100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Hossam Bahgat
18

Hossam Bahgat

Industry: Media

Designation: Journalist and activist

Country: Egypt

Country of origin: @hossambahgat

Hossam Bahgat is an investigative reporter with Egyptian newspaper Mada Masr. He started his career as a journalist but left the industry for a decade in 2002 to establish the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a Cairo-based independent think tank that works to defend human rights in Egypt through research, advocacy and litigation. He tells Arabian Business his independent journalism in the late 1990s “opened [his] eyes to serious and systemic human rights issues in Egypt”.

He has since carved out an impressive reputation for himself as an activist — in 2010, Human Rights Watch awarded Bahgat the Allison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, and in 2014 he received the Catherine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University. He has been an outspoken critic of the Mubarak government’s violations of human rights and played a prominent role in the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt in 2011. Although he returned to journalism in 2013, Bahgat remains chairman of the EIPR. He founded the Law and Society Research Unit at the American University of Cairo, and, until May, will work as a visiting scholar at the Columbia Journalist School in New York.

Based in Cairo, he also serves as board chairman of the International Network for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and as a member of the board of directors of the Fund for Global Human Rights.