Saliba received his Bachelor of Science (1963) in mathematics and a Master of Arts (1965) from the American University of Beirut; he earned a Master of Science degree in Semitic languages and a doctorate in Islamic sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. He has received a number of awards and honors, including the History of Science Prize given by the Third World Academy of Science in 1993, and the History of Astronomy Prize in 1996 from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science. He was also selected as a Distinguished Kluge Chair, at the Library of Congress (2005-2006), and as a Distinguished Carnegie Scholar (2009-2010).
In his website, he writes about himself: "I study the development of scientific ideas from late antiquity till early modern times, with a special focus on the various planetary theories that were developed within the Islamic civilization and the impact of such theories on early European astronomy."
Saliba has been doing research on the transmission of mathematical and astronomical ideas from the Islamic world to Europe during the 15-16th centuries.
In 2004, a pro-Israel activist organization, the David Project, produced a film, Columbia Unbecoming, interviewing students who claimed that Saliba and other Columbia professors had intimidated or been unfair to them for their pro-Israel views. Saliba rejected the accusation and published a rebuttal in Columbia Spectator (November 3, 2004) to that effect. Student Lindsay Shrier claimed that he told her that those with green eyes (like herself) are not racial "Semites", and have no valid national claim to middle-eastern lands. Saliba claims that this is a fabrication.
- "Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance", MIT Press (April 1, 2007) ISBN 0-262-19557-7 (hardcover, and in paperback as of 2011. The book has since been translated into Turkish, Arabic and Bahasa (Indonesian)
- "A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories During the Golden Age of Islam", New York, University Press; (1994) ISBN 0-8147-7962-X (hardcover); (reissue edition: November 1995) ISBN 0-8147-8023-7 (paperback)
- (With Linda Komaroff, Catherine Hess) "The Arts of Fire : Islamic Influences on Glass and Ceramics of the Italian Renaissance", Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum (June 10, 2004), ISBN 0-89236-757-1 (hardcover)
- "The Crisis of the Abbasid Caliphate" (Tabari, Ta'rikh Al-Rusul Wa'l-Muluk; annotated translation), State University of New York Press (November 1985) ISBN 0-87395-883-7 (Hardcover), ISBN 0-7914-0627-X (paperback)
- "The Astronomical Work of Mu’ayyad al-Din al-’Urdi (died 1266): A Thirteenth Century Reform of Ptolemaic Astronomy", Markaz dirasat al-Wahda al-'Arabiya, Beirut, 1990, 1995
- (With Sharon Gibbs) "Planispheric astrolabes from the National Museum of American History", Smithsonian Institution Press, (1984) ISBN 0-608-11955-5 (paperback)
- "The Pebble That Became A Fist-Full Rock: On the Continued Importance of Edward Said's Orientalism". Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- "The Ash'arites and the Science of the Stars" in Richard G. Hovannisian and George Sabagh (eds.), Religion and Culture in Medieval Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 79-92.
- dailyprincetonian.com: "Columbia prof discusses Islamic science"
- Rebutting a "Misguided Political Project" by George Saliba Columbia Spectator (November 3, 2004)
- "The `Silent Jews' speak out" by Shoshana Kordova Haaretz, February 8, 2005