Aziz Suryal Atiya, a University of Utah professor of languages and history and director of the Middle East Center, was in critical condition Saturday night in the University Hospital coronary intensive-care unit.

Hospital officials withheld further details about the 90-year-old professor's illness.A historian, writer and teacher, Atiya has taught in England, Germany, Switzerland, the Middle East and more than 20 U.S. universities. He has been on the U. faculty since 1959 and has directed the Middle East Center since 1962. He was appointed to the rank of distinguished professor in 1967, and is the author of more than 40 books, monographs and articles in three languages.