Ishaq Shahryar

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Ishaq M. Shahryar (January 10, 1936 – April 12, 2009) was the Afghan ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2003. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan.[1] He arrived to the United States in 1956 on a government scholarship to study at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his bachelor's degree in Physical Chemistry and his Master's in International Relations. He worked as an engineer on solar energy projects for aerospace companies. In 1972, Shahryar invented the low-cost solar (photovoltaic) cells and developed the process for modern day screen-printing (or mass-producing) of cells used in solar energy panels.[citation needed] He was instrumental in the development of ultraviolet sensitive solar cells for the Jupiter Project for NASA. In 1993, he was awarded U.S. patent rights for a 20 percent efficient silicon solar cell. His latest patent is pending for a new solar cell that will reduce the cost of solar cells by 50 percent.[citation needed]

Shahryar went on to bring over 60 members of his family to the United States after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He helped several other Afghans relocate and adjust to life in the United States and continued to serve as a patron to the Afghan community throughout his life.

Shahryar founded Solec International, one of the world's leading manufacturers of solar electric technology, and Solar Utility Company, a solar cell engineering, design, marketing and installation company.[2] He also ran a prominent solar energy company in the Los Angeles area, Solar Utility.[2] He has recently founded a new company, Sun King Solar in Los Angeles.

While working in solar energy, in 1994, Shahryar was named to the U.S. Presidential Mission on Sustainable Energy and Trade to India and has acted as an adviser to numerous trade and environmental groups in the United States and abroad.[citation needed]

A longtime associate of former Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah, Shahryar represented the government of Hamid Karzai, who became Afghanistan's new president in the summer of 2002.[citation needed] He and his family moved to Washington, D.C. for him to take his position as the first Afghan Ambassador to the United States since 1978. He renounced U.S. citizenship in order to take up the position.[1][3] He worked pro bono and invested much of his own money in the embassy. In 2003, Shahryar resigned due to corruption and major road blocks in the Afghan government.[citation needed]


Shahryar died on April 12, 2009, in Pacific Palisades, California. He left behind a wife, Hafizah, a son named Alexander (Yale School of Management) and a daughter named Jahan (UC Berkeley School of Law).

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