Lebanon's top academic institution – the American University of Beirut – is ranked yearly as one of the best in the Arab world.

Founded in 1866, the university boasts just over 150 years of excellence in higher education. In those years, a lot has changed and thousands of students have passed through the campus, learning and developing their skills for the future.

Many have gone on to achieve a great deal, leading global businesses, winning global prizes and even heading nations. Here's a look at some former AUB students that went on to do incredibly impressive things.

1. Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani was elected president of Afghanistan in September of 2014. Ghani and his Lebanese wife – Rula Fouad Saade, who serves as the first lady of Afghanistan – are both alumni of AUB.

Ghani completed his BA in political studies at AUB in 1973 and proceeded to complete an MA at AUB as well in 1977. He went on to study in the U.S. at Columbia University, receiving a doctorate degree.

After that, Ghani worked for 15 years at the World Bank. From 2002 to 2004, Ghani also served as the finance minister of Afghanistan.

2. Zaha Hadid, architect

Although she did not graduate from AUB, world-renowned British-Iraq architect Zaha Hadid attended the university and studied mathematics before transferring to the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.

The legendary architect died in 2016, but her achievements live on in buildings and under-construction projects all over the world. 

Hadid was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Along with numerous other honors and awards throughout her lifetime, she also became the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal before her death.

3. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, president of Maldives

Abdulla Yameen received a BA in Business Administration from AUB before going on to pursue graduate studies in the U.S.

Yameen began his government service in the late 70s, serving in various government positions including as Secretary at the Department of Finance, Research Officer at the Research and International Organisations Division of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), and a two-decade-long record of service in the Ministry of Trade and Industries. 

Yameen went on to serve as a Member at the People’s Majlis (the Maldivian Parliament) for another two decades before he was elected as president of the country.

4. Reem Acra, fashion designer

Reem Acra is well-known as one of the world's top wedding dress designers. Celebrities are also routinely spotted wearing the Lebanese designer's gowns to high-profile red carpet events.

But Acra's formative years were spent at AUB. Her father worked as a professor at the AUB Medical Center. She received a BBA from the university in 1982.  

5. Salam Fayyad, former PM of Palestinian Authority

Salam Fayyad graduated from AUB in 1975. He went on to complete an MBS at St. Edwards University and to earn a doctorate in economics from the University of Texas in Austin.

Fayyad worked for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Arab Bank before becoming the finance minister of Yasser Arafat's government in 2002. 

He later served as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority government from 2007 to 2013.

6. Karimeh Abbud, Arab world's first female photographer

Considered to be the first female photographer in the Arab world, Karimeh Abbud graduated with a degree in Arabic literature from AUB.

Abbud was born in Nazareth in 1893. Her father was a well-known Protestant minister and his constant travels across the country exposed her to Palestine's diverse landscapes, boosting her knack for natural beauty. 

She got her first camera as a gift for her 17th birthday and started taking photographs of family and friends. She then began capturing cities and historical landmarks, especially the landscape of Bethlehem, where she grew up.

Abbud's legacy includes hundreds of photos that reflect an important period of Palestinian history.

7. Abdullah S. Jum'ah, former CEO of Saudi Aramco

Prominent Saudi business executive Abdullah S. Jum'ah completed a BA in political science at AUB in 1968. 

After graduating, he went on to work at Saudi Aramco, eventually becoming the oil giant's president and CE0. Jum'ah led the company for 14 years before retiring at the beginning of 2009.

He continues to serve as director of the Saudi Investment Bank and as a director of the Saudi Arabian Supreme Council of Petroleum and Mineral Affairs.

8. Dr. Amal Mudallali, Lebanon's ambassador to the UN

Dr. Amal Mudallali was recently appointed as Lebanon's UN ambassador; becoming the first Lebanese female to ever hold the position. 

Mudallali graduated from the American University of Beirut with a degree in Political Science. She later continued her education, completing another degree in Political Communication from the University of Maryland in the U.S. She is considered one of the most prominent researchers at the Woodrow Wilson Research Center in the U.S., focusing on the Middle East and North Africa. 

One of Mudallali's earliest career posts includes working as Annahar's Washington correspondent. She was also late Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri's foreign media advisor. 

9. Charles W. Hostler, former U.S. ambassador

Charles W. Hostler is remembered as a soldier, ambassador, businessman, scholar, educator, author, and a global traveler. He is also an alumni of AUB, having obtained an MA from the university in 1955.

Hostler died in 2014 after a lifetime of incredible achievement in academia, diplomacy, and business. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain. He was also the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Commerce in the US Department of Commerce.

Hostler was granted an honorary doctorate from AUB in 2007. He donated $11.7 million to the university, which is among the largest contributions ever made to the institution. The contribution built the Charles Hostler Student Center, which opened its doors in 2008.

10. George Helou, NASA scientist

Lebanese astronomer George Helou is the Executive Director of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), the Deputy Director of the Spitzer Science Center and the Director of the NASA Herschel Science Center.

After attending AUB, Helou went on to receive a doctorate from Cornell University. He then helped develop the field of infrared astronomy, which uses non-visible light that is a bit less energetic than the light usually used when probing the workings of stars and galaxies.

Helou's work was instrumental to NASA's discovery of seven Earth-like planets, which was announced earlier this year. The incredible find drew headlines and excitement around the world.