On Thursday 15 June, Egypt lost Ibrahim Abul-Eish, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development and SEKEM Group for Bio-agriculture. Dr Abul-Eish died at age 80. The funeral took place the following day at SEKEM farm in Belbeis, Sharqiya, northeast Cairo; and condolences were received on Sunday 18 June at Omar Makram mosque Downtown Cairo.
Mr Abul-Eish began undergraduate studies in chemistry and medicine at the age of 19 in Austria. In 1969 he earned a PhD in Pharmacology, after which he worked in pharmaceutical research. During this time he won patents for a number of new medicines, especially for osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.
In 1977 Dr Abul-Eish returned to Egypt and founded the comprehensive development initiative SEKEM, an organisation which focuses on biodynamic farming methods in Egypt. SEKEM farm is located in the Eastern Desert district of Belbeis, 60km north-east Cairo, on an area of 140 feddans. The aim of the project was to build a new type of community, establishing a farm where no industrial fertiliser or pesticide is used.
The farm provides health services for the workers, as well as schools based on modern education systems for their children. The aim is to promote human development by investing in people.
SEKEM exported the first shipment of medicinal herbs to the US in 1981. By 2004, SEKEM was managing more than 800 farms that produce herbs, vegetables, fruits and bio-cotton in Egypt and Sudan. SEKEM’s monumental success in bio-agriculture prompted Dr Abul-Eish to establish a factory under the name of ATOS for natural pharmaceutical products.
In 2003, Ibrahim Abul-Eish and SEKEM received the Right Livelihood Award for integrating commercial success with the promotion of social and cultural development of the community. He was selected as an “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur” by the Schwab Foundation in 2004. In 2006 he was appointed counselor at the World Future Council. In 2012, Dr Abul-Eish was appointed an Oslo Business for Peace Honouree, receiving his award at Oslo City Hall, from The Business for Peace Foundation. In 2013 he received the Global Thinkers Forum 2013 Award for Excellence in Positive Change.
He wrote a book to explain the experience of SEKEM and how it participated in changing the face of Egypt.
Dr Abul-Eish leaves behind a son and daughter; his son Helmy Abul-Eish handles the SEKEM project.
18 June 2017