On October 31, Libya gained a new interim president that has proven to be a surprise for those watching the elections. Dr. Abel Rahim al-Keeb, a 61-year old professional with a background in education, electronics and politics was named as interim prime minister by the National Transitional Council.
Born to parents living in Sabratha, al-Keeb left Libya in 1976 while maintaining ties with the country’s opposition, even providing financial support whenever possible. While abroad, al-Keeb earned a PhD, entering the world of education at the University of Alabama in the United States in 1985. In addition to joining the university as an assistant professor of electrical engineering, al-Keeb also began to produce papers for a number of academic and electrical engineering publications. By the time he was elevated to the status of professor, al-Keeb had also served as a guest lecturer at a number of colleges and universities in the United States, as well as Libya, the UAE and other nations. The opportunity to work with the Division of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering at the American University of Sharjah in the UAE led to al-Keeb leaving his tenured position with the University of Alabama in 1999, remaining with the division through 2001. Since then, he has also worked with the Petroleum Institute in the UAE, relinquishing that position to become the representative for Tripoli in the National Transitional Council in Libya during the summer of 2011.
Al-Keeb’s goals for Libya were expressed in statements made after his election by the National Transitional Council. Citing the need to pull the nation together, including working with the militias that developed in many of the cities and towns around the country over time, “This transition period has its own challenges. One thing we will be doing is working very closely with the NTC and listening to the Libyan people,” al-Keeb stated in a press interview in October. “We salute and remember the revolutionaries who we will never forget. We will not forget their families. I say to them that the NTC did not and will not forget them and also the coming government will do the same.”
That al-Keeb moved into the position of interim prime minister, with a plan, was evident from a statement made by NTC member, Abdul Majid Saif Al-Nasr, who told news agency Al Jazeera that “El-Keeb presented his plan for the next eight months to the NTC, which includes working to restore order and stability, rebuilding cities destroyed by Qaddafi, rehabilitating the rebels and starting to collect their weapons”.
Dr. Abdalla Alnajjar, President of the Arab Science and Technology Foundation, issued a statement shortly after the announcement of the NTC, expressing the sentiments of many supporters in Libya and the Middle East. “On this auspicious occasion, that coincides closely with Eid al-Adha, Dr. Abdalla Alnajjar, President of the Arab Science and Technology Foundation presents his congratulations to his Excellency Dr. Abdel Rahim Al Keeb, Libyan Prime Minister, wishing to him success in his national duty and to put sustainable development plan for new Libya Republic.”