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Have You Ever Heard About the Iraqi Einstein?

The Arab scientist Abd al-Jabbar Abdullah was born in the castle of Saleh, the state of Al-Amara on November 14, 1913, and grew up in a rural city of the Sabean community (Mandaeans) in southern Iraq to become a distinguished physicist on a global scale.

He graduated from elementary school in Qalaat Saleh. This school was opened in 1917 by the British authorities in the Amara Brigade in its first year.

Then Abdullah joined the Central High School in Baghdad, which is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in Iraq. Its establishment was ordered by the famous Governor Mottahed Pasha (1869-1972), and it was inaugurated during the reign of the governor Abd al-Rahman Pasha (1879-1881).

Thanks to his excellent grades, he won a scholarship to the American University of Beirut (AUB). Abdullah received a bachelor’s degree with distinction in physics and mathematics from the AUB, which is one of the most famous universities in the Middle East.


He played a fundamental role in laying the foundations of higher education in modern Iraq. His research in the field of meteorology and his leadership of the process of establishing the University of Baghdad made Abdullah one of the most prominent Iraqi figures.

Before the Lebanese civil war (1975-1991), AUB was one of the best universities in the world. It was established in 1866 and includes among its alumni a number of pioneering personalities in the Arab world.

Among the colleagues of Dr. Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah and his friends, the number of students of this university who played an important role in developing science and education in their countries is quite high.

The doctor obtained a doctorate in science instead of a doctorate in the usual philosophy of science, and a doctorate in science is a rare certificate granted by a few universities as an expression of the achievements of the distinguished student.

He completed his studies at the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, where Abdullah won an award for his excellence in the field of atmospheric physics, which is a golden watch.

Shortly after declaring independence in 1932, the Kingdom of Iraq embarked on expanding and improving secondary education, and Dr. Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah played a role in this development by teaching mathematics and physics in a number of schools in Baghdad and Maysan.

Abdullah specialized in the field of meteorology sciences after he worked as assistant director of meteorology at Basra airport (1937-1941), which was established by the British in the 1920s and soon became an important center on the path.

He also worked as a teacher in the Primary Teachers’ House, the higher section, and a number of middle schools in Baghdad (1941-1944). The school was established in 1891 at the end of the Ottoman rule, and many of its graduates were employed.

He also worked as the first editor-in-chief of the Association’s magazine, this magazine represented Cultural Association, which was formed in 1943. The most prominent goal of the Association was to spread public culture, patriotism, democracy and scientific thought.

Soon, this association attracted a number of politicians and intellectuals who played an important role in the development of modern Iraq.

Abdullah also worked as a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1948-1949) after obtaining his doctorate, and during this period he accomplished two of his most important research papers on wave motion and the emergence of tornadoes. Despite his scientific achievements Abdullah soon returned to Iraq to participate in the country’s development.

He was appointed as the head of the physics department (1959-1958) in the High Teachers’ House, which was established in 1923 and supervised by the Arab nationalist thinker Sati ‘Al-Hosari.

During his vacation, Dr. Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah from the Higher House of Teachers (1952-1955) joined New York University, where he completed a number of his most important researches, the most important of which is in the dynamics of hurricanes, which is a two-part study.

After his return to Iraq in 1957, Abdullah became a member of the founding council of the University of Baghdad. The council was established with the aim of raising the scientific level of all colleges and institutes.

Reyes worked to edit the Iraqi Scientific Academy magazine (1957-1962) after the formation of the Scientific Complex in 1956, and the Scientific Complex magazine published research in the fields of mathematics, physics, geophysics, engineering, chemistry and biology, and to facilitate international interaction, all articles were written in English, French and German with an abstract in Arabic.

After the revolution of July 14, 1958, many changes took place in Iraq. Regarding the University of Baghdad, a law was issued in September of the same year whereby the temporary Constituent Assembly was dissolved and replaced by the permanent university council.

 Dr. Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah was appointed as secretary-general and acting president of the university. In 1959, new measures were taken to develop the university, and the doctor was appointed as its president.

 During the years of his presidency (1959-1963), the university witnessed a rapid growth in terms of the number and quality of study programs  and the university’s reputation also developed to become one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East.

After the February 8 coup in 1963, there came a wave of terror and severe repression on all democratic forces in Iraq. Dr. Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah was arrested on February 9, and he was questioned about his political affiliations.

 He was released from detention on October 8 of the same year and was transferred to retirement despite the lack of any official charges brought against him.

The situation of the University of Baghdad worsened after the coup due to the executions, imprisonment and dismissal of a number of professors and students, in addition to the loss of freedom that was a distinctive feature during the presidency of Dr. Abdul-Jabbar Abdullah.

He worked as a researcher at the National Research Center for Meteorology (1965-1966), thanks to international pressure, through which the doctor was able to leave the country to the US.

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