Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (Dhivehi: މައުމޫނު އަބްދުލް ގައްޔޫމް) (born December 29, 1937) was President of the Maldives from 1978 to 2008; currently, he is the leader of the opposition, heading the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party. After serving as Minister of Transport, he was elected as President by the Majlis and succeeded Ibrahim Nasir on November 11, 1978. He eventually became the longest-ruling head of government in Asia. After 30 years in office, he was defeated in the October 2008 presidential election and was succeeded by Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party on November 11, 2008.
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is the son of Abdul Gayoom (Maafaiygey Dhon Seedhi) and Khadheeja . His father had 25 children by 8 different wives and Gayoom is the 10th in his family. His mother died when he was studying in Cairo, Egypt. Gayoom's father, who died in 1982 at the age of 87, saw the first term of his son's presidency. His father was appointed the chief judge for some time.
Much of Gayoom's early life was spent in Egypt. He was among the 15 students selected at the direction of the then-president Mohamed Amin Didi for special education overseas. At the age of 10, he left for Egypt on 15 September 1947, with a stopover in Sri Lanka for a few days. However, his departure from Sri Lanka was delayed for two and a half years because of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, during which he completed his secondary education at Royal College, Colombo. When the war ended, he left for Egypt in March 1950 along with other Maldivian students.