Some of those recognized Internationally

Do you know these Arabs who are recognized internationally?

GIBRAN KHALIL GIBRAN [Artist, Poet, Philosopher]

" Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Many of us know this as a quotation from a speech made by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961. It is less well known that this quote appeared thirty six years earlier in Gibran's essay "The New Frontier".

Almost 70 years after his death, Gibran is still held in high regard as an important writer.

• Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) born as Gibran Khalil Gibran, influenced the modern Arabic literature and composed inspirational pieces in English, including [The Prophet].

• Oldest child of Khalil Gibran and his wife Kamila Rahme, was born in Bsharri a scenic region near the ancient Cedars of Lebanon, then part of Syria and the Ottoman Turkish Empire. His life as a child included few material comforts and very little formal early education. However, he received a strong spiritual heritage.

• Seeking a better future, the mother immigrated to America in 1895. They joined relatives and shared a residence in South Boston, Massachusetts. Kamila Gibran sold lace to support her four children and opened a small dry goods store. While registering for public school, Gibran's name was shortened and changed forever.

• His life changed when his art teacher noticed his artistic skill. Florence Peirce with Jessie Fremont Beale, a philanthropist, arranged for Gibran's introduction to Fred Holland Day in December 1896 who was an "artistic" photographer.

• After discovering Gibran's aptitude for literature and art, Day proclaimed him a "natural genius" and became his mentor. Gibran designed book illustrations, sketches and portraits.

• He then went to Beirut, Lebanon, in 1898 to attend Madrasat-al-Hikmah, a Maronite college to study Arabic literature and co-founded a literary magazine.

• Returning to Boston in 1902, he experienced family tragedy. During 1902 and 1903 Kamila, one of his sisters and half brother died of tuberculosis, then his mother died of cancer. Marianna his sister, a seamstress, supported both herself and Gibran.

• Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who became his patron and tutor in English for two decades. The owner of Miss Haskell's School for Girls and, later, headmistress of the Cambridge School, she believed he would have an outstanding future and was a major factor in Gibran's success as an English writer and artist.

• Diverse influences, including the English Romantic poets, mystic William Blake, and philosopher Nietzsche, combined with his Besharri experience, shaped Gibran's artistic and literary career.

• Some of his other writings, including “Broken Wings”, “The Procession”, “The Madman”. “Sand and Foam” and “The Prophet”. He became the best known of the “Mahjar poets” or immigrant Arabic writers.

• The slim volume of parables, illustrated with Gibran's drawings, is one of America's all-time best selling books.

• These two aphorisms from “Sand and Foam” convey Gibran's message:

Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.

How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? How shall your hand be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold?

Reproduced from with permission (Mahmoud Abu Rumieleh, Webmaster).

EDWARD SAID [Intellectual Scholar, Music Critic, Humanitarian Activist]

• Born in Jerusalem in 1935.

• The late Edward Said was a Literary theorist, respected music and cultural critic, political activist, and an outspoken advocate for a Palestinian state. He was Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and is regarded as a founding figure in postcolonial theory.

• He wrote a column appearing in "The Nation"

• He authored more than a dozen volumes on everything from the Middle East to English literature

DR. MICHAEL DeBAKEY [Heart Surgeon]

• Born in 1908 of Lebanese parents who immigrated to the U.S.A.

• He volunteered for military service during World War II, becoming the Director of the Surgical Consultants' Division in the United States Army Surgeon General's Office. During his term in military service, Dr. DeBakey proposed a series of mobile field medical units called Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (M.A.S.H.) units, which allowed experienced medical personnel quick access to the wounded, the M.A.S.H. was also adopted during the Korean War and was highly successful.

• Is chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine and director of the DeBakey Heart Center, a joint venture of Baylor and The Methodist Hospital.

• DeBakey is world renown as a cardiovascular surgeon, innovator, and medical educator.

• DeBakey's fame stems largely from his innovations in treating cardiovascular conditions. He was the first to do successful excision and grafting of arterial lesions.

• A pioneer in the development of the artificial heart, he was the first to use a heart pump successfully in a patient.

• DeBakey has also developed more than 70 surgical instruments. While still a medical student, he devised a pump that years later became one of the essential components of the heart-lung machine that made open-heart surgery possible.

• He also conceived the idea of lining a bypass pump and its connections with Dacron velour

DR. ELIAS JAMES COREY [Winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

• Elias James Corey born in July 12, 1928 to Lebanese immigrants in Methuen, Massachusetts, born William Corey.

• His mother changed his name to "Elias" to honor his father who died eighteen months after the birth of his son. His widowed mother, brother, two sisters and an aunt and uncle all lived together in a spacious house- struggling through the depression. He attended Catholic elementary school and Lawrence public High School.

• He is a renowned American organic chemist, and has been lauded as one of the giants of 20th century chemists.

• In 1990 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of “the theory and methodology of organic synthesis”. Regarded by many as one of the greatest living chemists, he has developed numerous synthetic reagents, methodologies, and has advanced the science of organic synthesis considerably.

• He was awarded the Japan Prize in 1989.

• He was awarded the American Chemical Society's greatest honor, the Priestley Medal, in 2004.

• In 1959, he moved to Harvard University, where he is currently an emeritus professor of organic chemistry.


• Born in Nabatieh, Lebanon on August 16, 1895. Was an electrical and electronics research engineer, mathematician and inventor par excellence.

• He studied at the American University of Beirut. He taught mathematics at Imperial College of Damascus, Syria, and at the American University of Beirut. He died in an automobile accident at Lewis near Elizabeth Town, N.Y. in 1935.

• In 1921, he travelled to the United States and for a short time studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the University of Illinois in 1923.

• He worked at the Engineering Laboratory of the General Electric Company (GE) at Schenectady N.Y. in 1923 where he was engaged in mathematical and experimental research, principally on rectifiers and inverters.

• He received 43 patents covering his work. Among the patents were reported innovations in television transmission. However, Sabbah had signed a contract with GE whereby all his inventions became the property of the company, and so he received a reward of one dollar for each of his patented inventions.

• His inventions in electricity had a great impact on the development of 20th century technology.

Other Arab Americans who are recognized internationally

Paul Anka - Canadian-born singer-songwriter became one of America’s first pop teen idols

Joseph Abboud - Fashion designer

Bobby Rahal - Winner of the Indy 500 race

Casey Kasem - Radio legend

Donna Shalala - U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

Ralph Nader - Consumer protection advocate

Rony Seikaly - Pro Basketball Player

Joseph Haggar - Entrepreneur (Haggar Clothing Company)

Doug Flutie - San Diego Chargers quarterback Chicago Bears

Bill George – Linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer

Joe Lahoud - Major League baseball player

Helen Thomas - Served for 57 years as a correspondent for United Press International and was dean of the White House press corps.

Jacques Nasser - Formerly the president and CEO of Ford Motor Company

Paula Abdul - Singer-dancer-choreographer

Tony Shalhoub- Actor

Salma Hayek - Actress

Link to Arab American Institute website for the brochure titled “Arab Americans Making a Difference” by Casey Kasem, an Arab American Institute Brochure



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