Lancaster University

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New Palestinian Prime Minister studied at Lancaster

06/05/2013 00:00:00
​A former Lancaster University PhD student, appointed the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority this week, is described as ‘gracious’ and with ‘hidden strengths’ by lecturers and fellow students.

Professor Rami Hamdallah, 54, the president of An-Najah National University in the Palestine West Bank city of Nablus since 1998, was appointed to his new role on Sunday 2 June by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, and has been asked to form a new cabinet.

Professor Hamdallah has a PhD in English-Linguistics Research from Lancaster University. He studied here in the 1980s.
His direct supervisor was Dr Gerry Knowles (now retired) and his secondary supervision was Emeritus Professor of English Linguistics Professor Geoffrey Leech.
Professor Leech described Professor Hamdallah as ‘an unassuming person’. 

He said: “We always said “hullo” to one another and had a short chat now and then. He was quiet and courteous, but he gave me the feeling of hidden strength.”

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Professor Tony McEnery met Prof Hamdallah only recently.

“I had the very real pleasure of meeting him recently in Nablus - around 25 years after we last met!” said Professor McEnery, who was a student in the department at the same time.

“He was typically kind and gracious, and greeted me like a long lost brother - that friendliness and humanity is typical of Rami.”

Professor Hamdallah studied at Lancaster from November 1985 to February 1988 when he was awarded his PhD. His place was sponsored by the British Council and Lancaster University. It is understood his research was in Arabic Phonetics.

During his time here he was a member of Furness College.

The new prime minister will take over from Salam Fayyad, the economist, who announced his decision to step down in April.
Professor Hamdallah is a political independent, but perceived by Palestinians as being close to the West Bank’s ruling Fatah movement.

He has never served in government, but he heads the Central Elections Commission in Palestine and is a member of the Palestinian Constitution Committee.