Icarus in Kazakhstan: The Remarkable Journey of Gabriel Al-Salem

The Slavic Department faculty and students were saddened by the tragic and sudden loss of Gabriel who, on 27 November 2010 at the age of 43, died in a paragliding accident in the mountains near Almaty, Kazakhstan. Gabriel is survived his wife, Viktoria, and their daughter, Anya; father, Bader Al-Salem of Kuwait; and mother, Margarete Dorsch (Lindsborg, KS). His family, colleagues, and friends have established the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation (Фонд им. Габриэля Аль-Салем), which raises funds for initiatives to support young talents following in his footsteps in international careers in management consulting, including an initiative to establish a KU scholarship for students of Slavic languages.

Gabriel was one of the most accomplished alumni of the KU Slavic program, having employed his Russian language skills to embark upon a unique and rich life journey. During his time at KU (1985–1989) he was touched by many faculty members, whose mentorship he valued and who in turn highly regarded his many talents and intellectual curiosity. Margarete particularly mentioned her memory of Gabriel talking about Maria Carlson, Tamerlan Salaty, Masha Kipp, Eugenia Felton (SLL); William Kuhlke (Theatre); Bob Anderson (French); Jacob Kipp, Ron Francisco (Political Science); and Zouhuang Chen (University Orchestra), all of whom represent the many facets of Gabriel’s academic and artistic interests. A memorial page about Gabriel is found on the Slavic Department’s Doers’ Profiles page. This article gives a sense of his many accomplishments.