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\nAs riots in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against president Hosni Mubarak took place, cardiothoracic surgeon Bassem Youssef was called into action to assist wounded protestors. But the doctor’s talents also lay in other areas.
\nYoussef’s satirical news programme, ‘The Show’, has lampooned many of Egypt’s most prominent personalities. His Youtube channel has become one of the most popular in Egypt, and he was even invited to appear on the Daily Show, which is hosted by Jon Stewart. However, Youssef’s newfound popularity has come at a cost; he was accused of defaming former president Mohammed Mursi on two occasions. After a show satirising Field Marshal Al Sisi, Egypt’s military leader, Youssef’s network dropped the show. It has been picked up by Dubai-based MBC.
\n‘The Jon Stewart of the Nile’
\n‘The Show’ was the first internet to TV conversion in the Middle East when it was picked up by ONTV.
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\nHead of Sports
\nMustafa Agha is one of the Arab world’s most prominent sports journalists. He began his career in the industry in 1981, where he started as a writer before positioning himself as a commentator in both Arabic and English.
\nHe was the first sports presenter on “Sports Magazine” show to broadcast in English, and joined MBC London in the early 1990s. Nowadays, he is head of sports at MBC, and also runs his own programme, Sada Al Malaeb.
\nMustafa Agha has more than two million followers on Twitter.
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\nKurdahi hails from the city of Acre in Palestine.
\nAfter working for the Lebanese newspaper Lisan Elhala, Kurdahi moved to Télé Liban, then in 1979 to Radio Monte Carlo. After thirteen years, he became Head of News at Radio Orient, then General Manager of MBC FM. He quit to present ‘Man Sa Yarbah Al Malyoon’, the local version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, on MBC 1 television.
\nIn 2003, Kurdahi was headhunted to present a flagship talk show on the new Al Arabiya channel and presented “Eftah Albak” (Open your Heart) on LBC.
\nKurdahi has also launched his own brand of perfume.
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\nStill known as the Arabs’ ambassador and the ‘Jewel of Lebanon’, Fairouz is considered one of the greats of the Middle East music scene. She received her education in Beirut and started her musical career as a chorus singer at the Lebanese radio station. In the 1950s, her career took off as her music became more popular and her status grew dramatically. Today, she is revered in the region and is often received by royalty and presidents. Although she has never sung in Jerusalem, the key to the holy city is among her most prized possessions.
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\nYousra is one of the Arab world’s biggest entertainment superstars.
\nBorn as Suhair Mohamed Nasim, Yousra first started making films in the 1970s, and quickly developed a strong working relationship with the legendary Egyptian actor Adel Imam. Perhaps her best-known collaborations were with director Youssef Chahine, with whom she made three films. Yousra’s portfolio also includes a number of TV shows that have been popular during Ramadan, and a supporting role in the Yacoubian Building, which had the highest budget of any Egyptian film at the time it was made in 2006.
\nShe is also a well-known singer, and has worked as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
\nBona fide superstar
\nYousra has acted in more than 50 feature films.
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\nBorn 1978, he is known by the stage names Qusai and Qusai aka Don Legend the Kamelion, is a Saudi Arabian Hip Hop Artist, singer/songwriter, record producer, rapper, television personality, and DJ. Qusai is the first Saudi professional Hip Hop Artist.
\nIn addition to his music career, Qusai has appeared on television as the co-host of Hip Hop Na on MTV Arabia with hip-hop producer Fredwreck] and as a co-host, with Raya Abirached, on MBC4’s Arabs Got Talent.
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\nNancy Ajram needs little introduction — not least to her 2.8 million followers on Twitter. The Lebanese superstar is one of the most successful Arab singers of all time, with a total of seven albums and numerous chart-topping singles to her name. In 2008 she was named the best-selling artist in the Middle East at the World Music Awards, and two years later achieved wide acclaim when she sang ‘Wavin’ Flag’ for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. US TV icon Oprah Winfrey has also branded her one of the most influential personalities in the Middle East.
\nStill only 30, Nancy Ajram has 15 years’ experience in showbusiness.
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Al Laith Hajo
\nAl Laith Hajo is a prominent Syrian television and film director.
\nHe has made his reputation by creating TV shows that cover areas that other directors fear to tread. Some of the taboo topics covered in his show include corruption and religious intolerance.
\nHajo’s most recent series was called ‘Saanoud Baad Qalil’ (We’ll Be Right Back), which was written by Rafi Wehbe. The show covered the ongoing political crisis in Syria from the viewpoint of a family that had been displaced by the violence and fled to Lebanon.
\nThe director has also been working with superstar Cyrine Abdelnour on the show ‘Loobat Al Mawt’, a remake of Hollywood drama ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’.
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Seif El Sbei
\nSeif al-Din Sbei, or better known as Seif Sbei, is another one of Syria’s crop of young directorial talent. Seif’s debut was in the classic television series ‘Bassmet el Hozn’ (The Smile of Sadness) adopted from a Syrian novel that was translated into English and became famous in the US under the title, ‘Sabriya: Damascus Bittersweet’. Five years later he began work as an assistant director as well, working on the famed political satire show Maraya (Mirrors) with the Syrian comedian Yasser al-Azma. Seif’s real talent, however, was in directing. After directing the 30-episode series Maraya 2003 for Azma, he worked on a light-hearted comedy called Joz al-Sit (The Madam’s Husband) in 2005. Seif has since moved to serious dramas, working on a string of big-name hits featuring Syria’s best acting talent.
\nSeif El Sbei has acted or directed well over a dozen Syrian television dramas.
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Ahlam Al Shamsi
\nAhlam Ali Al Shamsi, a singer commonly known simply as Ahlam, is a popular UAE-based superstar who has garnered a large following across the region thanks to her back catalogue of albums and her role on MBC’s Arab Idol judging panel alongside Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama and Egyptian composer Hassan El Shafei. She signed to the Rotana record label in 2006.
\nBorn in Abu Dhabi to Bahraini and Emirati parents, she lived the early part of her life in Bahrain before making her return to the UAE to complete her schooling and attend university.
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\nThey call him the ‘Father of Mediterranean music’ and Diab, perhaps Egypt’s most famous singer, has dominated the Arab music scene since the late 1980s.
\nDiab is believed to be the best selling Arab recording artist of all time. He was awarded the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist four times and has sold well over 50 million albums.
\nAmr Diab is perhaps the Arab world’s most famous male singer.