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4. Hassan Al Thawadi
\nSecretary General, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
\nThe pressure on Hassan Al Thawadi’s shoulders is immense — but so far the young Qatari has proved himself to be equal to every challenge that has been thrown his way. He 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. Al Thawadi 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. “We are aware that the international spotlight can place a focus on our country that can occasionally feel uncomfortable,” Al Thawadi said in a speech to the UN earlier this year. “In spite of this we are driven by the power of our conviction and the spirit of our vision that has constantly motivated us from the day we launched our bid. We are utilising this spotlight to assist in delivering the progress to which our state is steadfastly committed to.”
\nThe Sheffield University law graduate has also held the position of general counsel at the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority, and Qatar Holding. (Getty Images)
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8. Seif Abou Zaid
\nCEO, Mavericks International School
\nSeif Abou Zaid is a social and policy entrepreneur, who focuses on education and its relationship to governance. After graduating from the American University in Cairo with a degree in political science, Abou Zaid found himself drawn towards entrepreneurship. He co-founded Agency for Development and Enhancement, which aims to train young people between the ages of 15 and 35. Since then his Nabadat Foundation, which aims to use technology to improve education and enhance political awareness, has also grown from strength to strength. Abou Zaid is the CEO of Tahrir Academy, a blended learning platform that creates mind-stimulating learning experiences for more than 160,000 registered Egyptian and Arab learners, empowering them to think, choose and decide.
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9. Ahmad Belhoul
\nMinister of State for Higher Education
\nDr Ahmad Belhoul is another member of the UAE’s young generation to be handed a place in the country’s cabinet. The former CEO of renewable energy city Masdar was appointed as Minister of State for Higher Education earlier this year. Prior to joining Masdar, Belhoul was the CEO of strategy and tourism sector development at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
\nDuring 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. Belhoul 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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16. Yasmin Helal
\nA highly decorated former professional basket player for Gezira and the Egyptian national team, Yasmin Helal made the switch into entrepreneurship in 2011. With a degree in biomedical engineering from Cairo University, Helal had originally pursued a career in telecoms, but eventually joined Wild Guanabana, the company founded by Omar Samra, to assist with her fellow Egyptian entrepreneur’s education and ‘voluntourism’ initiatives. But her main claim to fame is Educate-Me, a start-up that tries to help underprivileged children go to school. She focused on this company full time in 2011, and Educate-Me’s programmes have helped hundreds since.
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17. Omar Abdulrahman
\nOmar Abdulrahman has a good claim to being Asia’s best football player – he is certainly the greatest Emirati player of his generation.\t Nicknamed Omoorry, he 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. In February last year, Abdulrahman agreed a new four-year contract with Al Ain thought to be worth AED14m a year. That appears to rule out a long-speculated move to Europe. As well as the trial with Manchester, he has also been offered a loan deal with Benfica, which he turned down.
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19. Maha Laziri
\nWhile still a student herself, Maha Laziri founded Teach4Morocco, a non-government organisation, in 2011. The entity has rebuilt a school in a remote village in the Atlas Mountains, is building a second school nearby and is working to improve the curricula across the Moroccan school system.
\nAll of the organisation’s employees are aged under 30, belong to different Moroccan institutions of higher education and share a desire to affect lasting change.
\n“We believe that while improving the system of education can involve big governmental strategies, it also necessitates small interventions,” the organisation’s team, which includes qualified educators, says on its website. “We also believe that change comes from within and we want to be part of the solution.”
\nWith so many remote villages in the North African country, many children, particularly girls, do not finish school or receive a sub-standard education. But Teach4Morocco advocates a ground up approach whereby Moroccans take an active role in improving the current educational system so that one day all Moroccan people will have a quality education.
\nThe projects have been funded by the French institute Sciences Po Aix, and have been helped by volunteers from local villages.
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22. Riyad Mahrez
\nLeicester City winger
\nIn only his second season in the English Premier League, the Algerian winger has become the new sensation everyone is talking about. His purposeful skills while in possession of the ball and nimble movements have been credited with taking Leicester City to the top of the table so far this season, with a convincing lead.
\nMahrez was instrumental in returning the club to the Premier League for the first time in 10 years for the 2014-15 season after helping it to win the 2013-14 Football League Championship in his first few months with the club. Despite his thin stature that made some doubt him in his early days, Mahrez’s ability has seen him described by The Guardian as “one of the most exciting — and effective — players” in the league.
\nHe was born in France to an Algerian father — whose death in 2006 is said to have reinforced Mahrez’s determination to succeed in football — and Algerian-Moroccan mother. He kept strong ties to his homeland and in 2014 debuted for the national team at the FIFA World Cup and last year starred during the Africa Cup of Nations.
\nHe was named Algerian Footballer of the Year in 2015. Last year also saw him marry his English girlfriend.
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61. Mutaz Barshim
\nTrack and field athlete
\nMutaz Barshim was a champion by the age of 19. Five years later, he is showing no signs of slowing down. He is particularly dominant in high jump, in which he holds the national and Asian records for his jump of 2.43 metres, set at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York in 2014. It was only 2cm off the world record.
\nBarshim set his first Qatar national indoor record in 2010 in Gothenburg with a jump of 2.25 metres, after which he went on to win the gold medal at the 2010 Asian Indoor and World Junior Championships and the 2011 Asian Athletics Championships and 2011 Military World Games. Following that, he won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He has sights set on his first Olympic gold medal at the Brazil event this year.
\nBarshim has credited his sporting success to his father, who was also a track and field athlete who competed in middle and long distance running. He told International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that he “grew up nothing special, like any kid in Qatar”. But in the eyes of Qatar and the world, Barshim is today without a doubt someone special.