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Ø I am so sorry to inform you that Mrs. Laila Dowidar has passed away on Monday in her home in the US. Laila was a very kind, loving and giving person. She worked at the BA in different capacities and retired as the Head of Civil Society and Outreach Unit.

        We mourn her passing and pray for her. May God  have mercy on such a beautiful soul.


   She will be sorely missed.


  Dr. Sohair F. Wastawy

  Chief Librarian
  Bibliotheca Alexandrina



Ø  It is with profound sorrow and sadness that we mourn the loss of our dear friend and colleague Laila Dowidar. Laila was a gentle, kind and loving person who was deeply committed and dedicated to the service of the BA, even long after her retirement. She will be missed and remembered by everyone at the BA, and her generous spirit will always hover within the place that she loved so much and in which she spent so many productive years.


To her family and friends I would like to offer my deepest sympathies and condolences, and to Laila I offer a prayer of peace and that  she may yet find another kind of happiness in a by far better world.




Mona El Nashar

Deputy Director

Public Relations & International Contacts


Bibliotheca Alexandrina



 Ø  A most eloquent, appropriate and moving tribute 

     to a beloved colleague.   

Mona El Nashar has spoken from the heart, and she successfully put into words what is in all our hearts.

My deepest condolences, however trite and inadequately expressed, go with her message.


Ismail Serageldin
Library of Alexandria



Ø  To the International Friends,

        Laila Dowidar was, in a very special way, the backbone of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina!  I remember the first time meeting her, when the Scandinavian friends, 3 from Norway and 2 from Sweden, had their first audience with Dr. Mohsen Zahran in his office. In a corner Mme Dowidar was keeping an eye on the meting table, registering every word and every change in body language. Her face expressionless, somebody to consider with profound respect. A little later, we could detect a small smile, and in that moment we realized that she indeed still could understand the Scandinavian words, being of Norwegian descent.

        She was the stable bridge between us friends and the management, first Dr. Zahran and later Dr. Serageldin. It was always possible to reach her, and she had the rare ability to listen, to absorb every word and, if not very precisely expressed, she still could interpret your inner meaning, and convey your words in a diplomatic way!

        She combined the calm coolness of the Scandinavian psyche with a profound understanding of the Arab culture and everyday activities, she could, with a small amused smile explain why sometimes there was no idea at all to hurry, the sense of time is different from further north.

         She became a wonderful friend and her wisdom and generous, prestigeless, character will be kept in loving memory by all the international friends! Hopefully her family in Alexandria and Seattle are fully aware of Laila Dowidar's great  importance for the success of the revival of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and of the  warm love and appreciation of all the Friends globally.


For the Swedish Friends,


 Annica Dahlström, chair of ScanCom


Ø Dear Friends,

My sympathy and condolences for the loss of Mrs. Dowidar, she will be always remembered for her services and friendly personality.
Gamil Sedrak, MD

Ø  A great friend to the Australians, while she was the International Relations Liaison manager at the B.A, Mona El Nashar replaced her. She was an American who married an Egyptian doctor and settled in Alex, had 2 children, one son a doctor who was in the States. When Dr. Dowidar died, she went to live with her son in California, she developed a massive tumor, was in good hands. On my last trip to San Francisco last year we were to have diner but she couldn’t make it. She did attend the second last meeting in October last I can’t remember if anyone of you met her. Strangely, Jason Collins in a trip of the tongue yesterday mentioned her name, and I was going to give her a call. Life is fragile and we don’t know how quickly we lose those we have spent fruitful times with. Her ironic humor, calming, mediating hand was very useful in the maelstrom of the International Friends meetings over the years, I will miss her, another name that will be inscribed in the early annals of the B.A. We will remember her.


Ø  I am deeply saddened by the sorrowful news of Layla's passing, after months of suffering and fighting with dignity the terrible tumor. May God bless her soul and May she rest in heavenly peace

        Having also mourned last week Mr. Mohamed El-Torgman, the BA/ ES Chief accountant, Who worked with Layla and myself on the project implementation since 1992, I feel the heavy loss of two of the most devoted, dedicated , efficient and honest team members. They will be deeply missed and long remembered.


I am personally full of sorrow and grief for losing Layla, whose untiring support, personal friendship, loyalty and professionalism will remain indelible in my memory. I hereby extend to her family, all BA workers who worked with us and knew her well, all the BA friends in Egypt and overseas my personal condolences. May God Almighty have mercy upon us all, and may Layla rest in peace!

 Mohsen Zahran.


Ø  The California Friends extend their deep sympathy to the Seattle and Egyptian families of Laila/Jeri Dowidar and to the Alexandrians who came to know and love her.  We knew Laila as the key contact with the Executive Secretariat and the Friends of the Library as we structured our California Friends group in the early 90’s. Her counsel, help, and kind, competent manner forged the direction of our Friends development in conjunction with Drs. Giovanni Romerio and Mohsen Zahran during the early days of the formation of  the International Friends of the Bibalex network.

Laila was the glue that kept us together, through diplomatic and creative programming, working far above and beyond regular work hours. The memory of her laughter rings in my ears, along with her witty comments.  She considered herself a Californian.  She was one of us, joining the California Friends when she returned to the West Coast upon retirement.  She spent over 15 years, I recall she once said 18, in Alexandria cherishing the city, culture as her own.

One of our California Friends, Carmela Ruby, visited her over a year  ago in Seattle just at the beginning of her illness.  Both of us maintained regular communications with Laila/Jeri, but not within the past few weeks.

We treasured Laila/Jeri’s friendship and leadership style within the BibAlex staff with the International Friends. We will truly miss her.

Rosalie Cuneo Amer

Chair, California Friends.


Ø  On behalf of the Friends in Norway I would like to join Rosalie and the Californian Friends in the words of sympathy regarding the death of Laila.  I was also lucky to have many meetings with her during the first 15 years of our support for the Library and her enthusiasm for the project as well as her support for the involvement of the International Friends was a great source of inspiration for all of us.




Bodil Hoem


Ø  On behalf of The Americas International Special Events, I and my husband Federico Sangirardi wish to send our deep condolences to the family and friends of Laila Dowidar.  We will certainly miss her gracious and generous efficiency which was always underscored by care and consideration of the dignity of all peoples. I first met Laila when she worked for Mohsen Zahran while the Bibliotheca was under construction. I visited her to give her a plaque of cooperation signed by Dorothy Hackbarth and myself representing the Northern California Fulbright Association and UNESCO USA.  Laila was most kind and refined and accepted our humble plaque as she showed me around the nascent structure. I will never forget the welcome she showed me at that time.  Since then, I have had a chance to speak with her at the Friends meetings and found her just as radiant and benevolent as ever.  My husband and I will truly miss her, and we want everyone in her family and her friends around the world, especially at the Bibliotheca, to know how much we will miss her.


  With kindest regards,

  Sharon Girard

  President, The Americas International Special



Ø  I am really destroyed over this terrible grief.

Laila introduced me in the B.A more than ten years ago and I started with her help and great suggestions a long trip towards dialogue among cultures, people, children...a long, very long beautiful story...that belongs to my life. I am really destroyed. She will live forever in the depth of my heart, she was one of my real few friends. I wish Laila paradise for her pure, splendid soul,

Federico and my wife Sharon E. Girard Ph.D.


Ø  Chers amis à la BA et de la BA,

Je m'associe à vous et à tous ceux qui prennent part à l’affliction d’avoir perdu une amie et une collaboratrice exceptionnelle. Je souhaite que Laila puisse recueillir dans nos pensées et nos prières, l’amour et l’estime que nous lui réservons  pour toujours dans nos cœurs profondément  émus.
Croyez en toute mon amitié et mes respectueux sentiments et veuillez recevoir mes condoléances très sincères.

Beatrice Jaberg – your Suisse friend  

Ø  Many of you have written beautifully about losing Laila Dowidar,  The same characteristics you described of her in her professional life also applied to her during this last year.

She approached her very serious condition head on, with intelligence and patience.  She was persistent in trying and enduring various treatments, hard and exhausting as they were, and she was willing to try new approaches.

What I also want to tell you about was her very great pleasure in living with her son Bassim and his wife (both of whom I met early on) and their children.  Jeri  (she resumed her original given name) had her grandchildren around her (I could sometimes hear them during our regular telephone chats), and also someone would take her across town to visit her parents.

With both her sons and their families Jeri went on holidays to Idaho and Hawaii.  Of course she had ups and downs but she also had wonderful humor and courage.  I learned a lot from our friendship and I miss her.

Carmela Ruby, her friend.


Ø  Sincere condolences from all German Friends.


Fahima Nokraschi 


Ø  I am really deeply sad by Layla's passing. I will never forget her kindness, her friendship, and how she got involved in the adventure of the Alexandrina Library from the beginning. She was a lady and after her courageous last fight, may she now rest in peace.

Jacqueline leroy .