Nine people from the Middle East who won a Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize is a set of international awards granted annually. First awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace, it later added an associated prize for Economics in 1969.

Middle Eastern Nobel Laureates received Nobel Prizes in three of six award categories: Peace, Chemistry and Literature.

1. Peter Medawar – The father of Transplantation


The first Arab Laureate from the Arab world and diaspora alike, Medawar was the first half-Lebanese to win a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1960. Medawar was born in Brazil to a Lebanese father, and a British mother.

2. Anwar El Sadat


El Sadat, the third president of Egypt, was the first Arab to win a Nobel Prize in Peace in 1978.

3. Naguib Mahfouz


Mahfouz is a renowned Egyptian novelist. In 1988, Mahfouz became the first Arab to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.

4. Elias James Corey


Born to Lebanese immigrants in Methuen, Massachusetts, Corey became the first American of Lebanese descent to become a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, in 1990.

5. Yasser Arafat


The late Palestinian leader became the first Palestinian to become a Nobel Laureate. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

6. ِAhmed Zewail – Father of femtochemistry


Zewail became the first Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field, as he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his work on femtochemistry .

7. Mohamed ElBaradei


An Egyptian law scholar and diplomat who became the second Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize in Peace, when he and the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA) were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

El Baradei was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009.

8. Tawakkul Karman


The Yemeni journalist, politician, and human rights activist became the first Arab Muslim Woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

9. Aziz Sancar


The Turkish-American biochemist and molecular biologist became the first Turk to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In 2015, Aziz Sancar was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul L. Modrich for their studies on DNA repair.


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