Raphael Lefevre wins Bill Gates Sr. Prize

Outstanding work on Middle Eastern politics recognised.

I feel incredibly humbled to receive this award. It reinforces my commitment to spread awareness about the issues facing the Middle East today. It also gives me a chance to particularly highlight the plight of the Syrian refugees.

Raphael Lefevre

Raphael Lefevre has been awarded the third Bill Gates Sr. Prize in recognition of his outstanding work on Middle Eastern politics.

The Bill Gates Sr. Prize was established by the Gates Cambridge Trustees in June 2012 in recognition of Bill Gates Sr.’s role in establishing the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, over a decade of service as a Trustee, and his engagement with, and inspiration to, many generations of Gates Cambridge Scholars.

The Prize allows Scholars to recognise the impact and contribution to the Scholar community of one of their peers (who may be pursuing any subject and be from any part of the world), with particular reference to the scholarship’s selection criteria.

Scholars were asked to nominate a fellow Scholar for the £250 Prize by completing a 500-word statement about why that Scholar would be a suitable recipient. Selection was on the basis of how well the nominated candidates met the selection criteria while in residence in Cambridge.

Raphael Lefevre [2012] is doing a PhD in Politics and International Studies and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Lebanon. He was nominated on the basis of his visiting scholarship at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, his book, Ashes of Hama, his ongoing field work in Beirut and his role as a commentator on Middle Eastern politics.

His book was published in April 2013 and has been described by a leading academic as "without question the best available comprehensive English language work on Syrian Islamist politics". Raphael has become a sought after commentator on events in the region and has spoken at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, at the International Institute for Peace in Vienna and at Chatham House and the House of Commons in London. He has also been quoted, covered or published by the Economist, Sada, the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, France 24, the Guardian, the Washington Post, and the Journal of North African Studies among many other publications.

Gates Cambridge Provost Professor Barry Everitt, who was part of the selection committee along with Trustees Professor Susan Smith and Andrew Robertson, said: "It was again an almost impossible task to select one Scholar from among the outstanding nominations we received for the Bill Gates Sr. Prize. But in recognition of his many achievements - including developing a highly-regarded voice in Middle Eastern politics, particularly at such an early stage in his career - we are delighted to award the Bill Gates Sr. Prize for 2015 to Raphael Lefevre."

Raphael said: "I feel incredibly humbled to receive this award. It reinforces my commitment to spread awareness about the issues facing the Middle East today. It also gives me a chance to particularly highlight the plight of the Syrian refugees. My donation of the prize money to a local charity which runs a peacebuilding centre and a school for Syrian kids at the Lebanese-Syrian border may be modest, but it will hopefully participate in raising awareness about the tragedy of the Syria crisis within and outside the Gates Cambridge community."

The Prize was presented on behalf of Bill Gates Sr. by Dr Mimi Gates, Bill Sr.’s wife and a Gates Cambridge Trustee, at the annual Gates Cambridge Graduation Dinner on Friday.