Saif is a professor of political science at Cairo University. From 2004 to 2011 he was a member of the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt's parliament. He is president of the Arab Council of Thought and a former member of the board of directors of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. He has held posts as a visiting fellow or lecturer at numerous institutions in the United States, Europe, and Africa. He received a doctorate in political science from Cairo University in 1981.