Graduate School of International Development at Nagoya University, the first woman advanced to the position. Her most recent book is Islam and Modernity: A Mosaic of Contemporary Iranian Society.

Indonesia: Mohamad Atho’ Mudzhar (1989), Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Religion, formerly Dean of All Islamic Universities in Indonesia and Rector of the Indonesian State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) in Jogja, Central Java; Syamsuddin Sirajuddin (1991), Professor at IAIN, Jakarta, President of the Council of Muslim Intellectuals (scholars and ulama) and one of the most distinguished leaders of the Muhammadiya; Abd. Rachman (1997), IAIN in Semarang, Central Java; Fadhil Lubis (1994), IAIN in Medan, North Sumatra; and Syfiq Mughni (1990), IAIN in East Java, all received their PhDs in Islamic Studies.

Saudi Arabia: Khalid Al-Dakhil (Sociology, 1998), Mishary Al-Nuaim (Political Science, 1987), Abdullah Al-Askar (History, 1985), Mohamed Al-Freih (History, 1990) and Abdullah Mutawa (History, 1989) at King Saud University in Riyadh; Ibrahim Al-Jomaih (History, 1988) at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah; and Abdlaziz Shebl (History, 1988) at the Junior Technical College in Dammam. Numerous UCLA graduates in engineering, management and the sciences are affiliated with the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran and other universities and research institutes.

Israel: David Kushner (History, 1968) and Sami Smooha (Sociology, 1973), Haifa University; Shalom Sabar (Art History, 1987), Hebrew University; Joshua Teitelbaum (Political Science), Tel Aviv University, Michael Laskier (History, 1979) and Edwin Seroussi (Music, 1988), Bar Ilan University; Vered Slonim-Nevo (Social Welfare, 1987), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; and Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman (History, 1981), The Open University.

Iran: Golnar Mehran (Education, 1988) is Associate Professor of Education at Al-Zahra University in Tehran and has been an education consultant for UNICEF. Tunisia: Mohamed Daoud (Applied Linguistics, 1991) heads Anglais Spécialisé (ESL section), Institut Supérieur des Langues Vivantes de Tunis. Egypt: Mohamed El Amrousi (Art History, 2001) is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning at Misr Technical University. Nairy Hampikian (Archaeology, 1997) is Conservation Architect for the American Reserach Center in Egypt. She directed the restoration of Al-Salihiyya and Bab Zuwayla in Cairo.

Great Britain: Ali Reza Sheikholeslami (Islamic Studies, 1975) is Soudevar Professor of Persian Studies in the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford. Andrew Newman III (Islamic Studies, 1986) heads the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Department at the University of Edinburgh. France: Azadeh Kian-Thiébaut (Sociology, 1993) is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Paris VIII, a Researcher at Monde Iranien, CNRS, and a member of the Scientific Council on Turkey, Iran and Central Asia for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education and Research. Germany: Noha El Mikawy (Political Science, 1991) is Senior Research Fellow and Project Coordinator at the Center for Development Research, University of Bonn. Canada: Maya Yazigi (Islamic Studies, 2001) is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

UCLA alumni have excelled as directors of Middle East Centers and Programs in the US, currently including Mehdi Bozorgmehr and Beth Baron (CUNY), Vincent Cornell (Arkansas) and Ibrahim Karawan (Utah). Former directors include Juan Cole (Michigan), Fadwa Malti-Douglas (Indiana) and Heath Lowery (Princeton).

Our graduates have had a particularly strong impact as faculty members in California public universities: Dany Doueiri, CSU San Bernardino; Houri Berberian and Sherry Vatter, CSU Long Beach; Abbas Daneshvari and Afshin Matin Asghari, CSU Los Angeles; Afshin Marashi, CSU Sacramento; Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi, CSU San Marcos; Samy Swayd, San Diego SU; Maziar Behrooz and Carel Bertram, San Francisco SU; Mahmood Ibrahim and Sylvian Castel De Oro, Cal Poly Pomona; Touraj Daryaee, CSU Fullerton; Gerry Hale, Sondra Hale, Richard Hovannisian, Michael Morony and Ismail Poonawala, UCLA; Nancy Gallagher and Scott Marcus, UC Santa Barbara; Shahwali Ahmadi, UC Berkeley; and Etel Solingen, UC Irvine.

Some 200 graduate students are currently completing advanced degrees in Middle Eastern studies across the disciplines, a large proportion of them in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, History, Art History, Islamic Studies, Political Science and Ethnomusicology. No doubt they will continue to advance our knowledge and understanding of the Middle East.