Emile Bustani Middle East Seminar

About Emile Bustani

Emile M. Bustani, received an SB in civil
engineering from MIT in 1933. He headed
the leading engineering and contracting
firm in the Arab world and was a prominent
Lebanese statesman until his untimely
death in 1963.
Photo by Life Magazine  

Emile Bustani was born into a poor Lebanese family in 1907, in the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire. When he died in an airplane crash in 1963, he was one of the most influential businessmen and philanthropists in the Middle East and a leading figure in the politics of the region.

Emile Bustani looked less to the glories of an Arab past than to the possibilities of a dynamic Arab renaissance. He combined the technological skills he learned as a civil engineer student at MIT (SB 1933) and his experience gained by working for the Iraq Petroleum Company, with the ideals of nineteenth-century philanthropists. He used the fortune acquired through CAT, the contracting and trading company he founded in 1936, to help revitalize Lebanon and neighboring countries.

Financial success enabled Emile Bustani to turn his attention to Lebanese politics in the early years of his country's independence after World War II. He was elected a member of Parliament in Lebanon in 1951, an office he held until his death. During the civil strife which plagued Lebanon in 1958, and led to the deployment of United States marines in the country, he played a crucial role in overcoming the crisis. He was one of the few eminent figures in the Middle East to remain on good terms with almost all the Arab leaders of his day, his counsel much valued throughout the region. Had he lived, many believe he would have become President of Lebanon. Few would have been more likely to reconcile the irreconcilable. His charm, honesty, good nature, and gift for friendship made him an irresistible negotiator.

In addition to his business and political career, Emile Bustani devoted himself to higher education in the Arab world. His special interest was the American University of Beirut, the leading institution of higher learning in the region, where he had taken his first undergraduate degree in 1928. He was a member of the AUB Board of Trustees and President of its Alumni Association. His philanthropic activities on behalf of the AUB and his fierce commitment to modern liberal education for men and women were enormous. That commitment has been sustained by his family to this day.

Mrs. Laura Bustani and Mrs. Myrna Bustani, Emile Bustani's widow and daughter, wishing to honor his memory and his deep and lasting contribution to higher education and to peace in the Middle East, established in 1985 the Emile Bustani Middle East Seminar at his American university home, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Bustani Middle East Seminar is organized under the auspices of the MIT Center for International Studies, which conducts research on contemporary international issues and provides an opportunity for faculty and students to share perspectives and exchange views. Each year the Bustani Seminar invites scholars, journalists, consultants, and other experts from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States to MIT to present recent research findings on contemporary politics, society and culture, and economic and technological development in the Middle East.

The Bustani Seminar complements MIT's teaching and research in the Middle East, which cover such fields as history, political science, economics, anthropology architecture, urban studies, management, and engineering. It is open to the entire MIT community and to the general public. The Bustani Seminar is chaired by Philip S. Khoury, Ford International Professor of History and Vice Provost at MIT.

The inaugural lecture in the seminar series was delivered on October 3, 1985, by Albert Hourani, of the University of Oxford. His lecture "Lebanon: The Development of a Political Society" was published in 1986 by the MIT Center for International Studies.


Previous Speakers

Others who have addressed the Bustani Seminar, and their affiliation at the time, include:
Christophe Abi-Nassif Middle East Institute
Joelle Abi-Rached Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Ervand Abrahamian Baruch College, CUNY
Feroz Ahmad University of Massachusetts
Leila Ahmed University of Massachusetts
Taner Akçam Clark University
Ibrahim Al-Assil Middle East Institute
Hala Aldosari Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lamis Andoni Harvard University
Mohammed Arkoun Univ La Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris
Bernard Avishai KPMG, Boston
Sadek El-Azem University of Damascus
Sahar Aziz Rutgers Law School
Robert Azzi Photojournalist
Andrew Bacevich Boston University
Ali Banuazizi Boston College
James Bill The College of William & Mary
Barbara Bodine Harvard University
Chloe Bordewich University of Toronto
Nora Boustany The Washington Post
Michaelle Browers Wake Forest University
L. Carl Brown Princeton University
Gilbert Burnham Johns Hopkins University
Melani Cammett Harvard University
Naomi Chazan Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Dominique Chevallier University of Paris-Sorbonne
Helena Cobban Brookings Institution
David Commins Dickinson College
Georges Corm Paris
Eric Davis Rutgers University
Alexander de Waal World Peace Foundation
Assia Djebar Louisiana State University
Charles Dunbar Simmons College
Khaled Fahmy Tufts University
Mamoun Fandy Georgetown University
Leila Farsakh CIS, MIT
F. Gregory Gause III University of Vermont
Irene Gendzier Boston University
Fawaz Gerges Sarah Lawrence College
Kim Ghattas Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Fatma Muge Gocek University of Michigan
Nilüfer Göle Bogazici University
Alain Gresh Le Monde Diplomatique
Leon Hadar American University
Yvonne Haddad University of Massachusetts
Lydia Harrington The Syria Museum
Bernard A. Haykel Princeton University
Arthur Hertzberg Columbia University
Nadia Hijab United Nations
Raymond Hinnebusch College of St. Catherine
Christopher Hitchens The Nation Magazine
Cecil Hourani London
Michael Hudson Georgetown University
Rima Khalaf Hunaidi United Nations
Hussein Ibish American Task Force on Palestine
Resat Kasaba University of Washington
Farhad Kazemi New York University
Nikki Keddie UCLA
Herbert Kelman Harvard University
Samir Khalaf AUB/Princeton University
Sulayman Khalaf Harvard University
Rashid Khalidi University of Chicago
Walid Khalidi Harvard University
Rami G. Khouri Daily Star, Beirut
Elias Khoury New York University
Eberhard Kienle Université d'Aix-Marseille
Stephen Kinzer Brown University
Judith Kipper Brookings Institution
Joseph Kostiner Tel Aviv University
Peter Krause PhD '11 Boston College
Christina Lassen Harvard University
Bruce Lawrence Duke University
William Lawrence North Africa Program for International Crisis Group
Ann Lesch Villanova University
Ian Lustick University of Pennsylvania
Marc Lynch The George Washington University
Robert Mabro Oxford University
Ussama Makdisi Rice University
Kanan Makiya Brandeis University
Chibli Mallat Université Saint-Joseph
Robert Malley International Crisis Group
Moshe Maoz Hebrew University
Serif Mardin Bogazici University
Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot UCLA
Tarek Masoud Harvard Kennedy School
Safwan Masri Columbia University
Fatema Mernissi Mohammed V University
Dalia Mogahed Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
Ahmad Moussalli American University of Beirut
Marwan Muasher Carnegie Endowment
Richard Murphy Council on Foreign Relations
Salim Nasr Ford Foundation
Augustus Richard Norton United States Military Academy
Roger Owen Oxford/Harvard
Matti Peled Tel Aviv University
Rudolph Peters University of Amsterdam
Kenneth Pollack PhD '96 Brookings Institution
William B. Quandt PhD '68 Brookings Institution
Abdul-Karim Rafeq College of William & Mary
André Raymond Université de Provence
Hugh Roberts Tufts University
Nadim Rouhana Fletcher School, Tufts University
Olivier Roy CNRS, Paris
Sarah Roy CIS, MIT
Dankwart Rustow City University of New York
Malise Ruthven British Broadcasting Corporation
Yahya Sadowski Brookings Institution
Emile Sahliyeh University of North Texas
Nawaf Salam American University of Beirut
Ghassan Salamé University of Paris
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani Virginia Tech
Paul Salem American University of Beirut
Harold Saunders American Enterprise Institute
Patrick Seale The Observer, London
Elaine Sciolino The New York Times
Anthony Shadid The Boston Globe
Hanan Al-Shaykh London
Jonathan Shimshoni Princeton University
Gary Sick Columbia University
Steven Simon Center for International Studies, MIT
Marion Farouk-Sluglett University of Swansea
Peter Sluglett University of Durham
Naghmeh Sohrabi SB '94 Brandeis University
Ahdaf Soueif Arab Cultural Foundation, London
Charles Smith Wayne State University
Denis Sullivan Northeastern University
Riad Tabbarah Washington, D.C.
Salim Tamari Institute of Jerusalem Studies
Shibley Telhami Cornell University
Mark Tessler University of Michigan
Bassam Tibi University of Gottingen
Abdullah Toukan PhD '76 Amman, Jordan
Fawwaz Traboulsi Lebanese American University
Brian Urquhart Ford Foundation
Robert Vitalis SM '84, PhD '89 University of Pennsylvania
John Voll University of New Hampshire
Ibrahim Warde Le Monde Diplomatique
John Waterbury Princeton University/AUB
Maha Yahya PhD '05 Carnegie Middle East Center
Malika Zeghal Harvard University
John Zogby Zogby International
Marvin Zonis PhD '63 University of Chicago