From his birthplace, Delingat, a poor village in the Nile Delta of Egypt, M. Riad El-Ghonemy began his long journey and career as a development economist by earning a coveted scholarship that enabled him to attain a PhD in the US. He then worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for 28 years where he helped poor peasants worldwide to achieve a better standard of living. After retiring from the UN, Dr. El-Ghonemy’s life was dedicated to academia and writing numerous books and articles based on his global experience.

He was an elected Honorary Lifetime Associate at the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. He passed away on February 4, 2019 in Cairo at the age of 96. He asked to spend his last days in Egypt.

He is survived by three children: Samira, Hamdi, and Anwar; as well as four grandchildren: Malak, Mazen, Dahlia, and Ameera Elgonemy


  • In 1972, was honored by the Faculty of Agricultural Economics at Cairo University with the Award of Distinguished Services.
  • In 1985, presented with the Silver Medal of Distinguished Services from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
  • In 2000, honored by the Council of Egypt’s Agricultural Economics Society for being a pioneer in land economics.
  • In 2001, was appointed by Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education as a Member of the Board of the Institute of Social Studies, Cairo.
  • In 2010, elected as a Lifetime Senior Associate at the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford.
  • In 2012, recognized with Egypt’s State Prize for Social Sciences, granted by Ein-Shams University.
  • In 2013, recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award from Ein-Shams University for his contributions to the field of Development Economics, and his support for graduate students.


“On the occasion of your retirement from the FAO after 28 years of devoted service, I wish to express my deep appreciation for your efficient performance and the outstanding contribution which you have made to the activities of the Organization.”
Edouard Saouma
Director-General, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Rome (7/10/1985)

“I have always remembered you with great appreciation, and have continued to admire your work and your dedication.”
Margaret J. Anstee
Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, New York (8/21/1985)

“On behalf of the University of Oxford, I am writing to thank you for your generous gift in order to support graduate field work undertaken by students within the Department of International Development.”
Alison Parker
Head of Social Sciences Department, University of Oxford (4/18/2011)