Riad Ismat

Mohammad Riad Hussain Ismat (Arabic: رياض عصمت‎) (11 July 1947 – 13 May 2020)[1] was a Syrian writer, critic and theatre director. He served as Minister of Culture of Syria from 3 October 2010 to 23 June 2012.

Riad Ismat
رياض عصمت
Riad Ismat.jpg
Riad Ismat in 2009
Minister of Culture
In office
October 3rd, 2010 – June 23rd, 2012
PresidentBashar al-Assad
Prime MinisterMuhammad Naji al-Otari
Adel Safar
Preceded byRiyad Naasan Agha
Succeeded byLubanah Mshaweh
Personal details
Born(1947-07-11)11 July 1947
Damascus, Syria
Died13 May 2020(2020-05-13) (aged 72)
Chicago, United States
Spouse(s)Azzah Konbaz
ResidenceUnited States of America
Alma materDamascus University,
University College, Cardiff
ProfessionDramatist, critic, director, diplomat

Early life, education and careerEdit

Ismat studied English literature at the Damascus University and graduated in 1968.[1] In 2000, he became Rector of the Academy of Dramatic Arts,[2][3] 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,[4] serving in that post until 23 June 2012. From 2013 to 2014 he served as Buffett Center Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University.[2]


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.[2] 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; The Banana Republic and In Search of Zenobia.[5] Ismat also directed his own television trilogy for Syrian TV, "The Artist & Love", 1985.


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


Ismat died on 13 May 2020 in Chicago due to COVID-19.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "وفاة وزير الثقافة السوري الأسبق رياض عصمت بفيروس "كورونا"". enabbaladi.net (in Arabic). 14 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "An Interview with Riad Ismat on Art, Syria, & the Diaspora". Muftah.org. 7 February 2014.
  3. ^ North Central College (10 February 2015). "Scholar-in-residence Riad Ismat discusses the arts and statesmanship".
  4. ^ "Syria's Assad replaces two ministers". France 24. 3 October 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Former Culture Minister Riad Ismat Dies of Coronavirus in Us". The Syrian Observer. 15 May 2020.

External linksEdit