Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (L) with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a senior academic and diplomat nominated by Turkey’s two biggest opposition parties as a joint candidate in the presidential election, became a more visible figure for the public after his election as head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2005.
Along with his diplomatic career, İhsanoğlu, who was born in Cairo in 1943, also focused on studying the history institutions of learning in Islam, as well as scientific and cultural exchanges between Islam and the West.
Both during his academic and diplomatic career, İhsanoğlu was actively involved in bilateral and multilateral efforts for rapprochement between cultures, particularly between the Muslim world and the West.
İhsanoğlu’s close involvement with Turkish national diplomacy dates back to his tenure at the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the first subsidiary body of the OIC, the headquarters of which are based in Istanbul.
Having served as the founding director-general of the IRCICA for 24 years from 1980, in 2004 İhsanoğlu became the first ever secretary general of the OIC to be elected by vote. During his tenure, the name of the OIC was changed from the Organization of Islamic Conference to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in June 2011.
İhsanoğlu received his bachelor’s degree in 1966 and his master’s degree in chemistry in 1970 at Ain Shams University, Cairo.
After completing his Ph.D. studies at Ankara
University, Turkey in 1974, he conducted his post-doctoral research from 1975 to 1977 as a research fellow at University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom. In addition to Turkish, he is fluent in English and Arabic and has a working knowledge of French
and Persian. He is married and a father of three young men.