A Tribute to Tarek Kamel
The ICANN community mourns the loss of Dr. Tarek Kamel, an Internet pioneer known for his contributions to global Internet governance.
Tarek was well-respected across the Internet ecosystem and beloved among his colleagues within the ICANN org and community. As ICANN's Senior Advisor to the President and Senior Vice President of Government and Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) Engagement, he spearheaded efforts to build stronger relationships between ICANN org and governments, ministries, and IGOs on Internet governance issues. Tarek was passionate about the multistakeholder approach to building one strong, stable, and interoperable Internet for all people across the globe.
Prior to joining ICANN senior management in 2012, Tarek was a central figure in the Egyptian information technology community. He helped establish Egypt's first connection to the Internet and shaped the introduction of commercial Internet services in Egypt. Tarek joined the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology when it was formed in 1999, eventually rising to become Minister of Communication and Information Technology, a post he held from July 2004 to February 2011. In addition, he also served on many boards during his career, including the National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt, Telecom Egypt, and Egypt's Private Public Technology Development Fund that supports start-ups and incubators.
Tarek was well-known in the broader Internet community. He founded the Internet Society (ISOC) chapter in Egypt and served as a global ISOC board member. He hosted several regional and international ICANN, Internet Governance Forum, and International Telecommunication Union events in Egypt. He believed strongly in Internet access for all and led many national initiatives to increase Internet and broadband penetration in Egypt and Africa. He was one of the founders and a board member of AFRINIC and held senior ministerial roles with the League of Arab States and African Union.
Born in Cairo, Dr. Kamel had undergraduate and graduate degrees in Electrical Engineering from Cairo University and a PhD in Computer Networks from the Technical University of Munich. He was married to Iman El Azab, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Cairo University, and they have two children, Omar and Heba. Tarek had been battling cancer for several years. The ICANN community, alongside his friends and family, deeply mourns his loss.
Sharing Your Memories of Tarek
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"Very sad and heartbreaking ! Our continent has lost a brilliant and visionary person like Tarek :-( May God pours His divine restoration and consolation into Tarek's family and loved ones during this hard time. RIP Tarek!"
–Arthur Carindal N. Head of Stakeholder Engagement, AFRINIC Ltd.
"Tarek was a friend and colleague whose career had at its epicenter the Internet. He was instrumental in bringing access to Egypt and subsequently to other parts of the world, especially Africa. He was the founder of the Internet Society in Egypt and served ICANN, ISOC, IGF as well as serving as Minister of Communications and Information Technology in the Egyptian government. He was always a thoughtful consultant on technical and policy matters, truly constructive in his thinking and always a gentleman. My respect for him grew for every year of our 25+ year acquaintance. I think now of his family who will surely miss him most and his immediate colleagues. But, more generally, our Internet community has lost a kindred spirit so devoted to the idea of a global Internet to hold and use in common. The years we had the benefit of his presence will not be erased by his departure from our midst. They will remain in memory and in deed as his works will attest. I am so very grateful to have had the benefit of his friendship and advice. As another Internaut has already suggested, if heaven does not have broadband yet, Tarek will make it so."
"R.I.P. Dr. Tarek Kamel, ex Egyptian ICT Minister…I have been honored and privileged to work under your leadership…A true leader, mentor, decent, devoted and dedicated Egyptian…A loving person to his country and a main pillar in establishing the Egyptian ICT sector…You will never be forgotten and definitely you will be missed…"
"It is a sad day today as all in the Internet community mourn the loss of Dr. Tarek Kamel, a true statesman of the Internet. He was an early advocate in Egypt, the Middle East, and indeed the world of the transformational power of the Internet and ICTs. A kind, gentle, and humble man, Dr. Kamal bridged the worlds of technology and policy and worked to build mutual respect and understanding between them. He was a leader among peers and a true friend and colleague of the Internet community. He leaves a legacy that will not be forgotten. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun."
"Dr. Tarek (May God have mercy upon him) was a true human being. One of great Egyptian pioneers in the field of ICT. True leader, developer and transformer. His legacy and good deeds will remain inspiring and enlightening others. I did not work with him but I was lucky to know him in person and discovered a living model for perseverance and endurance, which will help his esteemed family and beloved ones to remain steadfast and follow his remarkable path. انا لله وانا اليه راجعون
–Mohamed A. Gawad Allam
"Many vivid memories spring forth. In 2008 during the ICANN meeting in Egypt, Tarek welcomed us warmly, including a reception in his office in smart city where he offered an insighful comment on the U.S. election of Barak Obama the night before. In 2011, after the troubles in Egypt, he was eager to join ICANN. I arranged for him to meet Fadi Chehadé, the incoming ICANN CEO, and Akram Atallah. The three bonded quickly. I was fortunate to work closely with Tarek in preparation for some international meetings. His command of details of both substance and the English language were precise and astute. His intellect was packaged in an always warm and humble demeanor. He mentored many in both Egypt and ICANN, and never let his strenuous medical battles deter him. He is a true hero and good friend. We will both miss and remember him."
–Stephen D Crocker
"Like many whose lives intersected with this very special gentleman, I am deeply saddened by the news that his battle was lost to that devistating disease. Of course again like so many of you reading these beautiful words of memorial from Göran in this blog, I have so many fond and warm memories of someone I was honored to call colleage and friend. He will be sorely missed, but his influence will long continue… My family's heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies goes out to his family as well as his close colleagues, and friends at this time of mourning and reflection on a life well lived, all be it for far to short a time…"
"I will remember his humility and his contribution to the development of Internet in Africa. God knows what we don't know."
"Dear colleagues and friends, It is very, very difficult to write these words. The loss of a young person is always a tragedy. The untimely loss of a friend is even worse, and is always a very difficult time. The loss of a fellow Internet pioneer is like losing a brother. Tarek was a great friend of the Internet Society – Bulgaria. I remember him giving an interview for the Bulgarian public television in Yokohama during the INET 2000 meeting (I hope to be able to find this interview in the coming weeks) – praising our chapter for the elimination of all licenses and registration regimes in the country. In 2002 he sent his chapter condolences to ISOC Bulgaria, when we lost (also very untimely!) our co-founder and board member Mitko Kirov. I remember him as the ISOC – Egypt leader, and then as an advisor to the minister of ICT, and then as a minister. I also had the luck to work with him at ICANN, when he became responsible for the government engagement, and I witnessed first hand his great skills and talent to navigate the organization in the challenging times of international Internet-related negotiations. Tarek was the same person, no matter what he worked - kind, humble, thoughtful, always ready to listen, and give advice, always ready to suggest a new solution to any problem. I wish we all are as humble, as he was. I remember a story few years ago, when I introduced him to a friend of mine at the World Bank. My friend told Tarek, "Ah, I remember you, when you built the Cyber city in Egypt…", and Tarek interrupted him kindly, "No, no… I didn't build it. My boss built I, and I just had to go and cut the ribbon, as I was by that time the minister. But it was the previous minister, my boss, who by that time was already prime minister, who actually built it." He always gave credit, where credit was due, and never took credit for someone else's work. I wish we all are so precise as he was… Anywhere I'd go – at the UN or other UN agencies, when I would see someone from Egypt, they will always mention Tarek in the most positive ways. His former staffers always talked of him with great respect, and would address him kindly as "Doctor Tarek". Earlier this year in Geneva I saw a former colleague of his, and I encouraged her to go and see him in the hospital. She just sent me a note thanking me for encouraging her to reach out, as she had one more opportunity to spend time with him. We all liked spending time with him, and he was always happy to see people around him, even when he was going through tough times… Especially during tough times. He was in some ways like a real doctor – always ready to listen to someone's issue, always ready to suggest a "treatment" of a problem. I wish we all listen more, and try to help, like he did. And in all different ways, and always, he was a good Person, with a capital "p". I hope we all strive to be as good as he was. I know it's difficult, but that's one of the (many) lessons I learned from him – that we should be good, when we are confronting challenging times, because it's easy to be good, when things are going well, but it's really good to behave well, when times are tough. Tarek, you're already missed. Rest In Peace, my friend."
"I have known Tarek within the region (from a distance) but I got to meet him personally when I started getting involved within the ICANN community, he took me like a son and gave me fatherly support. During one of my interactions with him he said "… Thank you for your contributions we need more of you, let me know if there is anything you need, including training that will help improve your participation here…" I was highly motivated by those words and whenever I write him, he responded and always gave me good audience whenever we meet. It's painful to read about his exit but I am sure his legacy will continue to live on. May his grace be with his family during this trying time."
"May his soul R.I.P. I Knew Tarek in 2008, he was act as minister of CIT in egypt and I as an EGYPTIAN CITIZEN was about to Deploy one of the first 4G Broadband network, he was sharp to provide support to my project even he went through an indirect tension with former minister of interior and former egyptian prisoner, and Tarek was very supportive to me as a friend like a brother and spend his entire time for months to succeed my project, literally this man adore his country and it's future, he worked in a corrupted regime but he was so clean and transparent and his genetics created to help others, I really missed you Dr. Tarek and pray for your soul to have peace, heaven will honor to having your soul and I hop that God mercy gift you paradise , and hope that your inspire good people in egypt if they're still exists to change the hate philosophy for those whom still have humanity inside their souls to looking for better future of your loved country."
"It is sad indeed to lose someone like Tarek. Over the years we worked together in different functions and became good friends. We first met15 years ago, shortly before he was promoted to ICT Minister of Egypt. During the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) he played a crucial role in defending the multistakeholder model in the African and Arab regions. When the IGF got started he showed an early interest in hosting the annual meeting and made a bid to host the 2009 event. We worked closely together to prepare the meeting in Sharm-El-Sheikh and I got to know him professionally as a true statesman of the Internet. We connected again at ICANN and the IGF Support Association (IGFSA). Tarek was one of the founding members of IGFSA and elected to its Executive Committee at the IGF in Istanbul in 2014. The IGFSA Executive Committee valued his friendship, his wisdom and counsel and not least his great sense of humour. In latter years, after he moved to Geneva, I also saw him as a dedicated husband and father. Tarek will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his wife and two children."
"Ina lilaahi wa inaaileyhi raajioun! To God we belong to God we return! I have been working with Tarek since 1995 when the UN Economic Commission for Africa established the working group on the African Information Society Initiative (AISI), which was chaired by Egypt. Moreover, when Tarek was appointed minister we used to work closely on several African ministerial programs on ICT. Our cooperation continued when he joined ICANN and later IGFSA where we were both members of the Executive Committee. Brother Tarek was a leader, a great man with good heart and an always welcoming smile! He will be remembered forever by the African ICT4D community in general and the Internet Governance Stakeholders in particular. To his family and friends, to the ICT4D and the Internet Governance community, we present our deepest condolences. May Allah the mighty grant him peace in heaven!"
"Tarek was a gentle giant who was loved and respected by everyone who knew him. Throughout his professional life, he was a strong advocate of the open Internet. He established Egypt's first connection to the Internet, foundedthe Egyptian chapter of the Internet Society and served on the Internet Society Board of Trustees. In 2005, he was named "Top Minister in Africa with an ICT Portfolio", and for the past seven years he was ICANN's Senior Vice President, responsible for our engagements with governments and IGOs, globally. Tarek was the friend you relied upon for guidance and earnest advice. Sadly, he left us too early. We will miss his calmness, wisdom and clear thinking in the most complicated of situations, and above we will miss his great sense of humour. We were truly fortunate to have had him as a member of our community for almost two decades. A great man. A great loss."