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Riad Ismat

Syrian diplomat
The basics
Occupation Writer Diplomat
Country Syria
Date of birth Damascus, Damascus Governorate, Syria
Education Cardiff University
Authority IMDB id ISNI id VIAF id
The details

Mohammad Riad Hussain Ismat 'Riad' Ismat (Arabic: رياض عصمت‎) (born 11 July 1947) is a Syrian writer, critic and theatre director. He served as Minister of Culture of Syria from 3 October 2010 to 23 June 2012.

Early life, education and career

In 2000 he became Rector of the Academy of Dramatic Arts, after years of teaching. In 2003, Ismat became Director General of Syrian State Radio and Television, then held the post of Syrian Vice-Minister of Culture. In 2005, he was appointed Ambassador to Pakistan and in 2010, Syrian Ambassador to Qatar. In October 2010, Ismat was appointed as Minister of Culture, serving in that post until 23 June 2012. From 2013 to 2014 he served as Buffett Center Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University.


Ismat has directed more than 15 theatrical productions, including interpretations of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Frank Wedekind, as well as producing his own personal vision of The Arabian Nights. He founded the first mime troupe in Damascus and taught mime, acting & directing at the Syrian Academy of Dramatic Arts. There he used to teach the Stanislavsky-based method of acting. His breakthrough as a playwright came with The Game of Love & Revolution; among his best known dramatic works are: Was Dinner Good, dear Sister, Mourning Becomes Antigone, Sinbad, Shahryar's Nights, Abla & Antar, Mata Hari and In Search of Zenobia. Ismat also directed his own television trilogy for Syrian TV, "The Artist & Love", 1985.


Ismat has published 35 books, including short stories and several books on Arab and World drama. He has also written a book on the Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz and a book on cinema. As a television script writer, he has written the scripts for seven television serials.

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