Bilal Orfali

AGYA Alumni Jointly building bridges into the future

 Bilal Orfali
  • Arabic & Islamic Studies

Areas of Expertise:
Pre-modern Arabic literature; Arabic prose and poetry; Quranic studies; Islamic mysticism; Tales and narratives

2013 - 2018


American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Sheikh Zayed Chair for Arabic and Islamic Studies
Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages
American University of Beirut
P.O. Box 11-0236
Riad El Solh
Beirut 1107 2020

+961 1350 000 3860
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About me

AGYA has transformed me from a scholar of Arabic Studies to an interdisciplinary scholar and citizen of the world.

The story of AGYA is an integral part of my own story. AGYA is all about commitment to cooperation, collaboration, research, understanding, and the creation of a better world. Within this broad framework, each AGYA member weaves his or her own story. I come from the field of Arabic Studies, but over the course of my tenure in AGYA, I have been in direct dialogue and active collaboration with architects, musicians, actors, educators, medical doctors, social scientists, and scholars in natural and quantitative sciences. I have carried out numerous research projects through AGYA working groups or tandem collaborations, in areas I knew nothing about before joining AGYA.

Above all, AGYA has opened a door for me to satisfy my curiosity: In two workshop sessions, I trained my voice and unleashed my acting skills. In one project, I reconstructed and materialized an Abbasid meal and published a book on food as a cultural signifier. In another, I traced the discipline of Arabic studies in Italy, Germany, Russia, and the Arab World. I learned lessons of transformation and reconciliation during my visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Belgium. I studied the dynamics of Arab and German cultural impact on Zanzibar and explored the links between poetry, calligraphy, and architecture in the pre-modern cultural heritage of Oman. I am still tracing the peregrination of the biography of Gautama Buddha in time, space and imagination, a project that has carried me like a Sindbad to many countries and cultures. 

My Commitment to AGYA
Former Member of the AGYA Steering Committee 2015-2016
Former Member in Charge of the Working Group 'Common Heritage and Common Challenges'
Member of the Task Force 'AGYA Constitution' 2014
My advise to future AGYA members:

AGYA membership is a special opportunity to delve into new areas of research, explore related disciplines, and build bridges between institutions and cultures. Take this opportunity and enjoy it to the fullest.

On a personal note

Best thinker/scientist from my country:
Kamal Salibi