Arif Lalani is the head of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs, serving His Highness the Aga Khan, at the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat, based in Lisbon, Portugal. He joined the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s board of directors in 2016.
Arif is a career Canadian diplomat who has served as Canada’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates in 2012, and subsequently was named Canada’s first special envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, undertaking both positions concurrently from 2013 to 2016. He was the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008, and ambassador to Jordan and to Iraq from 2006 to 2007. He has also served in Washington, DC, New York (representing Canada at the United Nations Security Council) and Turkey. Arif is a former director-general of strategic policy in the Canadian foreign ministry, where his work focused on open innovation and more traditional international policy issues.
He has a B.A. in International relations from the University of British Columbia and an M.Sc. in management, organisations and governance from the London School of Economics. He was also awarded an honorary Ph.D. (Doctor of Letters) from the Canadian University Dubai.
The president of Afghanistan presented Arif with the Alam Sayad Jamal-u-Din al Afghani medal, for his contribution to building peace and stability in Afghanistan. He is also a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for service to Canada and Canadians.