InPics: The 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40 - Sport, Media and Arts and Entertainment

Welcome to the 2015 Arabian Business Power List, our guide to the planet’s 100 most influential young Arabs
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3. Hassan Al Thawadi
\nSecretary General
\nSupreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy
\nAge: 37

\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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5.Noura Al Kaabi
\nMedia Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi and twofour54
\nAge: 36

\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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13. Rani Raad
\nChief operating officer
\nUK (Lebanon)
\nAge: 39

\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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15. Afrah Nasser
\nJournalist and blogger
\nSweden (Yemen)
\nAge: 30

\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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19. Nancy Ajram
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 31

\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
\nAge: 39

\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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25. Omar Abdulrahman
\nAge: 23

\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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27. Lina Attalah
\nChief Editor
\nMada Masr
\nAge: 31

\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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32.Fahad Albutairi
\nStand-up comedian
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAge: 29

\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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36.Chaker Khazaal
\nAuthor, war reporter, activist
\nCanada (Palestine)
\nAge: 27

\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
\nSaudi Arabia
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 33

\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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41. Amira Yahyaoui
\nActivist, journalist

\nAge: 30
\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
\nUAE (Syria)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 38\n@AyyamGallery

\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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46. Mohammed Assaf
\nArab Idol winner
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 25

\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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48. Nayla Al Khaja
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 37

\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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51. Kais Salman
\nLebanon (Syria)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 39

\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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54. Hisham Samawi
\nAyyam Gallery
\nUAE (Syria)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 37

\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
\nFrance (Morocco)
\nAge: 27

\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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58. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin
\nAge: 30

\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)
\nCanada (Iraq)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 32

\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
\nUS (Iraq)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 34

\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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67. Mahmoud Kaabour
\nFilmmaker, writer
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 36

\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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70. Hala Khayat
\nHead of sales, Middle East Modern & Contemporary Art
\nUAE (Syria)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 37

\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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73. Mutaz Barshim
\nHigh jumper
\nAge: 23

\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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76. Remy Munasifi
\nUS (Iraq/Lebanon)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 34

\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
\nAge: 37

\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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80. Futaim Al Falasi
\nRadio personality
\nAge: 23

\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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82. Khalil Beschir
\nRacing driver
\nAge: 32

\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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84. Sherine Abdel Wahab
\nSinger, actress
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 34

\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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88. Tima Shomali
\nActress, writer, producer
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 30

\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
\nTelevision presenter
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 33

\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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91. Humaid Mansoor
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 32

\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
\nFilm director
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 33

\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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94. Huda Kattan
\nUAE (Iraq)
\nAge: 31

\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,, 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
\nUS (Egypt)
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 37

\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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99. Myriam Fares
\nArts and entertainment
\nAge: 31

\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.