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New Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab Image Credit: AP

Beirut: The emergence of Hassan Diab as the prime minister of Lebanon comes amid the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. Diab, a professor of computer engineering, served in the government formed in 2011 when Hezbollah and its allies overturned a former Cabinet headed by Hariri.

Diab, 60, has a PhD in computer engineering from the University of Bath in the UK and has taught the subject at the American University of Beirut since 1985.

In 2006, he was appointed AUB’s vice-president of Regional External Programs (REP), the university’s consulting and professional development arm. He served as education minister between 2011 and 2014, under then-Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

According to a 2018 biography, Diab is one of only a few non-party affiliated technocrats to have been a minister in Lebanon. He was also the first Lebanese education minister to have a professional background in higher education.

He is a self-styled advocate for educational reform in Lebanon, authoring books and several papers on the subject.

“I am certain that the solution to most of our economic, unemployment, social, financial, and even political challenges, lies in education in all its forms,” he writes on his website.

After leaving office, he returned to his teaching and administrative roles at AUB. Elie Ferzli, the Greek Orthodox Christian deputy speaker of parliament and Hezbollah ally, said Diab’s nomination took “into account some of the basic prerequisites wanted by the people” and called him a “person of integrity”.