Abdullah Gül, born in 1950, was elected as the eleventh president of the Republic of Turkey in August 2007. An observant Muslim, his election broke an eighty-four-year hold on power by the secular establishment and brought a new religious middle class from Turkey’s heartland into the center of the staunchly secular state.
President Gül received his doctorate in economics from Istanbul University in 1983. While working on his degree, he taught economics to prospective engineers for five years. From 1983 to 1991 he worked at the headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 1989, President Gül became associate professor in international economics at Istanbul University.
His political life began when he was elected to parliament from his birthplace, Kayserai, in 1991 and from that time until he became president, he served as a representative from Kayserai in the Turkish National Assembly (Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi, or TBMM) for five terms.
In 2002, President Gül became Turkey’s prime minister and formed the fifty-eighth government and from 2003 to 2007, served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the fifty-ninth government. During his tenure as foreign minister, the European Union reform process was accelerated and Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU began officially in October 2005.
President Gül holds honorary doctorate degrees from numerous universities and has received many other honors. In March of this year, President Gül won the Chatham House Prize, an annual award presented to the statesperson deemed by members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in 2009.
President Gül is married to Hayrünnisa Gül and is the father of three children.
Source: University Programs and Events Planning Resources, September 2010