Nemir Kirdar (1936-2020)

The College has received the sad news that Nemir Kirdar, an Honorary Fellow of the College, passed away in France on Monday 8 June following a long illness.

Professor Roger Goodman, Warden, writes:

A native of Iraq, Nemir left his homeland following the violent revolution that overthrew the Hashemite monarchy in 1958 and became a pioneer of private equity financing.  He began his banking career in New York in 1969, covering South East Asia and Japan for Allied Bank International, before moving to Chase Manhattan as Vice President in 1974.  In 1982 he founded Investcorp, a global investment group based in Bahrain, London and New York, and served as Executive Chairman and CEO until his retirement in 2017.

Nemir was introduced to St Antony’s by his daughter Serra, who came to the College to read for the MSc and DPhil in education, which she completed in 2004.  Following Serra’s graduation, he offered his generous support to commission the visionary architect Zaha Hadid to design a new building for the College’s Middle East Centre.  Through his generous personal support and a major benefaction that he secured from Investcorp, he single-handedly gifted St Antony’s its prize-winning landmark, the Investcorp Building, which was opened to critical acclaim in 2015.

As well as his business career, Nemir was the author of three books: Saving Iraq (2009) which reviews Iraq’s long history and maps a course for its post-war reconstruction; an autobiography, In Pursuit of Fulfilment (2012); and Need, Respect, Trust (2013), which tells the story of Investcorp.

Nemir was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 2009. In 2015, he became the founding chairman of the Middle East Centre Advisory Board. In 2017, the Middle East Centre marked its profound gratitude for his support by renaming its original building at 68 Woodstock Road, the Nemir Kirdar Building.  

Between the Investcorp Building and the Kirdar Building, Nemir Kirdar has left an enduring mark not only on St Antony’s College but also the University of Oxford through the Middle East Centre. Future college histories will record him as one of our greatest and most generous benefactors.

In the current climate, the funeral arrangements will need to be private but the College and the Middle East Centre will hold a memorial event to commemorate Nemir’s many achievements as soon as we can.

External Links: 

Obituary in The National newspaper

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