Najah al-Attar

Najah Al-Attar (Arabic: نجاح العطار; born 10 January 1933) is the Vice President of Syria, in office since 2006. She is the first Arab woman to have held the post.[1] Previously she was Minister of Culture from 1976 to 2000.

Najah al-Attar
نجاح العطار
Vice President of Syria
Assumed office
23 March 2006
Serving with Farouk al-Sharaa
PresidentBashar al-Assad
Minister of Culture
In office
1 December 1976  19 January 2000
PresidentHafez Assad
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMaha Qanout
Personal details
Born (1933-01-10) 10 January 1933
Damascus, Syria
Political partySyrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Other political
National Progressive Front
RelationsIssam al-Attar (brother)
ProfessionLinguist, writer

Early life and education

Attar was born on 10 January 1933 and raised in Damascus as a member of a Sunni Muslim family.[2][3][4] Her father was among the first Arab nationalist leaders who took part in the 1925-1927 Syrian revolt against the French Mandate of Syria. She studied at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1954, and obtained a PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom in 1958.[5] She also received a number of certificates then in international relations and in literary and art criticism.


Attar is an accomplished translator and started teaching in high schools within Damascus after her return from Scotland, then worked in the Department of Translation of the Syrian Ministry of Culture. In 1976, she was appointed as Minister of Culture,[5] serving in that post until 2000. On 23 March 2006, she was appointed as Vice President.[2]

Political alignment

Although Attar is Vice President and served as a long-term minister in Syria, a state largely controlled by the secular Ba'ath Party, her brother, Issam al-Attar, is the leader of the Damascus faction of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and has lived in exile in Aachen, West Germany since the 1970s, which saw a government persecution of various Islamist political movements.


  1. "Syria's First Female Vice President Hailed as Progress for Women". Arab News. 24 March 2006. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  2. Moubayed, Sami (30 March – 5 April 2006). "Vice-President Najah al-Attar". Al Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  3. "Assad inner circle takes hard line in Syria conflict", The Daily Star, 26 December 2012.
  4. Syria Country Studies
  5. "The First Woman Minister in the Syrian Government" (PDF). Al Raida (2). September 1997. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
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