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Tarek Swelim, Ph.D.

Art Historian,

Author & Lecturer

Tarek Swelim Art Historian Egyptology Islamic Art

Egypt, The Middle East & North Africa

Tarek Swelim obtained his Ph.D in Islamic art and architecture from Harvard in 1994.


He leads and lectures to American tour groups from prestigious institutions, and has authored and co-authored a number of publications on Egypt’s Islamic and Roman architecture, including “Ibn Tulun, His Lost City and Great Mosque”, which was published in 2015.


He is a lecturer in Egyptology and Islamic art and architecture and has taught in various universities in the Middle East.

Professor Of Islamic Art & Architecture

Tarek Swelim is currently an Associate Professor of Islamic Art & Architecture in the College of Islamic Studies in the Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar.

He has previously held positions as a Visiting Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at Ain Shams University and the American University in Cairo.

He has offered a variety of courses covering a range of topics, including:

  • Surveys of Islamic architecture from Spain to Indonesia, covering the stylistic, contextual and historical development of architecture across the Islamic world.

  • Decorative arts and traditional industries, as well as their chronological and geographic context, with emphasis on museum collections.

  • The development of architecture towards modern and contemporary styles across the 19th, 20th and 21st century in Egypt and Belad El Sham.

  • Studies in manuscripts regarding Andalucian, Persian and Mogul gardens and palaces.

  • General Islamic history courses, with emphasis on Cairo’s monuments and Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.

Tarek Swelim Art Historian Egyptology Islamic Art

Consultant for Travel Programs, Lecturer & Guide

With 40 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, Tarek Swelim continues to develop tailored cultural study programs across 15 countries in the Middle East, North Africa & the Mediterranean Region.


As a lecturer and guide, he offers a scholarly approach to luxury travel for prestigious American universities, institutes, foundations and museums, including: The Stanford Alumni Association, the Yale Alumni Association, the Princeton Alumni Association, the Harvard Alumni Association, Washington and Lee University, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Crow Canyon Foundation, the National Trust Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Museum of Arts, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Tarek Swelim Art Historian Egyptology Islamic Art

Public Speaking & Seminars

Tarek Swelim has hosted and moderated a variety of lectures and events concerning the history and management of Islamic Art & Architecture, as well as the history of Egypt and the region.

These activities included lectures at Stanford University, Washington & Lee University and Louvain University in Belgium, as well as hosting themed series for the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), and the Educational Travel Conference (ETC) in Washington DC.

He was invited to participate in key events, including a round-table discussion with Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands to discuss solutions for problems facing the preservation of the Islamic cultural heritage in Egypt, as well as a keynote speech at the inauguration of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, while sharing the stage with renowned architect I. M. Pei to discuss the architectural inspirations behind the building.

Tarek Swelim Art Historian Egyptology Islamic Art

Restoration Work

Tarek Swelim was Assistant Director of the Bayt El Suhaymi Area Documentation, Restoration Conservation and Development Project in Cairo. Years of neglect, followed by the 1992 earthquake, had left the house and surrounding area in a devastating state. Today, the 17th century house is one of historic Cairo’s top tourist destinations.

Tarek Swelim supervised the documentation and analysis of the building and area, and was actively involved with the project team in researching, planning and implementing the infrastructural, architectural and decorative works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Tarek Swelim Art Historian Egyptology Islamic Art


Tarek Swelim has authored several publications, including his latest book, “Ibn Tulun, His Lost City and Great Mosque” (2015). In it, he shares his years of research and provides great insights into the oldest surviving mosque in Africa, as well as the persona behind it, through architectural analyses and reconstructions of its multiple phases. Furthermore, the book offers a simplified history of Islamic Egypt and its architecture.


He contributed to “The History and Religious Heritage of Old Cairo” (2013), in which he authored the section on Islamic Cairo. In it, he examines Egypt’s first mosque (the Mosque of Amr) together with the rise and fall of the lost city of Fustat.

He is currently working on his new book, which examines the life of the great Mamluk sultan, Al Muáyyad Shaykh- to be published in 2018.

In addition to books, Tarek Swelim has published various articles regarding Ancient Egyptian and Islamic architecture.

Tarek Swelim Art Historian Egyptology Islamic Art
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