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1. Jawad Nabulsi
\nCulture and society
\nAs Egypt’s leadership has violently chopped and changed over the past four years, various rights activists and humanitarians have changed course or fled the country. But not Jawad Nabulsi. He took a gunshot to the eye to defend freedom during the protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and now wears a trademark eye patch, a poignant reminder of his passionate beliefs.
\nIt was that eye wound that led the well-educated businessman to create Nebny Foundation, now one of the most influential non-government organisations in Egypt. Bleeding profusely, it was hours before Nabulsi could find a doctor who would treat him due to the political sensitivities at the time. Once healed, he started the foundation, which provided medical assistance to 2,200 people injured during the first uprising.
\nBut he realised there were deeper issues of illiteracy, acute health problems and unemployment. Turning down a post-revolution offer to become Minister of Youth, Nabulsi guided the Nebny Foundation to assist Cairo’s slum poor by providing them with education, medical assistance, micro-loans and business advice. The foundation has now impacted more than 140,000 people in less than four years and its work was recognised by the World Bank when it was chosen from 40,000 Middle East NGOs to become one of its donor recipients.
\nNeby’s illiteracy programme, giving primary school students two hours of lessons a day and a meal for three months, has been adopted by the Egyptian government and the foundation is launching an entrepreneurship centre in June.
\nNabulsi also lectures around the world on happiness and leadership and is currently working on his book, entitled “How I became Happy”.
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2. Bader Al Kharafi
\nMA Al Kharafi & Sons Company
\nBader Al Kharafi is one of the most powerful men in Kuwait, as one of the heads of the family conglomerate MA Al Kharafi & Sons Company.
Established in 1956, the group is now estimated to be worth more than $8bn, with more than 135 registered companies operating in 28 countries, across sectors including construction, trading and manufacturing, investments and development, and travel and leisure. Al Kharafi took the helm as director of the group’s executive committee in 2012, following the death of his highly esteemed father, Nasser. He holds several high-profile roles within the family business, including as a board member of Gulf Bank, a board member of Foulath Holding (Bahrain Steel) and chairman and managing director of Gulf Cables & Electrical Industries. He was recently elected vice chairman of Zain Group, the telecommunications giant that operates in eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa, with about 44.3 million customers and $4.3bn in turnover.
\nIn April 2014, Coutts, the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, announced it had appointed Al Kharafi to its Middle East Advisory Board.
\nA keen advocate of youth development, he is also a board member for INJAZ, a non-government organisation that teaches students entrepreneurship and financial literacy at a time when the Gulf state is working to encourage more nationals into the private sector.
\nWith ongoing plans to expand, Al Kharafi’s influence is only expected to continue rising.
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3. Hassan Al Thawadi
\nSupreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy
\nHassan Al Thawadi is responsible for organising the most anticipated event in Qatar’s history — the FIFA World Cup in 2022. The Supreme Committee is coordinating everything required to host the international football extravaganza, from building state-of-the-art air-conditioned stadiums and a plethora of supporting infrastructure to dealing with international criticism of the treatment of construction workers and the timing of the event. The 37-year-old was appointed in March, 2011, after leading the country’s bidding committee that successfully brought the event to the Middle East for the first time. As the face of the 2022 World Cup, he has dealt with persistent allegations of corruption during the bidding process. In February, he told Al Jazeera: “I can’t say if there is a prejudice against Qatar, but what I can say is there is a clear bias.”
\nThe Sheffield University law graduate also is general counsel at the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority, and Qatar Holding, which have investments in Porsche, Volkswagen, Barclays Bank, the New York Stock Exchange and Harrods, not to mention countless high-end European properties.
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4. Khaldoon Al Mubarak
\nCEO and Chairman
\nMubadala Development Company and Manchester City Football Club
\nBanking and finance
\nSince taking over as chairman in 2008, Al Mubarak has transformed Manchester City FC from a backwater team into one of the wealthiest sporting clubs in the world that has obtained two Premier League titles and won both the League Cup and FA Cup.
\nHis business prowess also is being used to guide Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification as CEO of Mubadala, the government’s investment and development vehicle with multi-billion dollar projects and significant stakes in companies including Ferrari, AMD, the Carlyle Group and General Electric.
\nAl Mubarak is a key confidant of the emirate’s Crown Prince, holding the position of chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority and as a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
\nHe is also the chairman of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the Abu Dhabi Media Zone Authority and Emirates Global Aluminium, and is a representative on numerous other government organisations covering areas from education to urban planning. In his role as chairman of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, Al Mubarak also was instrumental in bringing the Formula One Grand Prix and the FIFA Club World Cup to Abu Dhabi.
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5.Noura Al Kaabi
\nMedia Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi and twofour54
\nAs CEO of the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi and its commercial arm, twofour54, Noura Al Kaabi has been instrumental in developing the UAE’s media and creative content scene across all mediums. The authority now has more than 240 media organisations on its campus and has launched the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, and the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.
\nAl Kaabi also is involved in government policy as a member of the Federal National Council, where she has particularly promoted measures to protect the rights of children. She also sits on the board of Abu Dhabi Media, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, Image Nation and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Al Kaabi spends what little spare time she has as a member of the Advisory Board for Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
\nHer work has been recognised by prestigious media outlets internationally, including as the first Emirati to be ranked in Foreign Policy magazine’s ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers List’. She is regularly included in CEO Middle East’s 100 most powerful Arab Women list.
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6. Iqbal Al Asaad\nDoctor
\nWhen you graduate from high school aged 12, with biochemistry and algebra in your skillset, you are bound to do brilliant things. Iqbal Al Asaad certainly did, graduating as the youngest ever Arab doctor at 20, in 2013.
\nThe child prodigy, who says she began learning as a toddler while listening to her father tutor her older brothers, grew up in a rural Lebanese village and was struck at an early age by the poverty she witnessed. Her visits to Palestinian refugee camps, where she often heard stories of sick children unable to get the medical care they needed, inspired her to become a paediatrician. Her dream caught the attention of Lebanon’s education minister, who secured her a medical scholarship under the Qatar Foundation and she joined Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha.
\nShe is now furthering her credentials under the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Paediatric Residency Programme in the US.\nBut Al Asaad’s dream to return to Lebanon and help the Palestinian refugees who inspired her career may be difficult because Palestinians are not allowed to work as doctors in Lebanon.
\nWherever she ends up, the genius humanitarian is sure to make an impression in the Arab medical world for decades to come.
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7. Fahd Al Rasheed
\nCEO and managing director
\nKing Abdullah Economic City
\nFahd Al Rasheed is coordinating the world’s largest construction project, King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). The $100bn megaproject is being built from scratch about 100km north of Jeddah with an eventual capacity to host two million people.
\nAt the centre of the city is King Abdullah Port, which is aiming to use its strategic location on the Red Sea, through which almost one-quarter of world shipping trade passes, to make it a game changer. Port manager Rayan Bukhari said in March it would steal trade from Dubai’s Jebel Ali, one of the largest in the world, by being cheaper and more efficient.
\nThe city also includes an Industrial Valley, as well as residential communities, tech clusters, universities and hospitals. Haramain Station on the eastern side will link the city to Jeddah and the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Saudi Arabia’s latest high-speed rail network. A mega-mall also is being built near the station. KAEC already has provided about 12,000 jobs and more than 70 companies are in the process of setting up bases, including multinationals Mars, Pfizer and Danone, and local family giants Abdul Latif Jameel and the Naghi Group.
\nWhen it is finished, not likely until at least the middle of the next decade, KAEC is expected to be as big as Washington DC. But in an interview with Arabian Business last year, Al Rasheed shrugged off the pressure to perform.
\n“It’s fun — every day there’s something new, it fuels you,” he said. “This is my seventh year, and it’s amazing — I’m working harder than ever.”
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8. Hashim Shawa
\nChairman and General Manager
\nBank of Palestine
\nBanking and finance
\nIt was under difficult circumstances that Hashim Shawa took over the reins of his family bank. Aged 31 in 2007, succession plans were immediately fast-forwarded after the death of Shawa’s father. Gaza, where 20 percent of Bank of Palestine’s retail operations are generated, was enduring yet another conflict with Israel and the world was about to fall into the global financial crisis.
\nBut eight years on and the Bank of Palestine, under Shawa’s guidance, has become the second-largest private sector employer in Palestine, with 1,300 employees across 54 branches. The bank is expected to post a record profit for 2014 when its results are released in April. Profit during the first three quarters of last year amounted to $27.6m, despite being forced to close its Gaza branches during the area’s seven-week war with Israel in July-August.
\nShawa established his banking career with global leaders Citibank and HSBC, working in various European countries. Prior to returning to Palestine, he was director of HSBC Switzerland’s Middle East and North Africa business, with responsibility for developing the company’s private banking business in the Gulf and establish HSBC’s onshore presence in Kuwait.
\nShawa also serves as chairman or on the board of several other financial firms and is a member of the Emerging Markets Advisory Council at the International Institute of Finance Washington, DC.
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9. Amal Clooney
\nDoughty Street Chambers
\nAmal Clooney (nee Alamuddin) has been defending high-profile clients in international legal cases for years but it was the announcement of her engagement to Hollywood actor George Clooney in April 2014, that really brought her under the spotlight.
\nThe lawyer, activist and author is now also somewhat of a style icon, featuring in fashion and gossip magazines worldwide. However, the highly intelligent barrister, who has degrees from Oxford University and New York University’s School of Law, had already begun gaining notoriety for handling some of the most contentious human rights cases in recent years, including that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
\nIn February, she publicly ridiculed the Canadian government for failing to do more to assist its citizen, Fahmy, who was on bail awaiting retrial after more than a year behind bars in Egypt on terrorism-related charges. Clooney remarked that Canada’s “sheepish whimpers are woefully inadequate”.
\nShe has also served on the International Court of Justice, worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, advised UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Syria, represented Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and is an advisor to Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa, among other accomplishments.
\nIn August 2014, she turned down an offer to join the UN’s three-member commission investigating possible war crimes during last year’s Israel–Gaza conflict, citing her consistently heavy workload.\nClooney was born in Beirut but her family emigrated to the UK in 1980 during the Lebanese Civil War.
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10. Maher Zain
\nIslamic music star
\nCulture and society
\nWith 23.5 million Facebook fans, there is no disputing the global popularity of Islamic musician Maher Zain. In only six years since releasing his first album, the R&B singer has amassed a following from Morocco to Malaysia.
\nZain, whose family emigrated to Sweden when he was just eight, entered the music industry as a producer working alongside Grammy award-winning music executive RedOne, famous for his work with the likes of Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez.\nBut in 2009 he returned to his Islamic roots and focused on writing and singing his own contemporary R&B music with a strong Muslim influence. His first album, ‘Thank You Allah’, was released on November 1, 2009, by Awakening Records. It became the highest-selling album of 2010 in Malaysia and went multi-platinum in Malaysia and Indonesia, where he has had his biggest successes. His second album ‘Forgive Me’ released in April, 2012, also went multi-platinum in Malaysia.
\nZain sings mainly in English but has released some of his most popular songs in languages such as French, Arabic, Turkish, Malay and Indonesian.
\nHe also supports UNHCR — the UN Refugee Agency and last year visited Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon, where he performed a concert.
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11. Ahmad Belhoul
\nDr Ahmad Belhoul is spearheading the development of one of Abu Dhabi’s most significant projects. Masdar City, which is in the process of being built outside the UAE capital, is billed as being the world’s first sustainable eco-city. It already features the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a research institute focused on clean energy, as well as the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). But Masdar is about much more than the city; it is also building and investing in clean energy projects all over the world.
\nPrior to joining Masdar, Belhoul was the CEO of strategy and tourism sector development at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). During his tenure at DTCM, he played a leading role in developing Dubai’s Tourism 2020 strategy. He also serves on the board of Emirates Development Bank, a financial institution set up by the UAE government to promote economic growth in the country through the provision of funding to small and medium-sized companies, industries of strategic importance and key housing developments.
\nBelhoul has a PhD from Sir John Monash University in Australia, an MSc from the University of Melbourne and a BSc from Khalifa University in the UAE.
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12. Mariam Al Mansouri
\nMajor mariam Al Mansouri broke tradition when she became the first female Emirati fighter pilot. But her achievement was emboldened further in September last year when she led the UAE’s air strikes on ISIL in Syria, captivating the Arab world and beyond.
\n“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot and she is on a mission,” the UAE’s ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba said when confirming her role in the coalition attack. It was an accurate choice of words to describe the Abu Dhabi woman who was so determined to become a fighter pilot she joined the UAE military as a general officer despite women being banned from the air force combat role at the time.\nThen the law changed, and so too did Al Mansouri’s life. She graduated from the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College in 2007 and, now a major, works with F-16 Block 60 aircraft, among the most advanced military aircraft in the world.
\nAl Mansouri is one of eight children and while she says her family have supported her career choice, she has had to endure some gender discrimination. But the top-grade student has reportedly proven herself more than capable.
\nShe also has an undergraduate degree in English literature from the UAE University and last year was awarded the Mohammed Bin Rashid Pride of the Emirates medal.
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13. Rani Raad
\nChief operating officer
\nThe 39-year-old executive vice president and chief commercial officer of global news network CNN has said that he is from a “media family” and always knew which career he would pursue. His Lebanese father, Ramzi, is chairman of Middle East-based advertising agency TBWA/Raad and his brother Reda is the company’s chief executive, based in Dubai. Raad’s own rise up the ranks of CNN’s parent company Turner Broadcasting has been meteoric — within five years of joining the company as a research assistant he had been promoted to vice president for regional advertising sales in the Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe and has continued to develop CNN’s international ad sales and business development activities into a core source of revenue.\nHe was appointed to his current role in London in February 2013, retaining responsibility for Turner’s portfolio of news, entertainment and children’s channels across Turkey, the Middle East and Africa. In 2011, the World Economic Forum awarded him the title of Young Global Leader for his professional and personal contributions to the media industry. Raad studied at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York and is fluent in English, French and Arabic.
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14. Adeeb Al Balushi
\nChild prodigy Adeeb Al Balushi is just ten years old but has invented an artificial foot for his dad, a robotic vacuum cleaner for his mum and an innovative cat flap. Now, he is busy working on a device that could save the lives of drivers with heart ailments. The young inventor, who lives with his family in Dubai, is developing a system that will send automatic alerts to family members, hospitals and the police if there is a fault in the driver’s heartbeat.
\n“I was once travelling with my dad in his car. He used to smoke then, and was coughing a lot. He asked me what would happen if he was alone and had a heart attack while driving. I thought about it for two days and decided that seat belts that run across your chest could be used to measure heart beats,” he told local press in 2013.
\nAl Balushi is a pupil at GEMS Wellington Academy in Dubai but says all he wants to do is help people in discomfort. “I want to change the world. There are too many people in need of assistance and all I think of is how I can be of help.” He was praised by Dubai Municipality on last year’s World Intellectual Property Rights Day, and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, is reportedly arranging a world tour for the young Emirati to prepare him for a future career in scientific research.
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15. Afrah Nasser
\nJournalist and blogger
\nThe 30-year-old journalist worked as a reporter for the Yemen Observer newspaper between 2008 and 2011 but has since become known for her influential blog that focuses on women’s rights, democracy and the politics of Yemen. The Yemen revolution in 2011 — “when youth, like me, took the streets and called for social justice and equal citizenship for all” — was what prompted her to start writing the blog, and it has since been described as one of the ten must-read blogs from the Middle East by CNN, and ranked number three among the top 35 Middle East blogs by Al Monitor. The BBC featured Nasser in its coverage of “100 women who changed the world”, and in 2014 she won the Swedish Publicist Club’s Dawit Isaak Prize in honour of the Eritrean journalism who campaigned for press freedom but has been jailed since 2001. As well as her blog, she has written columns and articles for media outlets including The National, Al Arabi magazine and Yemen’s Al Thawra newspaper, worked for Swedish International Radio 2012 and contributed to two books. Despite receiving death threats from supporters of the Yemeni regime, Stockholm-based Nasser refuses to stop writing about what is happening in her homeland, telling Arabian Business, “My weapon is only my words, and I use them to speak up for the voiceless.”
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16. Yousef Munayyer
\nWriter and political analyst
\nCulture and society
\nBorn in Lod, Israel, 31-year-old Munayyer is executive director of Washington DC-based not-for-profit the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development and The Palestine Centre. Both organisations aim to provide humanitarian support to Palestinian people and promote Palestinian-Arab culture in the United States. Munayyer contributes to American newspapers including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe and has appeared on numerous international television and radio programmes to discuss the Middle East. In particular, he has criticised Israeli occupation of Arab territory and called on the US government to implement a fundamental policy change.\nIn a piece for the New York Times in 2012 he complained that because he is an Israeli citizen, he has to fly into Ben-Gurion Airport when visiting Israel, but his wife, who has a Palestinian ID, must fly to Amman, Jordan, resulting in “a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn”.
\nLast year, Munayyer became involved in a heated argument with Fox News presenter Sean Hannity over Israel’s bombing of Gaza. The conservative host refused to allow Munayyer to speak on several occasions, which led to British comedian Russell Brand lampooning the incident via a YouTube clip. Munayyer has dual American-Israeli citizenship and lives in Washington DC.
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17. Majid Jafar
\nMajid Jafar runs the region’s oldest privately held energy giant, Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum. The firm has focused on oil and gas exploration in countries like Iraq and Egypt, and alongside sister company Dana Gas (of which Jafar is also managing director), has invested over $1bn in Kurdistan’s energy sector. That, however, is only part of Jafar’s story.
\nHe is also vice chairman of the Crescent Group, the holding company founded by his father Hamid Jafar, which includes interests in transport, logistics, private equity and property, and is also vice chairman of the Global Energy Initiative, an NGO based in New York which focuses on sustainable development through tackling climate change and energy poverty worldwide.
\nHe is also vice chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Youth Unemployment, and the founder of the Arab Stabilisation Plan, a strategy that aims to use the private sector in the region to combat economic instability. In addition, Jafar is also chairman of the Middle East-North Africa Business Council, and holds degrees from Cambridge, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
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18. Hossam Bahgat
\nJournalist and activist
\nHossam 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”.
\nHe 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.\nBased 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.
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19. Nancy Ajram
\nArts and entertainment
\nLebanese pop singer nancy Ajram began performing as a child and released her first studio album when she was 15. Her breakthrough came when she collaborated with the producer Jiji Lamara for the first time to release smash hit ‘Akhasmak Ah’ on her third studio album ‘Ya Salam’ in 2002. The song became known in part because of its glamorous promotional video, and Ajram has since become known for her high budget music videos, filming several per album. In 2004 she released her second international bestselling album ‘Ah W Noss’, which cemented her status as an Arab pop icon. In 2009 she was even described by Oprah Winfrey as ‘the Britney Spears of the Middle East’. Successive albums have included ‘Ya Tabtab...Wa Dallaa’ (2006), ‘Shakhbat Shakhabit’ (2007) and ‘Betfakkar Fi Eih?!’ (2008); the latter won Ajram her first World Music Award for the World’s Best-Selling Middle Eastern Artist. She has since won a string of other awards, including the Murex d’or Award. The 31-year-old, who has two daughters with her dentist husband, is the first and only female sponsor and spokesperson of Coca-Cola in the Middle East and Arab world.\nHer official Facebook page is reportedly the most subscribed female Arabic artist page on the social media network.
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20. Qusai Khouli
\nArts and entertainment
\nBorn in Tartous, Qusai Khouli studied at the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts in Damascus. He graduated in 1999 and first appeared in TV show called ‘Orientals’. Ever since, Khouli has taken on a series of varied roles, from comedy to drama. Perhaps his most famous turn came in the historical drama Bab Al Hara (Neighbourhood’s Gate), a smash-hit production that followed the fortunes of a small Damascene suburb in the 1930s. More recently, Khouli played a blind man with a talent for playing the piano in the serial Al Ishq Al Haram.
\nNext up for the Syrian superstar is the second season of the MBC historical drama Saraya Abdeen, which will be shown during Ramadan. The show tells the story of the khedive (or viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan in the 19th century; Khouli plays the role of Ismail Pasha.
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21. Loujain Al Hathloul
\nCulture and society
\nLoujain Al Hathloul made headlines last October when she was arrested for flouting a ban against women driving in Saudi Arabia. The 25-year-old Saudi national was arrested when she attempted to drive from the UAE into the kingdom and her friend, Maysaa Al Amoudi, 33, was detained when she went to the border to support her. The pair was reportedly referred to the terrorism court because of their posts on social media. Al Hathloul has a phenomenal following — 242,000 Twitter followers, and, at the time, 92,000 on Instagram and 670,000 on Canadian social networking site Keek — and had been tweeting about her journey before the arrest. The women were released in February and Al Hathloul has won admirers for her outspoken non-conformist views.
\nAn anonymous post on the blog Saudiwoman.me states: “Being an individual in Saudi is a ginormous [sic] feat that has surprisingly been accomplished by a young lady, Loujain Al Houthloul.” Even before her arrest she had caused a commotion by posting a video on Keek in 2013 showing her with her face and hair uncovered. On the video, she addressed the fact openly by insisting that she wouldn’t ever cover. The video went viral and had such a huge impact that she has since deleted it from her Keek page, but it can still be viewed on YouTube.
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22. Hosam Zowawi
\nAustralia (Saudi Arabia)
\nHosam Zowawi describes himself on his Twitter profile as “a superbug fighter and polo player”. The 30-year-old is a clinical microbiologist specialising in antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases — so-called “superbugs”. As part of his PhD studies at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research in Brisbane, Zowawi has developed a fast diagnostic tool called “Rapid Superbug” that identifies the type of infection more quickly — crucial due to the lethal nature of such infections and the speed at which they spread. In 2014 he scooped the Young Laureate, Science & Health award in the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, and tells Arabian Business his main motivation for pursuing his line of research is “the sense of responsibility” he feels to prevent humans from future infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “On a daily basis, I am witnessing pathogens with frightening survival capability.
Preventing those odds to spread in our communities is a real responsibility I have to carry.” Although he now lives in Australia, Zowawi was born in Al Hada, Saudi Arabia, and his PhD research project is funded by a long list of Gulf organisations including Kuwait University, the King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University for Health Science and Oman’s Royal Hospital. He is analysing bacteria sourced from the GCC to identify the predominate genotype spread in GCC hospitals and highlight the importance of ongoing surveillance of multidrug-resistant organisms across the Gulf.
\nHe adds on Twitter that he is “the son of noble parents, husband of the most supportive and intelligent queen, and father of a clever princess”.
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23. Soha Al Qeshawi
\n“Working with bits and bytes all day is much cooler than you might think,” software engineer Soha Al Qeshawi told Middle East Monitor this year. Based in Houston, Texas, the Palestinian is working on NASA’s Orion spacecraft programme, helping to design and engineer the vessel to transport astronauts into deep space. “I get to simulate Orion missions almost every day, just as if we’re flying in space,” she said. “I test the systems from launch, through flight and back to Earth. If I find any issues, I resolve them and retest to ensure a smooth and safe flight for our future crews.”
\nAl Qeshawi grew up in Gaza City but studied engineering at the University of Houston at Clear Lake, Texas. Soon after graduation, she began work on NASA’s Space Shuttle programme, which wrapped up in 2011.
\n“I saw Orion as the new beginning for the next human spaceflight programme and wanted to be a part of it,” she has said. As a senior software engineer working on Orion, Al Qeshawi is responsible for software and hardware integration and testing to ensure the spacecraft’s computer commands perform as expected. NASA launched the first test flight of the spacecraft in December 2014, with crewed missions potentially following in the early 2020s. She has been praised as a positive role model for women in the Middle East and beyond. “My advice to young girls around the world: always have a dream, dream big, and work really hard to make your dream come true. Mine did,” she said.
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24. Badr Jafar
\nCEO and entrepreneur
\nCulture and society
\nOne of the UAE’s best known businessmen, 35-year-old Jafar is chief executive of Sharjah-based Crescent Enterprises and much more besides. He explained in an interview with Arabian Business’ sister title CEO Middle East last October: “My career so far has been a journey of interlinked paths — one with the family business [Crescent Group] and others being my own initiatives and start-ups — and both continue to benefit the other.”
\nAmong his ventures are the Pearl Initiative, a not-for-profit he founded with the United Nations Office for Partnerships in 2010 to improve corporate transparency across the Gulf. He is a staunch advocate of entrepreneurship and a member of numerous bodies to support SMEs, including the Global Board of Education for Employment and Synergos Arab World Social Innovators. He also chairs the Alumni Advisory Council of the Cambridge University Judge Business School in the UK, where he gained his MST after studying at Eton College and then Cambridge University. Jafar is as comfortable in the recording studio as in the boardroom — in 2011 he and legendary producer Quincy Jones released an Arabic charity single entitled ‘Tomorrow/Bokra’, presented by pop star Shakira and featuring 26 Arab artists to raise money for educational arts projects for disadvantaged youth across the MENA region. The same year, Jafar and Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey launched a not-for-profit theatre academy in the Middle East.
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25. Omar Abdulrahman
\nOmar Abdulrahman, nicknamed Omoory, is an Emirati footballer who plays as a winger and attacking midfielder for the UAE’s national football team, as well as Al Ain. International soccer association ESPN ranked him number one in the top ten Asian players of 2012, and he was voted Emirati Player of the Year, Fans’ Player of the Year and Young Arab Player of the Year at the end of the 2012/13 season when his side won the 2012 Super Cup league. The 23-year-old started his career on trial with Al Hilal Saudi FC in 2000 and joined Al Ain in 2007 when he was just 15. He made his debut in 2009, winning his first senior honours, such as the Etisalat Cup, the Presidents’ Cup and the Super Cup. However, he suffered a ligament injury the following season and had to be sidelined for six months. The injury recurred in 2011/12 and again Abdulrahman was out for six months — although when he returned his club won the league. Later, he completed a two-week trial with Manchester City but returned to Al Ain as a key player in a 2012/13, scoring eight goals.
\nIn February this year, Abdulrahman agreed a new four-year contract with Al Ain thought to be worth AED14m a year — dispelling rumours of a possible move to a European league.
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26. Manahel Thabet
\nManahel Thabet describes herself on Twitter as a “simple human being” — but in this she is being exceptionally modest. The Yemeni mathematician, economist and scientist earned her first PhD in Financial Engineering ‘magna cum laude’, making her the youngest person and only Arab ever to have attained such distinction. She went on to earn a second PhD in 2012, this time with a major in Quantum Mathematics. She has an IQ of over 168, which puts her in the top 0.1 percent of people in the world, and as such is an active member of geniuses’ network Mensa International. In 2012, Thabet developed a formula that measures distance in space without the use of light. According to her Wikipedia entry the formula was considered groundbreaking in the field of Quantum Mathematics and is reportedly 350 pages of numbers, calculations and equations. She has won numerous awards for her work including Arab Inspirational Woman 2010, Genius of the Year 2013 and a United Nations humanitarian award, and is also a goodwill ambassador. Prior to 2008, Thabet traded in the stock market but withdrew her investments believing correctly that there would be a financial crisis. Instead, she founded a business and risk management advisory group called Smart Tips Consultants, which specialises in helping those affected by the financial crash. In 2014 she was appointed official patron of MBA Women’s Leadership Programme in Synergy University’s Dubai campus.
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27. Lina Attalah
\nWhen the Egypt Independent was shut down in April 2013 by its publishers, a group of its former journalists got together under the leadership of Lina Attalah to establish a new online bilingual newspaper, Mada Masr.
\nAttalah, the former editor of Egypt Independent, is the chief editor and founder of Mada Masr.
\nMada, which means “span” or “range” in Arabic, but it’s also the spot where a stone is placed on a ring, a symbol of taking a position, and Masr is often referred to as Egypt. The website was launched on 30 June 2013, the day that a mass demonstration calling for the resignation of Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s president, was planned.
\nMada Masr was Attalah’s seventh news venture; many of the previous ones had closed because of successive governments’ attitude towards independent-minded journalists.\nWith over 38,000 followers on Twitter, Atallah is regarded as a respected voice on Egypt, having covered all notable events in the country’s recent history. As well as editing Mada Masr, Atallah has written for numerous publications including Reuters, Al Masry Al Youm and Cairo Times, and has worked as a radio producer and campaign coordinator for the BBC World Service trust.
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28. Sultan Al Qassemi
\nSocial and political commentator
\nCulture and society
\nIt wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is one of the UAE’s most famous citizens. Whether he’s debunking myths about Dubai in the British press or railing against the growth of sectarianism in the region, Al Qassemi’s opinions are widely respected by his army of 335,000 followers on Twitter.
\nThe Sharjah native came to worldwide prominence during the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions, when Al Qassemi’s rapid Twitter output established him as an authoratitive voice on Middle Eastern affairs. “I felt, in a tiny, minuscule way, that I contributed — among many, many other people — to what happened,” he told the Guardian newspaper in 2011. But Al Qassemi’s first love lies in the world of art. He founded the Barjeel Art Foundation in 2010, which aims to showcase the works of established and emerging contemporary artists from the Arab world. It also houses over 200 pieces from Al Qassemi’s private collection. Last month, he co-directed the Global Art Forum at Art Dubai. Al Qassemi is also a non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government.
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29. Khalaf Ahmad Al Ghaith
\nAssistant to Director General
\nCulture and society
\nHe is no stranger to success: last year Lieutenant Colonel Khalaf Ahmad Al Ghaith won the coveted “Distinguished Government Employee” award. Presented by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the awards each year recognise exceptional government employees, departments and initiatives. And his work over many years has been nothing short of exceptional. He first worked within CID at Dubai Police for a decade, starting from 1997, before moving to DNRD in 2007 where he quickly rose up the ladder. He is a graduate from the fourth batch of Dubai Police College and has a law degree. At DNRD, he is credited with many new initiatives including helping his department save 25 percent in its 2012 budget. He also reduced the number of printers, and paper and ink consumption, bringing annual savings to the DNRD of over $130,000.
\nSpeaking to Arabian Business, Al Ghaith said the secret of his success was teamwork. “It’s about picking a great team to work with you, and then giving them not just leadership but support. I like to think of the people who work for me not as employees, but as part of my family. I am here to help them in every way I can, in any matter even if it is not related to work.”
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30. Radwa Rostom
\nRadwa Rostom is a civil engineer with a passion for sustainability and community development.
\nHer enthusiasm about the environment and knowledge of engineering led to her explore idea of addressing the lack of housing for poor communities in Cairo by providing new environmentally friendly living spaces in the city.
\nRostom currently works as a training & CSR specialist at the Solar Energy Co. Her work mainly involves managing initiatives which the company is leading in the field of social development and working with international organisations, NGOs, donor agencies, as well as governmental bodies.
\nRostom also works with UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) in implementing energy management systems in Egyptian industrial facilities.
\nIn January 2014, Radwa was granted a fellowship from the DO School in Hamburg, Germany. At this time she had an idea: to provide a humane shelter for slum dwellers in Egypt. After receiving several training, workshops and coaching sessions, the idea was developed a project under the name Hand Over.
\nHand Over, a sub-project from the “Ezbet Project”, seeks to provide sustainable, affordable and durable houses for slum dwellers by empowering architecture and civil engineering students/graduates, along with the local residents, and jointly they design and implement sustainable shelters for slum dwellers.
\nIn its first year, Hand Over will rebuild one housing unit in Abu-Qarn district using the rammed earth technique, with a team formed of 27 engineering students/graduates and a group from the local residents. Once the first prototype has been successfully delivered, residents will be able to own their own homes through the offering of flexible payment arrangements.
\nHand Over’s vision is expand this solution to include all slum areas in Egypt.
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31. Mariam Abultewi
\nIn an area where telecommunications are greatly restricted, with no 3G coverage, 25-year old Gazan entrepreneur, Mariam Abultewi, has created a version of Uber that works offline.
\nAbultewi came up with the idea for Wasselni when, as a 22-year-old, she was waiting for a lift in the middle of the Gaza Strip.
\nFunding for the idea wasn’t initially forthcoming when she initially pitched the idea to investors in 2011. With the help of Gaza Sky Geeks, the first start-up accelerator in the Gaza Strip, she landed an investment from Palinno, a Palestinian operation that works in both Gaza and the West Bank. It was one of the first start-up investments in Gaza, and she sees it as a step toward changing attitudes that still linger in the Middle East.\nThree years on from that first brainwave, Wasselni now has 2,000 subscribers and about 70 vetted drivers.
\nTaxi drivers and taxi companies can join the system to get ride requests. They get real time notifications from the users using the mobile and web app who connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.
\nA taxi company deals with incoming requests from customers and then forwards them to their drivers, if the drivers don’t have smartphones. The taxi drivers/companies pay a portion of their Wasselni-linked earnings back to the company.
\nWasselni also works as social network, allowing users to follow each other, find their friends’ trips, add comment on each other’s posts, and even ask to join their friends’ trips and rides.
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\nAs the first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally in the kingdom, Fahad Albutairi is very much a pioneer in his field. He honed his comedic style and craft as a student at University of Texas, Austin, where he studied geophysics.
\nHe worked for a time at Saudi Aramco, but is now a full-time writer and comedian, making his debut in Manama in 2008.
\nDescribed as the ‘Jerry Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia’, Albutairi is one of the founders of Saudi’s ‘new media’ movement: using YouTube as his main distribution platform.
\nAlong with a team of talents including fellow stand-up comedian Ibraheem Alkhairallah, they started a number of YouTube shows like ‘La Yekthar’, which loosely translates as ‘Zip it’. The show started out as ad-libbed monologues and soon developed into scripted episodes that averaged between two and three million hits each at its peak. They also started shows like ‘Khambalah’, ‘Temsa7LY’ and founded Telfaz11, a platform for distributing online entertainment content.
\nIn 2013, his YouTube video ‘No Woman, No Drive’ went viral with 12 million hits. Based on the Bob Marley song, the video satirises Saudi Arabia’s ban on female driving. His wife, Loujain Al Hathloul, landed in trouble with authorities for taking part in a demonstration against the ban on female drivers.
\nMore recently, Albutairi turned to acting, playing a lead role in the pan-Arab road movie ‘From A to B’, directed by Emirati Ali Mostafa, which was released earlier this year.
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33. Maryam Matar
\nDedicating her career to fight genetic diseases, Matar launched the UAE’s Down Syndrome Association and a year later the Genetic Disease Association, which she currently chairs.
\nShe regularly campaigns in colleges and universities to encourage people to be screened for common genetic disorders.
\nLast year, Matar was ranked by website Muslim Science as among the ‘Twenty Most Influential Women in Science in the Islamic World’, joining the list of “amazing pioneers, shapers and emerging champions of science after a careful evaluation of her achievements,” the website said.
\nIn an interview last year, she said she wears 11 different hats in one week, such is her involvement in a variety of organisations.
\nShe is also deputy chairperson of Dubai Cares, a board member of the Marriage Fund, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Dubai Women Establishment, Damas International Limited and the Canadian University of Dubai. Her notable achievements also include launching UAE Free of Thalassemia 2012. She has also served as director general of the Community Development Authority, and was the first woman to become under-secretary for the Ministry of Health.
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34. Ayman Hariri
\nThe second of the five children of slain Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, Ayman Hariri is involved in running Saudi Oger, one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction companies and the source of the Hariri family fortune.
\nAyman made his mark on the telecommunications sector, having worked as an engineer at satellite consortium Intelsat, and also on a family-owned South African wireless carrier, 3C, but it’s in the field of property where has forged a successful career path, as vice chairman and deputy CEO of Saudi Oger.
\nHariri has handled the construction and facilities management of multi-billion dollar projects such as Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University for Women; King Abdullah Financial District, the $480m King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, and the first privately-financed airport in the kingdom — the new $1.4bn Madinah Airport being built in a consortium with Turkey’s TAV and Al Rajhi Group.
\nHe also played a key part in delivering — on time — the academic and administration buildings of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). He is known for being one of the rare chief executives who combine a deep, hands-on knowledge of complex technology concepts, with an impressive history of entrepreneurial success. Just like his four other siblings, Ayman is a billionaire, but didn’t follow his father’s footsteps into politics, unlike his brother Saad, the former Lebanese prime minister.
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35. Abeer Abu Ghaith
\nLiving in Palestine, Abeer Abu Ghaith never settled for a standard career, and was always an activist, volunteer and social worker. Those qualities provided her with the resources and opportunities to help her realise her entrepreneurship dream.
\nJust over two years ago, she set up StayLinked, a talent broker between skilled Palestinian freelancers and businesses with project needs from all over the world that need to outsource certain services.
\nStayLinked’s model is best described as being a hybrid between crowd-sourcing, outsourcing and freelancing channels. It’s a business model that has had a wide socioeconomic impact in West Bank and Gaza\nStayLinked also led to Abu Ghaith being branded Palestine’s first female high-tech entrepreneur.
\n“Palestinian women face a lot of challenges,” Abu Ghaith told AP earlier last year. “We have plenty of qualified women in my area who have no access to jobs. As a woman, I can help and change the world in my own way, even if the society wants to confine us in the kitchen and the house.”
\nAbu Ghaith is also the country officer at Women’s Campaign International (WCI), an international organisation working in emerging democracies and post-conflict regions around the world.
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\nAuthor, war reporter, activist
\nPalestinian-Canadian author, reporter and entrepreneur, Chaker Khazaal, spent his early life living in Bourj El Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. He later emigrated to Canada after winning the Global Leader of Tomorrow Award from York University in Toronto.
\nHe released his critically acclaimed novel Confessions of a War Child in 2013, the first in a thriller-romantic trilogy of fiction inspired by true stories of refugees and war around the world, mainly in the Middle East. Khazaal travelled in war zones for interviews that inspired the three books.\nThe second of the trilogy Confessions of a War Child — Lia released last year. The third instalment — Confessions of a War Child — Sahara — is due to be released later this year.
\nBesides writing, Khazaal formed a group of professional refugees from around the world offering them contractual remote employment in e-marketing, graphics, social media management, and different web solutions. His role in the business is to recruit clients and build the marketing strategies. Among the first clients was the Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Picture, Omar.
\nKhazaal’s career as an author and entrepreneur made him a popular and influential figure on social media, with many considering him a voice for refugees and young writers around the world.
\nEarlier this year, he began writing regular articles for The Huffington Post on world events, politics, and the Middle East.
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37. Dr Rajaa Al Sanea
\nArts and entertainment
\nRajaa Al Sanea shot to fame in 2005 when her book, Girls Of Riyadh, was published in Lebanon.
\nTwo years later it was translated into English and before long was being nominated for awards across the globe. In 2009, it was long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award. It became a bestseller across much of the Middle East and continues to be popular across the world. It was, however, not well received by everyone.
\nIn her native country, Saudi Arabia, the book was immediately banned and there remains a distinctive divide in opinion of the novel, which was heavily criticised in the Saudi media.
\nWhile Al Sanea is held as a role model by liberals, the conservative sections of Saudi society have heavily criticised the book for being unconventional.
\nThe book, written in the form of e-mails, recounts the personal lives of four young Saudi girls, and describes the relationship between men and women in Saudi Arabia. In the book, the girls are looking for love, but are stymied by a system that allows them only limited freedoms and has very specific expectations and demands.
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38. Talal Al Gaddah
\nMAG Property Development
\nTalal Al Gaddah runs one of Dubai’s most prominent developers, part of the city’s MAG Group. Heading the company’s six departments; finance, project management, sales, marketing, administration and legal, Al Gaddah’s ambition is to lead the firm to become one of the top five developers in the UAE, and eventually expand internationally to locations such as the Far East, the US and Europe. The company has already completed a series of high-rise towers and hotel apartment buildings in Dubai, and is working on developing more projects in Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Sharjah.
\nThe MAG Group was formed three decades ago in Abu Dhabi in 1978. Since then, it has evolved to become a powerful and vibrant group embracing more than 50 companies and branches covering almost every country in the world and employing over 2,000 personnel. The activities of the group cover different areas such as the commercial, real estate, service and industrial sectors.
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39. Mohamed El Dahshan
\nCulture and society
\nA regional economist with the Africa Development Bank, El Dahshan divides his time between Cairo and Abidjan in Ivory Coast. He has previously worked with the Centre for International Development at Harvard University and consulted for global organisations including the World Bank, UNDP, IDRC, and UNIDO, as well as for the governments of Palestine, Dubai and others. He studies issues of private sector development, investment and entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on post-conflict countries, and is just as well regarded for his writings on the subject. He has a regular slot in Foreign Policy magazine’s Transitions blog and has written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Guardian, Hurriyet Daily News, among others. A proud Cairene, 31-year-old El Dahshan is an outspoken commentator on political unrest in Egypt — he reveals on his Twitter profile: “I get held at gunpoint by police/army/militias a lot”.
\nEl Dahshan is a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. He has a BSc in economics and political science from Cairo University, a DEA in international economic relations from Sciences Po in Paris, and an MPA in international development from Harvard.
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40. Reem Khouri
\nUp until December 2013, Reem Khouri had a high-profile job at logistics giant Aramex, before she left to start up her own company, Kaamen.
\nKaamen — the Arabic word for untapped potential — is a social enterprise that designs and implements shared interests-based investments and programmes for corporations and measures their impact on the company’s bottom line and growth.
\nKaamen focuses on finding the untapped opportunity for profitable social impact, where the interests of a corporation meet the interests of communities, and then designs investments and programmes, making enterprises leaders and beneficiaries of social progress. Khouri works in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine and has plans to move into Asia and potentially the US. Working with Fadi Ghandour at Aramex, Khouri developed a passion for supporting entrepreneurs. She supports accelerators Gaza Sky Geeks and Fast Forward in Palestine, as well as the MIT Arab business plan competition, the NYU Abu Dhabi hackathon for social good and she’s also a mentor with Oasis 500.
\nKhouri also serves on the board of directors of Ruwwad for Development, a regional not-for-profit private sector-led community empowerment organisation that helps disadvantaged communities overcome marginalisation through youth activism, civic engagement and education in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt.
\nIn addition to this she serves on several boards, such as the Runwad Micro Venture Fund and Ethaar Journeys, as well as Nakhweh.
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41. Amira Yahyaoui
\nA Tunisian-born human rights campaigner, Amira Yahyaoui was a brave, active and outspoken opponent of former president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.
\nYahyaoui had her passport revoked for four years prior to the outbreak of the Arab Spring movement because she refused to be silenced. Her cousin, Zouhair, was jailed for publishing the satirical website TUNeZINE. He died in 2005 after being persecuted and tortured by the government for his objections to censorship in Tunisia.
\nYahyaoui fled to France and became a student there while participating in criticism of the Tunisian regime. She was stateless for several years, but after the fall of president Ben Ali, she was able to gain a passport from the Tunisian embassy and returned to Tunisia.
\nUpon her return, she founded the NGO Al Bawsala (‘The Compass’ in Arabic), which monitors the National Constituent Assembly’s legislative work and tweets what assembly members are saying in parliament. Al Bawsala also acts as a political advocacy for the empowerment of elected politicians, the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and provides support for the development of citizen initiatives.
\nThe work of Al Bawsala has helped maintain a relationship of trust with elected officials and institutions, and thereby has strongly contributed to helping the latter avoid being rejected by the people of Tunisia. In 2014 she became a Meredith Greenberg Yale World Fellow and was awarded the conflict prevention prize by the Fondation Chirac.
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42. Mouteea Murad
\nArts and entertainment
\nBorn in 1977 in Homs, Syria, Mouteea Murad lives and works in Sharjah. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus, in 2001. His works are housed in private and public collections internationally, including the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. The artist’s recent solo exhibitions include Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2013, 2011); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2011); and Ayyam Gallery Damascus (2010). Murad’s entrance into art was marked by monochromatic, expressionist compositions that explored the anguish of modern man. In 2007, however, he emerged with a renewed outlook that redirected his painting style.
\nAbandoning his initial aesthetic, he began to explore colour relativity, spatiality, and the visual dynamism of geometric forms by adhering to the non-objective directives of Islamic art, which references the splendour of the natural world by privileging abstraction and its ability to ignite the senses.
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43. Ali Al Habsi
\nFrom the second tier of football in Oman, Ali Al Habsi went on to become the first player from the Arabian Gulf to play in the English Premier League.
\nThe Omani goalkeeper also became the first player from his country to play football in Europe when he left Al Nasr in Salalah to join Norwegian club Lyn Oslo.
\nA former fireman at Muscat International Airport, Al Habsi spent three seasons in Norway before earning a move to the then Premier League side Bolton Wanderers. He made his Premier League debut against his current club Wigan Athletic in 2008, and eventually joined them in 2010.
\nAt international level, Al Habsi is the current captain of the Oman national team, and has made over 100 appearances for his country. A fans’ favourite, he has been regularly linked with a move back to the Premier League. Al Habsi is also the co-founder of Safety First, a road safety organisation in Oman that aims to reduce deaths as a result of traffic accidents.
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44. Moustafa Fahour
\nIslamic Museum of Australia
\nCulture and Society
\nThe purpose of the Islamic Museum of Australia was built around the idea of an “Islamic Exploratorium” and is envisaged as a vanguard of interactive and participatory experiences.
\nIt aims to create a culture of awareness and understanding through innovative environments, programmes and tools that help people nurture their curiosity about Islam and build bridges of understanding between cultures.
\nThis initiative has taken on even more importance after the café hostage crisis in Sydney in December cast a negative image of Muslims in the country.
\nThe driving force behind the museum is founder Moustafa Fahour, who has a string of accolades to his name. He was voted as one of Melbourne’s Top 100 by The Age and also Muslim Man of the Year 2011 and Volunteer of the Year 2011 by the Australian Muslim Achiever Awards (AMAA).\nOn January 26, Fahour was recognised with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the visual arts and cross-cultural relations, one of the highest honours in Australia.
\nAside from the museum, Fahour, who was raised in Preston (UK) and is the son of Lebanese immigrants, has over 11 years of experience in the financial services and banking industry and is currently executive general manager at international contractor Habtoor Leighton Group.
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45. Issam AbdulRahim Kazim
\nDubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM)
\nTravel and tourism
\nEmirati Issam AbdulRahim Kazim is the chief executive of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), the new body responsible for the branding, promotion and marketing of Dubai to the world.
\nWith Dubai’s tourism vision to attract 20 million visitors per year by 2020, the corporation is dedicated to working with private and public sector tourism and commerce partners to promote Dubai’s position as a leading international business and leisure destination around the world.
\nUnder his remit he oversees the development and activities of the corporation, which was established in December 2013, as an affiliate of the Dubai Government’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
\nKazim took up this post in February 2014, joining the DTCM from the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), where he was the director of DXB Live, a subsidiary of DWTC. In his role he was responsible for creating and developing strategic live events such as Dubai Sports World, Dubai Music Week and Dubai Classics.\nHe previously worked at Nakheel and Dubai Bank. One of the initiatives Kazim reportedly is keen to establish is the setting up of more tourist information centres. At present these are only located at Dubai Airport and Dubai Cruise Terminal.
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46. Mohammed Assaf
\nArab Idol winner
\nArts and entertainment
\nBorn in Libya to Palestinian parents, Assaf’s family moved to Gaza when he was four years old, where he grew up in a refugee camp.
\nHe rose to fame as the winner of the second season of Arab Idol, broadcast by the MBC network across the region. However, Assaf never forgot his roots and two years ago he was named a goodwill ambassador for peace by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
\nHis rise to fame and his work supporting refugees is set to expand to an even bigger audience with news this month that his remarkable story is set to take to the silver screen and is being made into a feature film by an Oscar-nominated director.
\nA snippet of the film, which was shot in Jordan and was directed by Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu Assad, whose 2005 film ‘Paradise Now’ and 2013’s ‘Omar’ were nominated for Academy Awards, was unveiled on MBC on March 23.
\nWith his rising profile politics could be his next field as he was appointed an ambassador of culture and arts by the Palestinian government and was offered a position with “diplomatic standing” by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
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47. Omar Samra
\nTravel and tourism
\nAt the age of 16, British-born Egyptian Omar Samra climbed his first mountain in Switzerland. The experience gave him the adventure bug and in May 2007 he achieved his childhood dream and become the first Egyptian and youngest Arab to scale the 8,850-metre-high summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest point. After his record-breaking feat, he entered the banking and private equities world in London and Hong Kong, working 15-hour days behind a desk. However, in the midst of the worst financial crisis the world has ever seen, and as he was climbing yet another mountain in the depth of the West Papuan jungle, he decided to quit the financial sector.
\nDeciding to marry his passion for travel and entrepreneurship, Samra decided, against the advice of many, to hand in his notice.\nHe spent over three years on the road, visiting over 80 countries and over 200 destinations.
\nAfter graduating with a degree in economics from the American University in Cairo and obtaining an MBA from London Business School in entrepreneurship, Samra leveraged his experiences by developing Wild Guanabana, a company which specialises in designing and creating ethical adventure travel experiences in the wild for companies in 15 countries across six continents.
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48. Nayla Al Khaja
\nArts and entertainment
\nNayla Al Khaja is the first woman film producer and director in the UAE. Upon graduating from Dubai Women’s College with a degree in mass communication in 1999, a stint with Arabian Radio Network hosting her own travel show, which was a ratings hit, developed her passion for filmmaking.
\nShe applied to Ryerson University in Canada, which runs a well-known filmmaking programme, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in image studies — filmmaking in 2005. Al Khaja is the CEO of D-SEVEN Motion Pictures, a marketing and design agency that offers full media campaign and corporate branding services. Established in 2005, the company has achieved a lot in the last decade. She partnered with iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz to produce the complete Men’s Vogue photo shoot for tennis champion Roger Federer in Dubai, and she also handled the campaign for the Special Olympics (Middle East and North Africa) in 2006 and 2008.
\nHer films have always been controversial in nature, covering topics such as dating and child abuse. In 2007, she was awarded best Emirati filmmaker at Dubai International Film Festival and won the British Council’s International Young Screen Entrepreneur Award in 2010. She has also set up the Scene Club, which screens independent films in the UAE on a regular basis and has over 9,000 registered members.
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49. Philippe Ghanem
\nVice chairman and executive managing director
\nBanking and finance
\nPhilippe Ghanem was one of the key forces behind the conception and creation of ADS Securities, one of the world’s fastest growing forex traders.
\nBased in Abu Dhabi, the firm is the largest brokerage by volume in the Middle East and one of the fastest growing forex and investment companies globally. Institutional clients include banks, global and regional hedge funds, asset managers, investment banks and non-bank financial institutions. These are equally split between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
\nGhanem has a wealth of experience in both establishing and running successful entrepreneurial ventures in the financial services sector. Prior to ADS Securities, he was the founder, director and chairman of Squared Financial Services, a financial brokerage firm based in Dublin, Ireland.
\nHis expertise is in banking and financial instruments such as bonds, equities, mutual funds, commodities, derivatives, and cash and treasury management. He also has experience in trading a wide range of financial instruments as well as core asset and fund management. Ghanem was born in Switzerland and he received his bachelor of science in business administration from the International University in Geneva in 2002.
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50. Zeina Abou
\nCulture and society
\nFounded in 2009, Palestyle’s main line is luxury handbags which are sold in high-end boutiques in the UAE and elsewhere in the region, employing Palestinian refugees to help produce the items, and investing 5 percent of its total sales into development projects in refugee camps.
\nBased in Dubai’s Motor City, the company has empowered more than 400 refugee women by using their traditional embroidery which is distributed with each and every one of the company’s bags.
\nA Dubai resident for the past 22 years, Palestinian Abou Chaaban studied and worked in the emirate before taking the bold step into entrepreneurship.\nA three-year stint at Procter & Gamble was enough to convince her that the corporate world was not where she saw herself, instead yearning “to do something by myself in social development”.
\nAbou Chaaban graduated from the American University in Dubai in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in e-business and she was honoured with the exclusive European Council of International Schools Award upon her graduation from Al Mawakeb School in 2000.
\nShe has also led social outreach programmes and summer camps for underprivileged children with Manar Iman Charity School in UAE and with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
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51. Kais Salman
\nArts and entertainment
\nBorn in Tartous, Syria in 1976, Kais Salman lives and works in Beirut. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus in 2002. His paintings are currently housed in private collections throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Solo and group exhibitions include the Alexandria Biennale (2014); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2014, 2010); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2015, 2014, 2012); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2014, 2011, 2010); Damascus Museum of Modern Art (2009); The Park Avenue Armory, New York (2008); Carthage Festival for Coast Mediterranean Sea Artists, Tunisia (2005). In May 2010, a work from his Fashion Series appeared on the cover of the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Edition magazine, a first for an Arab artist.
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52. Elissa Freiha
\nBanking and finance
\nOne half of the founding partners of WOMENA, Elissa Freiha is changing the face of investment in the MENA region. The Emirati of Lebanese and American descent launched the women-only investment platform with her partner Chantalle Dumonceaux in 2013 to provide Gulf-based high-net-worth women with a supportive, professional network and dependable guidance to invest in new companies. Having previously worked in publishing, food and beverage, and entertainment, Freiha oversees the marketing, business development, sales, events, and member satisfaction elements of the business. WOMENA hosts monthly meetings with its members, who are introduced to pre-screened entrepreneurs, offering both sides the opportunity to form a strong investment partnership.
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53. Habib Haddad
\nHabib Haddad is a serial entrepreneur, having founded Wamda, a networking platform for entrepreneurs, and Yamli.com. His various endeavours have not gone unnoticed; the World Economic Forum recognised Haddad as a Young Global Leader in 2009 and he currently serves on the Global Agenda Council on fostering entrepreneurship. He also advises several startups and non-profits. Haddad holds a bachelor of computer and communication engineering degree from the American University in Beirut and a masters in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California. Haddad also co-founded INLET (International Network of Lebanese Entrepreneurs and Technologists), an organisation geared towards promoting entrepreneurship and leadership for the Arab world.
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54. Hisham Samawi
\nArts and entertainment
\nHisham Samawi spent his first two years in Dubai working in business development and strategy for Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holdings. In 2008, he recognised an opportunity to develop the art scene in the region and left Tatweer to partner with his cousin, Khaled Samawi, to establish Ayyam Gallery, one of the region’s leading art institutions. Opening their first space in Damascus, the gallery has grown steadily over the years to include two spaces in Dubai, one in Beirut and its latest on New Bond Street in London.
\nAyyam Gallery now represents many of the leading artists from around the Arab world and Iran. In addition to hosting exhibitions, the gallery holds a series of auctions called The Young Collectors Auction, and has a publishing house that produces a wide range of artists’ books and catalogs.
\nRecognising another opportunity and gap in the regional landscape in 2014, Samawi brought over the famous New York restaurant Clinton Street Baking Company and opened its first location in the region at Burj Views in Downtown Dubai. His first endeavour into the food and beverage industry, the restaurant has quickly established itself as Dubai’s go-to place for all-day breakfast and high quality casual dining. Having signed the master franchise for the MENA region Samawi is looking to grow and develop the brand.
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55. Mehdi Benatia
\nHow many footballers can you name who have turned down offers from Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea? There’s just the one — Mehdi Benatia.
\nBorn in Courcouronnes, France, to a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother, Benatia started his career at Marseille in 2003 and signed his first professional contract with the French club in 2005. Following spells at Tours, Lorient and Udinese, he signed Roma on a five-year contract in 2013, for a deal worth close to $15m.
\nHe made his name with goals against Sampdoria, Bologna, Catania and Chievo Verona, ending the 2013 season with a respectable five goals in 33 games.
\nLate last year, he made global headlines when it was revealed Roma needed cash and had signed a $30m deal to sell him to German side Bayern Munich.
\n“I discussed my future with Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini. He told me that the club wanted to hold on to me, but that they needed the money from a sale. That annoyed me, because I initially wanted to stay put. But let it be clear, I was happy to join Bayern Munich. I like Munich – even if it’s a bit cold here,” he told the Daily Mail. He also plays for the Moroccan national team.
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56. Minoush Abdel-Meguid
\nBanking and finance
\nMinoush Abdel-Meguid has more than 16 years of experience in the field of investment banking and investment management. Before setting up Union Capital, she served as assistant to the chairman and head of corporate finance at Egypt’s Capital Market Authority between December, 2005 and December, 2007. In her capacity as corporate finance head, Abdel-Meguid has been part of the team leading the introduction of a new takeover chapter as well as working on a comprehensive reform plan for the division. She has also just been selected as Young Global Leader for 2015 by the World Economic Forum.
\nShe also served as a manager in the investment banking division of HSBC Investment Bank Egypt from November 1999 to April 2004 and prior to that she was a financial analyst at the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs International, London, UK.
\nAbdel-Meguid is also the founding president of the Egyptian Young Bankers Association, an Egyptian non-governmental organisation that caters for the progression of young bankers and served as chairperson of the board and editor-in-chief of the Egyptian Banker publication until 2008.
\nShe was the sole Egyptian participant at the US State Department’s International Visitors’ Leadership Program in 2005 with a focus on “Women in Economic Development”.
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57. Dania Al Jaabari
\nCulture and society
\nPalestinian Dania Husni Al Jaabari beat 3,000 participants from more than 15 countries in the Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic Competition in Singapore last December, to come first.
\nShe had to solve 240 maths problems in six minutes to earn her crown. The Singapore Mathematical Olympiad is the largest and oldest mathematics competition in Singapore and each year it attracts thousands of students. Al Jaabari first joined a mental-arithmetic programme two years ago.
\nAged 11, she travelled to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where she competed with 2,500 children from all over the world and came second.
\nThe mental-arithmetic programme is an initiative where students practise using what is called a ‘both-hand abacus mental-arithmetic’ teaching method. They are not allowed to use any outside help such as computers or calculators to solve the problems. Using only their minds to solve the mathematical equations quickly and accurately, the method helps train both the right and left sides of the brain.
\n“It is fun and I don’t mind spending several hours every day practising,” Al Jaabari has said recently. She also says her favourite subject is science and she is aiming to become a doctor when she grows up. Her achievements are made all the more memorable by the fact she lives in Gaza.
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58. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin
\nCalifornia-born Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is of Palestinian origin and while his parents are Kuwaiti he was raised in a number of countries, including Kuwait, Egypt, the US and Austria. He studied at the American International School of Vienna, Austria and Cairo American College.
\nHe started his career in the United States as a news producer with the New York Times in 2008. He then worked at Qatari news channel Al Jazeera English for six months. His stint in Doha also saw him work as a reporter and producer for the Doha Film Institute, during which time he helped launch the first Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
\nIn 2011, Shihab-Eldin created, produced and co-hosted Al Jazeera English’s social media show, The Stream. Shihab-Eldin holds a bachelor of science in communication from Boston University and in 2007 he graduated as a master of science in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is still associated with the institution as he works as an adjunct professor teaching digital media. He has blogged for the Huffington Post since 2008, the same year his master’s digital media project earned him a Webby Award for “Defining Middle Ground: The Next Generation of Muslim New Yorkers.”
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59. Yassin Alsalman (The Narcicyst)
\nArts and entertainment
\nYassin Alsalman, who goes by the name ‘The Narcicyst’ or ‘Narcy’, is an Iraqi-Canadian journalist and hip hop MC, born in Dubai in 1982. Starting his musical work in the group Euphrates, The Narcicyst went solo in 2004. His music often questions the situation of Arab and Muslim migrants and the stereotypes they encounter, and he has not been afraid to tackle taboo subjects such as the Arab Spring and the so-called war on terror.
\nThe Narcicyst has performed with the likes of Public Enemy, Talib Kweli and Kanye West. In 2009, he appeared in the movie ‘City of Life’ playing the role of Khalfan, an Emirati teenager. In 2013, he established a creative agency, The Medium, to provide a platform for independent artistic endeavours of Arab artists.
\nAlsalman’s parents are originally from Basra, a city located on the Shatt Al Arab river in southern Iraq between Kuwait and Iran, but emigrated to the UAE in the 1970s. When he was five, his family moved to Montreal, Canada, but Alsalman came back to Dubai to complete his high school education. Having returned to Canada in 2000, he earned his bachelor degree in political science and communication studies from Concordia University, and a master’s degree in hip-hop and identity in the Media Studies Department at Concordia University (his thesis project was entitled “Fear of An Arab Planet: The Diatribe of a Dying Tribe”).
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60. Hayv Kahraman
\nArts and entertainment
\nHayv Kahraman is an Iraqi artist and painter who lives and works in the US. Born in 1981 in Baghdad, Kahraman’s family fled the city during the Gulf War and moved to Sweden when she was 11years old. A year later she took up oil painting.
\nHer latest solo show at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, “How Iraqi Are You?”, addressed that period. It included Kahraman’s autobiographical paintings on linen that referenced her early childhood in Iraq, her upbringing as a refugee in Sweden and her struggle to navigate two disparate cultural identities.
\nA graduate of the Academy of Art and Design in Florence, Italy, Kahraman has had numerous solo and collective exhibitions and her work has been included in several public collections, including North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; the Pizzuti Collection, Columbus; American Embassy, Baghdad; The Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; MATHAF Museum of Modern Art, Doha; and The Rubell Family Collection, Miami.
\nHer artwork is considered to depict the effects of war, and how they affect women, including the controversial issues of gender, honour killings and many other issues faced by women in Iraq. However, her style includes stylistic references ranging from Japanese and Arabic calligraphy art nouveau, Persian miniature and Greek iconography.
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61. Jassim Alseddiqi
\nAbu Dhabi Financial Group
\nBanking and finance
\nIn just four years of existence, starting with two people in a small office, Jassim Alseddiqi’s Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) now manages an investment portfolio worth $1.5bn (about AED5bn) in assets. In particular, it has been making waves due to its eye-catching purchases in London, where it has secured New Scotland Yard and No.1 Palace Street. ADFG is also planning to develop a large land bank on the Black Sea in Bulgaria, as well as other sites in Serbia and Montenegro.
\nOver the last four years, the company has evolved and expanded into an integrated financial services platform under the umbrella of ADFG, branching out into real estate investments and debt structuring and management. Alseddiqi is also the chairman of Integrated Capital and First Gulf Financial Services, as well as being a board member at Tourism and Development Investment Company, Qannas Investments Limited, Northacre Plc and Abu Dhabi Capital Group. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and earned a master’s in the same subject from Cornell University in the US.
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62. Wafa Makhlouf Sayadi
\nCulture and society
\nMother-of-two Wafa Makhlouf Sayadi is the founder and CEO of Proclean, an environmental company focused on household refuse collection and mechanised beach cleaning.
\nWith a loan from the Tunisian Solidarity Bank and assistance from her father, she managed to hire five employees and start the company in 2003. She now employs about 50 staffers, but the number can double depending on the needs of the project. Sayadi also has been active in encouraging other budding entrepreneurs. In 2013, she became the director of CEED Tunisia, an organisation launched to help train entrepreneurs and give them access to funding and new markets.
\nShe joined the Young CEO Center (CJD) in Tunisia as treasurer in 2005, and became president in 2011. During her CJD presidency she has initiated the first Tunisian women entrepreneur incubator, helping to boost women’s potential in opportunity-deprived parts of the country. With CJD, she has also started the Wajjahni programme which highlights young entrepreneurial success stories to inspire youth to take risks and invest in their passions. Sayadi has also acted as the chairwoman of the non-profit Enactus Tunisia.
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63. Abdallah Absi
\nAn Arab version of Mark Zuckerberg, Abdallah Absi is a college dropout from Lebanon who has nevertheless already started six companies. Among them are Rifflex and Zoomaal, the Arab world’s leading crowdfunding platform to support creativity. Zoomaal is funded by four major institutional investors and recently featured on CNN and in Forbes and the New York Times. Absi has won more than 10 awards for entrepreneurship and computer science, with the latest being top place in the Doha Venture Day event in Qatar in November 2013. He also won the Arab Thought Foundation’s Fikr 2013 in December 2013.
\nIn January 2014, he was recognised as a World Economic Forum ‘Global Shaper’ for the Beirut Hub. Later that year, Absi became a Middle East delegate of Stanford University’s AMENDS — a student community that enables the most promising youth change agents from across the Middle East, North Africa, and US to learn from each other and advance their work. In addition to organising StartUp Weekends in Beirut, Absi has founded the Entrepreneurship Club, known as e-Club. An initiative at the American University of Beirut, the club aims to create a network to connect aspiring businessmen and businesswomen with those who have more experience in the industry.
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64. Mona Seif
\nCulture and society
\nGrowing up in a family of social activists, Seif became aware of many social issues affecting her home country of Egypt from an early age. Her father is a human rights attorney who was imprisoned for five years, while her mother helped organise demonstrations against the Mubarak regime during the decades before his downfall.
\nMona’s brother Alaa Abd El Fattah was imprisoned for 45 days for his blog Manalaa, through which he used to document abuses by the Mubarak regime. Following in her family’s footsteps, Seif used social media as her tool to contribute to the 2011 Egyptian revolution and against military trials for civilian protesters.
\nHer blog is called Tahrir Diaries — Diaries Under Military Rule. She also regularly writes on her blog Ma3t. She is a member of No to Military Trials for Civilians, a group pushing for the release of those detained during the revolution. In 2012, she was a finalist for the Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, and in April 2013 it was announced Seif was also a finalist for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders presented by Human Rights Watch. When she is not busy attempting to solve Egypt’s numerous social problems, Seif — a biology graduate student — studies the BRCA1 breast cancer gene and its mutation pattern in Egyptian patients.
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65. Ayah Bdeir
\nAyah Bdeir’s guiding principle is to “put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype and invent”.
\nFrom the first prototype developed in 2008 to the 2011 launch of littleBits, an open source library of modular electronics that snap together with magnets, her concept has managed to make technology accessible across all disciplines and ages. The company, which is based in New York with funding from investors such as True Ventures, Foundry Group, and Two Sigma, has sold hundreds of thousands of units in about 80 countries.
\nIn 2011, the Museum of Modern Art, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, added littleBits to its prestigious design collection. A Lebanese-Canadian, Bdeir earned a master’s of science degree from the MIT Media Lab and undergraduate degrees in computer engineering and sociology from the American University of Beirut.
\nShe has garnered numerous industry accolades, including a fellowship at Eyebeam Art + Technology Centre in New York City, as well as being named to Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream in 2014, and has spoken at TED, SXSW, Solid, and Creative Mornings. Bdeir is also the founder of Karaj, Beirut’s first non-profit lab for experimental arts, architecture and technology, and has also been a mentor on Stars of Science, the Middle East’s first reality show focusing on innovation.
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66. Mohammed Khammas
\nAl Ahli Holding Group
\nJoining the family business developed by his father Nasser, a pioneer of the UAE’s manufacturing and construction industry, Mohammed Khammas has had significant influence on the growth of Al Ahli Group (AAHG).
\nIn recent years, he has helped grow the company to become a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate of more than 30 companies present in over 25 countries, employing more than 9,000 people worldwide.
\nIn addition to managing a diverse portfolio, Khammas is the first Arab who has managed to develop and sell a multi-million-dollar game development company to the Walt Disney Company.
\nDuring this process, he has established long-term strategic alliances with the global entertainment industry’s major companies.
\nToday, AAHG’s portfolio in the entertainment industry includes Dubai Outlet Mall, Gold’s Gym International franchise rights, plus exclusive rights to publish comics and activity books belonging to Marvel, Disney, Warner Bros, DC Comics, San Rio and Comicave.
\nKhammas also formed the Young Arab Leaders Organisation (YAL), which has become a platform for a new generation of Arab thinkers from more than 30 regional countries.
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67. Mahmoud Kaabour
\nArts and entertainment
\nMahmoud Kaabour’s list of achievements seems endless. When his first movie, Being Osama, came out, the Lebanese filmmaker received four international awards and became the youngest commissioned filmmaker in the history of Canadian television when the movie was aired on 12 international channels.
\nStarting with a special jury mention for Best Arab Filmmaker at its world premiere at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, his second movie, ‘Teta, Alf Marra’ (‘Grandma, A Thousand Times’), went on to receive five major audience awards and best film awards, and also got him a New York Times ‘Critics’ Pick’.
\n‘Teta, Alf Marra’ was the first locally produced documentary to show in cinemas in the UAE, and the first Gulf documentary to become an official qualifier for the Oscars, with theatrical runs in Los Angeles and New York City.
\nHis third film, ‘Champ of the Camp’, a documentary set in the controversial labour camps across the UAE, premiered at the 10th Dubai International Film Festival in 2013, attracting over a thousand viewers. The film offers intimate access to the scenes of daily routines and emotional reflections of labourers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh on life in Dubai.
\nThrough his UAE-based company that specialises in the creation and production of non-fiction content, Veritas Films, Kabbour aims to raise the standard of corporate films and documentaries produced in the Gulf state.
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68. Nadine Hanafi
\nWith her passion to make complicated ideas simple, Nadine Hanafi founded We Are Visual, a company dedicated to turning mediocre PowerPoint presentations into visual experiences that “persuade, inspire and engage”, in 2013.
\nWe Are Visual specialises in creating highly visual and engaging presentations that help their clients tell a compelling story. Two years ago, Hanafi used her personal savings to start the company, and within 14 months, she grew the business to a six-figure revenue with no external capital. Based in Miami, the company serves an international clientele across five languages and works with professional speakers, entrepreneurs and Fortune 100 companies.
\nIn December 2014, it was voted Miami’s Most Innovative Startup and received the award for Best Design. Hanafi herself was named ‘Top US Entrepreneur under 35’ by the Empact Showcase and honoured at the United Nations. Originally from Morocco, Hanafi speaks five languages and is an avid traveller.
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69. Ghosson Al Khaled
\nChief operating officer
\nGhosson Al Khaled has climbed the corporate ladder within her family’s business step by step. ACICO started off as an industrial company specialised in autoclaved aerated concrete in 1990, and is now a business conglomerate consisting of ACICO Industrial, ACICO Construction, ACICO Cement, ACICO Real Estate and ACICO Real Estate — Hotels.
\nThe company is listed on both Kuwait and Dubai financial markets. Working for a company with such a diverse portfolio, Al Khaled quickly became aware that her engineering degree from the Kuwait University School of Civil Engineering might not be enough for effective management. So, in a bid to understand different sides of the family business, she also earned a master’s degree in building science from the University of Southern California.
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70. Hala Khayat
\nHead of sales, Middle East Modern & Contemporary Art
\nArts and entertainment
\nHala Khayat is playing a key role in the development of the Arab art market via her role as head of sales at Christie’s Dubai office. Since 2006, when the office opened, the London-based auction house has sold well over a quarter of a billion dollars worth of art. In last month’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art, Christie’s amassed $11.4m in sales, 7 percent up on the previous year. Khayat has a bachelor’s degree in design and visual communications from Damascus University and a master’s degree in design studies from University of the Arts London.
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71. Amal Al Marri
\nVisitors to Kite Surf Beach in Dubai will be familiar with SALT — a pop-up restaurant that has taken street food in the UAE to a new level. Amal Al Marri co-founded SALT alongside fellow entrepreneur Deem Al Bassam in the middle of 2014 and it has been a huge hit ever since, attracting thousands of customers, including members of the royal family who have become regulars at the vintage trailer which sells sliders and shakes. Dubai’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan and his family are often seen picking up a bite to eat, helping the restaurant to become one of the most talked-about new eateries in the region. With plans to take the SALT trailer to new locations and destinations, Al Marri’s stock is sure to rise very high very quickly.
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72. Abdullah Al Jumah
\nCulture and society
\nAbdullah Al Jumah is a Saudi traveller, author, lecturer in law at King Saud University in Riyadh and legal counsel at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia. He had studied at Bournemouth Business School in the UK before going on to pursue higher studies at Harvard Law School. Al Jumah is most famous for his book — Tales of a Saudi in Europe — a chronicle of his travels across Europe inspired by his Twitter followers, who followed his journey with him online. The book is a collection of 11 stories and anecdotes from nine different European countries. Madarek Publishing House accepted to publish the book in Arabic in 2013. His other books are Greats Without Schools and Orphans who Changed the Course of History.
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73. Mutaz Barshim
\nMutaz Barshim is following in the footsteps of Arab track and field greats like Said Aouita, Nourredine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj. Born into an athletics family — his father had also competed in athletics and was the coach of one of the Doha clubs — Barshim concentrated on the high jump from the age of 15 onwards. After breaking the Qatar indoor record in 2010, at the age of just 19, he went on to take gold in the Asian Indoor Championships in the same year. Since then he has won an impressive set of medals, both in regional and international events. The highlights include a gold medal in the World Indoor Championships in Poland in 2014, silver at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013, and bronze at the London Olympics.
\nBarshim has a personal best of 2.43 metres, achieved last year at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York. It is the second-highest jump of all time, only 2cm below the world record, which was achieved by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor in 1993. Few would bet against him taking the record this year.
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74. Nasser Wedaddy
\nCulture and society
\nThe son of a mauritanian diplomat, Nassser Wedaddy sought asylum in the US in 1999 after becoming involved in the country’s opposition movement. He has been a long-term activist against slavery in Mauritania, one of the few countries in which the practice continues. He has organised conferences for young activists in the Middle East, and has written for some of the world’s top newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
\nWedaddy came to particular prominence during the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions, during which he was seen as one of the most prominent cyber activists, collating information and distributing it to a small but influential group of policymakers and journalists. He was ranked as one of the top four most influential Twitter users of the uprisings. Weddady has worked for the American Islamic Conference as director civil rights outreach, and speaks five languages. He has also advised agencies such as the FBI on radicalisation.
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75. Hamdan Al Shamsi
\nHamdan Al Shamsi Lawyers
\nHamdan Al Shamsi is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the UAE, having founded his first company at the age of 23. Educated in the UK and having worked for some of the most recognised companies in the UAE, Al Shamsi enjoyed early success in his career. However, his passion was to always be his own boss and own his own firm. In 2011, Al Shamsi launched Hamdan Al Shamsi Lawyers and Legal Consultants, which has grown from an operation of two people to a team of over 25 within three years. It has attracted large corporations as clients, including United Technologies Company, Starz Media and German automaker Daimler-Benz.
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76. Remy Munasifi
\nArts and entertainment
\nRemy Munasifi — better known as GoRemy — is a bona fide internet celebrity whose YouTube channel has garnered tens of millions of hits. The stand-up comedian was born in Washington to an Iraqi father and a Lebanese mother, and graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia in 2002. Munasifi’s antics on YouTube — on which he posted spoof rap songs about the relative merits of tabbouleh, hummus and so on. His comedic alter ego, Habib Abdul Habib, has joked about matters like US airport screening, and he has performed several times at the New York Arab American Comedy Festival.
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77. Mohammed Saeed Harib
\nArts and entertainment
\n\nFreej rapidly become a cult cartoon phenomenon when it first aired back in 2006. Featuring four Emirati grandmothers grappling with Dubai’s speedy transition into modernity, the show has now run for eight seasons, and has been described as the Arabic version of ‘The Simpsons’.
\nDubai’s Mohammed Saeed Harib came up with the concept while studying at Northeastern University in Boston, before spending three years pitching it to potential backers. He founded Lammtara Pictures in 2005, which produced the show. From billboards, to flydubai’s in-flight safety video, and even to live stage shows, Freej’s characters are a common sight around the Gulf. Next up for Harib, alongside a new series of Freej, is a show called Mandoos, which aims to teach children about local history, culture and their Arabic heritage. He has also worked on an animated adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, and is helping with an Arabic language comedy feature for Abu Dhabi’s Image Nation.
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78. Ahmad Alhendawi
\nUN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth
\nCulture and society
\nJust over two years ago, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon appointed the global agency’s first ever envoy on youth. The man who took the role was Jordanian national Ahmad Alhendawi, the co-founder for Youth for Democracy Network at the Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture. Internationally, he is a co-founder of the International Youth Council, based in New York. Despite his age, Alhendawi already has an impressive list of accomplishments; he has served as the youth policy adviser for the Arab League in Cairo, and as youth programme associate at the UN Population Fund in Iraq. Alhendawi has a Master’s Degree in Advanced European and International Relations from the Institut Europeen in Nice, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems from the Al Balqa Applied University in Jordan. Since taking on his role at the UN, he has focused on several issues, including climate change, and is also working on implementing the World Programme for Youth.
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79. Fahd Hariri
\nBanking and finance
\nFahd Hariri is the youngest son of the former Lebanese prime minister and business magnate Rafiq Hariri. While studying an architecture degree in Paris, Hariri opened an interior design shop just outside the French capital that sells furnishings to Saudi Arabia. With an estimated net worth of just over a billion dollars, Hariri’s expertise lies in property and construction. He has previously served as chairman of Saudi Oger’s subsidiary in Dubai. Hariri is also the president of Har Investment Fund, and a member of the advisory council at Lutetia Capital SAS.
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80. Futaim Al Falasi
\nBetter known as Taim to her listeners, Futaim Al Falasi is an online media personality who shot to fame in the digital world with her radio show, Taim Show. With tens of thousands of listeners across the Middle East, Falasi offers a mixture of music and conversation, a recipe she developed during her time at university.
\nIt was while studying for her visual communications Bachelor degree at Zayed University that Falasi put together her first show from her bedroom with only a microphone and a laptop. Later, as a member of twofour54’s Creative Lab community, she honed her skills and the rest, as they say, is history. Her other endeavours include humanitarian campaigns and an online entertainment magazine. Her celebrity interviews have been a hit on YouTube, reaching more than one million viewers.
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81. Hassan Al Damluji
\nHead of Middle East
\nBill and Melinda Gates Foundation
\nCulture and society
\nHassan Al Damluji runs Middle East relations for the largest private foundation in the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With an endowment of $42.3bn, the foundation aims to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty worldwide, as well as to expand educational opportunities and access to IT at home in the US. While the foundation concentrates more on Sub Saharan Africa, South Asia and parts of China, the Middle East is also a key area of focus, not only due to parts of the region that are poor, but also due to the solutions that richer nations can provide. For example, the Gulf countries have given heavily to the foundation’s GAVI Alliance, which aims to expand childhood immunisation in poorer parts of the world. Prior to taking on his position at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Al Damluji spent four years working as an engagement manager at McKinsey. He has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, and a double first in Classics and Arabic from Oxford.
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82. Khalil Beschir
\nKhalil Beschir is one of the Arab world’s most famous racing drivers. Although he never made it to the hallowed status of the Formula One paddock, the Lebanese hotshot was the first Arab to race in a single-seater world championship. Between 2005 and 2008, he raced for A1 Team Lebanon in the now-defunct A1 Grand Prix Series. In 2009, he was reportedly testing for F1 teams, although a deal never came about. Beschir began his racing career in karting, before making the move into Formula Three. Since retiring from the sport, he has been working as a commentator and pundit for BeIN Sports.
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83. Ramzi Jaber
\nCulture and society
\nRamzi Jaber is the co-founder of Visualizing Palestine, an infographics project that helps identify, report and publicise stories about his home country. Jaber quit his job as a civil engineer in Jerusalem to co-organise the TEDxRamallah event in 2009, and decided to set up the non-profit with co-organiser Joumana Al Jabri.
\nVisualizing Palestine tells powerful, rights-based narratives of Palestine andIsrael using data and creative visuals; stories such as the unfit drinking water in Gaza, the ongoing displacement of Palestinians, and the imprisonment of Palestinian civilians without charge or trial. The visualizations have been used in books, online publications, universities, subway billboards, and even used in classes to help design curriculums. They have been featured in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Daily Beast, and recently was awarded at the Ars Electronica Festival in Austria. In addition, many requests have come their way offering to pay for more graphics, including by Amnesty International, Oxfam, and the United Nations. Jaber is also co-founder, along with Jillian C York, of onlinecensorship.org (OC), a space where communities crowdsource instances of censorship enacted by private online platforms. OC has recently won the Knight News Challenge.
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84. Sherine Abdel Wahab
\nArts and entertainment
\nSherine Abdel Wahab — more often known as just Sherine — needs no introduction from the 1.8 million who follow her on Twitter, and her 5.8 million Facebook fans. Despite dropping out of the Egyptian Music Insititute in her second year of study, Sherine kicked off her career in 2000 with her debut single Ah Ya Leil, and has since released a series of studio albums. She signed a recording deal with Rotana in 2007, and also featured on the charity hit ‘Bokra’, alongside a host of other Arab music stars. Most recently, she has been plagued by controversy; she was booed off stage for expressing her support for Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, in 2013, and was sentenced to six months in jail (plus a fine) after a legal dispute with fellow singer Sherif Mounir. Mounir later dropped the charges. Sherine is currently working on her first TV show.
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85. Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon
\nOne of Qatar’s most well-known and respected residents, Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon founded perhaps the country’s most popular digital network of websites which include brands such as iLoveQatar.net, Qatar Events, Qatar News, and a fast growing YouTube content network. His content network includes online programs such as QTips, Mr. Q Visits, Karak Time, Raqami TV, and Top 5 Everything. He remains as chief executive of the network, and is also the founder and CEO of Haroon United Group (HUG), a holding company that has interests in brands as diverse as Shake Shake, King Koil, Carrot Social, and investments in various startups. He has also recently taken on a new role as executive director for marketing and communications at Qatar Stars League, the country’s top football league.
\nAs well as running his own companies, Al Haroon is also known for his role as head of innovation and interactive at Vodafone Qatar, helping to develop new interactive ways of engaging with customers. In addition to all of that, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by government ministry ictQatar in 2011, Young Achiever of the Year by Arabian Business in 2014, is an ambassador for Qatar’s National Cancer Programme, a board member of the Internet Society (ISOC) and vice president of the Entrepreneurs Organization (Qatar).
\nHis latest endeavour is focused on the creation of a creative hub that provides the resources and space for talented people to bring their ideas to life. The project includes a video studio for up and coming Youtubers, a sound studio for musicians, and a collaboration space for artists to work together as well as showcase their works. “I would love for Qatar to be considered an admired nation, a country that the world can be proud of, and that people from all over can call home,” Al Haroon says.
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86. Lama Younis
\nHissah Enrichment Centre
\nUAE (Saudi Arabia)
\nCulture and society
\nAn academic high achiever who recently entered the world of entrepreneurship, Lama Younis is vocal in her belief that individuals, families and communities can be transformed through empowerment, and has put her money firmly where her mouth is.
\nThe Hissah Enrichment Centre — named in honour of Younis’ mother — was launched in December 2013 with the aim of enriching interpersonal skills, developing personal empowerment, and improving social relationships on personal and professional levels for adults, youths, and children.
\nYounis began her career in forensic psychology, taking a degree at Effat University, followed by a double masters in criminology and forensic psychology at Middlesex University in London — the first woman from the Middle East to take the course. She then took a PhD in international child studies at Birkbeck College, also in London, as well as yet another degree in post-traumatic stress disorder.
\nYounis is now using her considerable talents to help others improve their lives. “As a Saudi woman, what I’m doing is something new, and it’s a challenge for me to stand up in society and talk about it,” she told us last year. “It’s not something women do in everyday life. Not everybody supported me — still don’t support me — but what matters is to have passion and love for what you do.”
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87. Mishaery Al Afasy
\nCulture and society
\nWith well over six million followers on Twitter and his own TV channel, Mishary Al Afasy is well known throughout the Islamic world for his recitations of nasheeds and passages from the Quran.
\nThe Kuwaiti imam studied at the College of the Quran and Islamic Studies at the Islamic University of Madinah. There, he specialised in the 10 readings and translations of the holy book of Islam. He is currently the imam of the Masjid Al Kabir (Kuwait’s Grand Mosque) and leads Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan every year.
\nIn 2007, Al Afasy travelled to the US and recited at the Islamic Center of Irvine in California, Islamic Institute of Orange County in California, and the Islamic Center of Detroit in Michigan. He also led over 60,000 worshippers during Friday prayers at the Dubai World Trade Centre in 2012, as part of the second day of the Dubai International Peace Convention.
\nThe 39-year-old has been certified by several Quran scholars, including Ahmed Abdulaziz Al Zaiat, Ibrahim Al Samanodei and Abdurarea Radwan. In 2008, he was awarded the first Arab Creativity Oscar by the Arab Creativity Union in Egypt.
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88. Tima Shomali
\nActress, writer, producer
\nArts and entertainment
\nTima Shomali’s journey into TV started when she co-wrote the Jordanian hit comedy show ‘Bath Bayakha’, in which she also made her debut as the lead comedy actress.
\nShe then opened her own production company, Filmizion Productions, from which she produced and acted in her series, ‘Female Show’, alongside Jordanian comedy actor Rajae Qawas.
\n‘Female Show’ reached a quarter million views in the first 48 hours of Ramadan in 2013. It was named one of the top five shows in the Arab world. Shortly after, she branched out into drama by producing the TV series Zain. The 30-year-old has a bachelor of arts degree in business administration and finance and was granted an MFA scholarship from The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, where she majored in screenwriting and producing.
\nShe has been invited as a keynote speaker by Tina Brown to the annual Women in the World Summit 2015 (which is annually hosted by Tina Brown and Meryl Streep) in New York City. Currently, Shomali hosts the weekly comedy talk show ‘DardaChat’, which shows on Abu Dhabi’s Emarat TV.
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89. Diala Makki
\nArts and entertainment
\nTelevision presenter Diala Makki was born in Iran and raised in Beirut. Her TV career first started in Lebanon, where she hosted a fashion programme directed towards young people. She then moved to Dubai in 2004 to become a reporter at Dubai One. Today, Makki hosts her own talk show, ‘Mashaheer’, on Dubai TV.
\nShe has covered red carpet events and major film festivals, and has interviewed the likes of Angelina Jolie, Karl Lagerfeld, and Prince Harry. Recently, she covered the Dubai International Film Festival, Paris Haute Couture Week, and IWC Love of Cinema alongside Cate Blanchett.
\nMakki is good friends with Syrian designer Rami Al Ali, and was the face of his 2012 bridal couture collection. She has acted in two movies by Emirati director Ali Mostafa: ‘La Tahkom Ala Mowdao Min Khelal Al Sora’ (2013) and ‘Rise’ (2014). The TV personality is considered a style icon in the Middle East, with 136,000 followers on her Instagram account.
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90. Sami Khoreibi
\nPalestinian entrepreneur Sami Khoreibi successfully founded Candax Inc., the publicly listed energy company in Toronto, before co-founding Enviromena in Abu Dhabi in October 2007.
\nThe company has since grown to be the largest solar developer in the Middle East and North Africa region. Born in Saudi Arabia and educated in Canada, Khoreibi was only 25 years old when he first met success with Candax, which gained financing from the Canadian Investment Bank and was publicly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
\nAfter taking on the top role at Environmena, Khoreibi has been a key part of a team that has secured 35 projects in seven countries, and has won investment from the likes of Masdar, Good Energies Invest, and Zouk Ventures. Khoreibi was named “Solar Pioneer” by the Middle East Solar Industry Association in 2014 and a Young Global Leader at the 2012 World Economic Forum. His experience means he now also frequently acts as a commentator for global media houses such as Time, CNN, the BBC and the Financial Times.
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91. Humaid Mansoor
\nArts and entertainment
\nHe might be the managing director at his family’s business, Medicure Centre, but Humaid Mansoor’s passion is art. Self-taught Mansoor focuses on the abstract form and his signature style is a spontaneous brushstroke with calligraphic shapes.
\nMansoor debuted at the Pepsi Art House at the Dubai Art Beat and the Emergeast auction, held at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), during which his piece, “Midnight Secrets,” was sold. A portion of its proceedings will go to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). Recently, he’s participated at FN Designs in a group exhibition, Fisticuffs, where a punching bag was his canvas. As for his degree, he majored in marketing at the University of Concordia in Montreal, Canada.
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92. Ali Mostafa
\nArts and entertainment
\nThe British Emirati filmmaker, director and producer is perhaps best known for directing the first Emirati feature film ‘City of Life’ in 2009. According to Mostafa, he created ‘City of Life’ to show the positives and negative sides of Dubai, and to change the global perception of the city as an artificial and glamorous place. His idea delivered, as the movie ranked second in the local box office and made over AED500,000 ($136,000) in its first weekend, according to Italia Film International.
\nMostafa also directed several short movies including ‘Under the Sun’, which won the Emirates Film Competition in 2006 and was screened in the Dubai International Film Festival, Rome, Rhode Island and San Francisco International Film Festivals. He owns a production company, AFM Films, and has worked on many commercials for brands like Range Rover, Sony, and Etisalat.
\nThe 33-year-old has an MA in practical training in film technique from the London Film School. He is the Middle Eastern brand ambassador for Dunhill and is also the goodwill ambassador for Visit Britain.
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93. Najla Al Midfa
\nUnited Arab Bank
\nBanking and finance
\nNajla Al Midfa was the first ever Emirati female to join the board of an Arab bank, having landed the plum role at United Arab Bank in 2012. But Al Midfa, born in Sharjah, has a pretty impressive CV beyond the bank. She has an MBA from Stanford University, and is also on the board of both the Sharjah Business Women Council and the Young Arab Leaders.
\nShe has also had stints working for PWC, Shell, Google and McKinsey & Company, as well as the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise and Development. She runs an online careers advice office known as “Khayarat”, telling The National newspaper last year: “I will guide the students and make sure they know what they want to do, that their resumes are up-to-par, that they are prepared for interviews, but also that they are going after careers and jobs that actually suit them. It’s about exploring their passions.
\n“I was very fortunate that in each role I’ve had, I had a mentor who guided me towards the next step,” Al Midfa explains. “In many ways, I feel like I’ve come full circle and now I’m giving something back.”
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94. Huda Kattan
\nHollywood-trained celebrity make-up artist Huda Kattan has been named the top beauty blogger in the Middle East and in the top 20 worldwide. Her blog, hudabeauty.com, is widely regarded as the most influential English site of its type in the Middle East.
\nAlong with her sisters Alya and Mona, Kattan has a line of false lashes, lash glue, and false nails. They are distributed in cosmetics giant Sephora and online through the Huda beauty website.
\nThe young Iraqi, who was raised in the US, has 3.6 million followers on her Instagram page. Kattan previously worked for financial recruitment firm Robert Half, and has degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
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95. Ronnie Khalil
\nArts and entertainment
\nBorn in Miami and raised by Egyptian parents, Ronnie Khalil has headlined across four continents, taped two “Friday Night Live” Showtime Comedy specials in Dubai, including “Minorities Rule” and “New World Order”, both of which were shown across 14 countries in the Middle East, as well as “Stand-Up Australia,” airing in Australia and New Zealand.
\nHe has toured the United States as a guest performer with the “Axis of Evil”, performed with “Arabs Gone Wild”, has performed in sold-out shows across the Middle East and was part of the first-ever Amman Stand-up Comedy Festival in Jordan, as well as numerous other comedy festivals including the New York Underground, NY Arab-American, South Beach, Los Angeles and Boston Comedy Festivals.
\nHe is also the executive producer of the first ever Middle Eastern Comedy Festival in Los Angeles, premiering September 2009, with the goal of changing stereotypes in the Hollywood entertainment industry. He is also working on his first feature film, which he wrote and is starring in, to be shot in Cairo, Egypt, titled “Seducing Leyla.”
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96. Mohammed Bin Zaal
\nLush, luxurious and secluded, it’s no surprise that some of Dubai’s wealthiest residents have chosen to live in Al Barari. And with villa prices at the site based just off Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (formerly Emirates Road) starting at AED20m, it certainly takes deep pockets to secure your foothold there. The project has focused on sustainability, using recycled water from its own plant to nourish more than a million trees and shrubs. While Al Barari is a relatively new project — originally launched in 2005 - its founders, the Zaal family, are certainly not. The family can trace its roots in the region back until the early nineteenth century. Mohammed Zaal, the young CEO of Al Barari, is just the latest scion of the Zaal clan, and has just announced the latest addition to the community, the Nest. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Science at Cranfield University.
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97. Raha Moharrak
\nUAE (Saudi Arabia)
\nRaha Moharrak is the youngest Arab and the first Saudi woman ever to conquer Mount Everest. As preparation for the attempt on the world’s tallest mountatin, Moharrak climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Vinson, Mount Elbrus and Aconcagua, along with a host of other peaks on different continents. The youngest of three children, Moharrak was born in Jeddah. She graduated from the American University, Sharjah in visual communication, and is currently pursuing her MBA at Synergy University Dubai Campus with a specialisation in Women’s Leadership. According to CNN, she said that “convincing them [her family] to let her climb was as great a challenge as the mountain itself”.
\nMoharrak trained hard in her quest for the Everest. In February 2013, she reached the highest Argentine summit Aconcagua, and had been in Nepal since early April 2013 getting ready to execute her plan to conquer Mount Everest. She was joined by 34 other mountaineers and 29 guides in reaching the summit on May 18, 2013 from the Nepalese side of the mountain.
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98. Lina Ben Mhenni
\nBlogger and activist
\nCulture and society
\nLina Ben Mhenni’s English and Arabic language blog, A Tunisian Girl, was propelled into the international spotlight during the political unrest that toppled her country’s longstanding President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Mhenni’s blog published photographs and videos of those injured during the country’s unrest, taken during her regular trips to hospitals. During the Tunisian Revolution, Ben Mhenni acted as a volunteer correspondent for the international media, including France 2 and France 24.
\nShe is currently an assistant lecturer in linguistics at Tunis University, and also writes for Global Voices Online. In addition, Ben Mhenni has been awarded the Deutsche Welle International Blog Award and the El Mundo International Journalism Prize.
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99. Myriam Fares
\nArts and entertainment
\nKnown by some as ‘the Queen of the Stage’ and by others as ‘the Shakira of the Arab world’, Myriam Fares is one of the most popular singers in the region. She has over 10 million followers on Facebook, and over a million followers on Instagram. In addition to that, Fares was also the most searched-for regional celebrity on Google in 2012, which led the search engine to appoint her as its ambassador for Google Plus. She is perhaps most famous for her 2008 album, ‘Bet’oul Eh’. Not only is she a talented singer, but she’s an accomplished actor too. Fares’ first appearance in a feature film came in 2009, in ‘Silina’, which was followed up by a remake of ‘Hala and the King’. She has recently appeared in the Ramadan drama ‘Ittiham’, in which she played the character of Reem.
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100. May Habib
\nMay Habib is the founder and CEO of Qordoba, a language services and digital content company based in Dubai that works with over 650 linguists in 30 countries. She was formerly the mergers and acquisitions director at Mubadala and an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, New York.
\nBorn in rural Lebanon, the eldest of eight children, Habib emigrated with her family to Canada at the age of eight. She studied at Harvard, where she headed the news board for the college newspaper, an experience that helps her bridge the often tenuous gap between writing, profitability and speed. Qordoba employs 31 permanent staff. ‘If you had told someone you were building a tech team in the Middle East a few years ago, they would have thought you were insane! Today we’re showing we can write software here that disrupts industries,’ Habib said recently. Last year, the firm raised $1.5m in funding — from Silicon Oasis Ventures and MENA Venture Investments — which it plans to invest in product development.