Mabrouk, Habib Essid!

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Spring 2015

By Cynthia Scott

Alumnus Habib Essid (M.S. ’75) was named the prime minister of Tunisia in December following that country’s first-ever free elections. Essid, 65, earned a degree in agricultural economics at the U. Fluent in Arabic, English, French, Italian, and Spanish, his academic focus was on using and managing natural resources efficiently, particularly water. Minnesota featured him in “For the Love of Olives,” the cover story of the January-February 2008 issue, when he was head of the technical division of the International Olive Council, a Madrid-based organization that oversees the multimillion-dollar olive industry. That article described him as “equal parts diplomat, technical adviser, and educator.”

Tunisia is considered a model for peaceful transition to democracy. The Economist magazine named it its 2014 country of the year. “The idealism engendered by the Arab spring has mostly sunk in bloodshed and extremism, with a shining exception: Tunisia,” the editors wrote. “Its economy is struggling and its polity is fragile; but Tunisia’s pragmatism and moderation have nurtured hope in a wretched region and a troubled world.”


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