Arif Lalani is a former Canadian diplomat who served as Ambassador to Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates. He was the first Canadian of Muslim origin to serve as ambassador.
His current engagements include: Senior Advisor, StrategyCorp; Distinguished Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (where he also teaches); Distinguished Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation; Senior Fellow, International Security Program, New America. He also serves on an advisory committee for the Prince’s Trust International and on the Mediation Advisory Board at Global Affairs Canada.
Earlier in his career he was posted to Turkey (with accreditation to Georgia and Azerbaijan), New York (representing Canada on the United Nations Security Council) and to Washington D.C. Ambassador Lalani was Canada’s first Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Across his career in the foreign service, Arif advanced Canada’s strategic political and business interests and purposefully shaped international responses to security, economic, development and humanitarian matters. As ambassador, he was instrumental in helping business seek opportunities and navigate challenges in some of the most important markets globally; and developed and executed complex government relations and communication strategies. In 2016, Ambassador Lalani took a four-year leave from government to head the Diplomatic Department of His Highness the Aga Khan. He represented the interests of the Imamat, and the Aga Khan Development Network, including its commercial agencies, globally. Returning to government, he focused on international organizations, particularly the UN and NATO. He has previously served on the boards of the Centre for International Governance Innovation; the Commonwealth of Learning; Hedayah; the Canadian Ditchley Foundation; and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. He has received the following honours: Alam Sayad Jamal-u-Din al Afghani Medal from the Republic of Afghanistan; the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Canada; and an Honourary PhD from the Canadian University, Dubai. He appears on major media networks in Europe and North America, often asked to speak about international crisis management. He holds an M.Sc. in Management, Organizations and Governance from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).