Egyptian engineer Ireny Estmalek, a descendant of Imhotep, was the first and most renowned engineer in history to deny German citizenship because she did not want to give up her Egyptian nationality, wondering, “How can I give up my Egyptian identity and history?”

Estmalek said she traveled to Germany after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Ain Shams University. She then tried to work in Germany as an engineer, but the Germans did not acknowledge her degree back then.

At that time, Germans decided to convert a station that was used to wash American tanks during World War into a desalination plant water.

German engineers had the idea of demolishing the whole station and rebuilding it as it was made specifically for a military base. However, Engineer Ireny volunteered to work without pay for 6 months straight, promising to turn the place into a desalination plant without demolition or high cost.

Following her success, Germany finally recognized her work and acknowledged her certificate as an engineer. After that, Estmalek was able to build many water plants not only in Germany but also in Turkey, Vietnam, Sarajevo, Bosnia, Iraq, and China.

Egyptian engineer Ireny Estmalek is currently working in Egypt on establishing the largest sewage plant in the world, purifying water, and converting waste into energy in Yellow Mountain, in cooperation between Egypt and Germany.

Today, Ireny is recognized as one of the most prolific environmental engineering experts in the whole world and holds the prestigious position of environmental engineering consultant and vice president of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

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