Ahmad S. Dallal, a history professor at the American University of Beirut, will serve as the new dean of the School of Foreign Service in Qatar starting Sept. 1.
Dallal previously served as provost of the American University in Beirut from 2009 to 2015, after serving as chair of Georgetown's Arabic and Islamic Studies department from 2003 to 2009.
Dallal's work focuses on both past and present Islamic culture. Dallal has published three books and over 40 articles on the history of Islamic thought and law, and has also served as an adviser to the planning committee of the primary exhibition at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
Dallal said he will look to both strengthen SFS-Q's existing presence in Qatar and seek paths to expansion.
"I hope to build on and continue the great work that the former deans have accomplished on two key fronts — anchoring Georgetown Qatar within the larger landscape of higher education in the country and the region and maintaining the academic excellence of current programs while exploring possibilities of future program expansion," Dallal said in a university press release. Dallal will bring a unique background to the position, according to University President John J. DeGioia.
"Dr. Dallal has a deep understanding of our community in Qatar and is sought after for his expert scholarship and leadership abilities — we look forward to the many ways he will strengthen our entire university in the time ahead," DeGioia said in the release.
Dallal has received several awards for his work, including being named a Carnegie Scholar and receiving a Fellowship on Traditions of Reform in Eighteenth-Century Islamic Thought from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dallal joins SFS-Q amid heightened tensions both on campus and in Qatar. Eleven Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, introduced a series of sanctions against Qatar on June 5, including the ending of diplomatic relations and closure of all borders and airspace, after accusing the country of supporting terrorism and using news network Al-Jazeera as a propaganda tool.
Concerns over academic freedoms in Qatar have also surfaced in the past year, after a graduate student claimed her visa to study at SFS-Q was rejected due to her research of migrant issues that the Qatari government strictly controls.
The announcement, made by DeGioia in a campuswide email Tuesday morning, follows current SFS-Q Dean James Reardon Anderson's announcement that he would step down from the position of dean in July, one year earlier than scheduled. Reardon Anderson will serve as a faculty member at SFS-Q as Sun Yat-sen Professor of Chinese Studies following the conclusion of his term as dean.