REVEALED: The most powerful Arabs in media
See photos of some of the world's most influential Arab media stars
500 Daoud Kuttab
\nDaoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and media activists. He is the former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Daoud Kuttab is currently the director general of Community Media Network (CMN) a not for profit media organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. CMN is registered in Jordan and Palestine and administers Radio al Balad in Amman, and www.ammannet.net
\nBorn in Jerusalem in 1955, Kuttab studied in the United States and has been working in journalism ever since 1980. He began his journalism career working in the Palestinian print media (Al-Fajr, Al-Quds and Asennara) as well as the audio visual field (Documentary producer). He established and presided over the Jerusalem Film Institute in the 90s. In 1995 he helped establish the Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN) a censorship free Arab web site www.amin.org. He established and has headed between 1996 until 2007 the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University. In 1997 he partially moved to Amman (because of family tragedy and remarriage) and in 2000 established the Arab world's first internet radio station AmmanNet (www.ammannet.net). Mr. Kuttab is active in media freedom efforts in the Middle East. He is a regular columnist for the Jordan Times, The Jerusalem Post and the Daily Star in Lebanon. He has co-produced a number of award winning documentaries and children's television programs. His op-ed columns have appeared in the NY Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angles Times, The Daily Telegraph and Shimbum Daily in Tokyo. He has received a number of international awards among them the CPJ Freedom of Expression Award, the IPI World Press Freedom Hero, PEN Club USA Writing Freedom Award, the Leipzeg Courage in Freedom Award and the Next Foundation (UK) Peace through Media Award. He is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post, Palestine News Network, Al Arrabiya.Net and the Jordan Times.
\nSee the full list of the 500 most influential Arabs in the world here
495 Joelle Mardinian
\nJoelle Mardinian is a renowned TV personality on MBC’s weekly reality show entitled, “Joelle”. She is also a prominent business women and a leading beauty expert in the Middle East.
\nPresently, joelle is integral to the luxury beauty sector of the GCC, with her leading beauty centers anchored in every major city among Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Riyadh, and Doha.
\nShe has been recognized as the ‘Arab Woman of the Year’ in 2010 and was listed among the 100 most powerful Arab women in 2013 for her success and accomplishments throughout the Middle East.
\nToday Joelle is one of the most influential and inspiring personalities in the Arab world. She is the official regional creative director for one of the world’s most renowned cosmetic brand “MaxFactor” and is soon set to launch her own skin care and professional hair care brand ‘ Joelle Paris ‘
\nFurthermore joelle is launching the first celebrity cosmetic clinic named ‘ Clinica’ in collaboration with A list doctors, surgeons, researchers and beauty consultants who are celebrities in their own field.
408 Akram Miknas
\nAkram Miknas is the founder of the now ubiquitous Promoseven Holdings group, under whose umbrella reside some of the most sought-after brands in advertising and PR, and which today is the largest advertising and communications network in the Middle East and North Africa.
281 Hala Gorani
\nCNN anchor Hala Gorani is a prominent journalist in the Arab World. Known for her hard-hitting news reports in the region, she has now covered every single Middle Eastern country, and a large number of major events from the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war to last year’s Egyptian revolution.
\nThough she was born in Seattle, Gorani has a Middle Eastern background, with parents from Syria. Gorani now anchors CNN’s International Desk, but she has previously hosted shows like Inside the Middle East.
278 Mohammed Saeed Harib
\nMohammed Saeed Harib was just 19 years old when he wrote Freej, a six-page study book.
\nIn 2003 the Emirati got his first big break after Freej was adopted by Media City, who translated it to the screen. The show, which features four elderly national ladies living in a rapidly evolving Dubai, premiered in 2006, a year after Lammtara Pictures was established to oversee its production. With the show’s success, many doors have opened for Harib. Last year, it was announced that Harib will contribute to the film adaptation of Gibran’s The Prophet.
231 Khadija Al Salami
\nAl Salami is the first Yemeni female film producer, having made numerous movies as well as documentaries for television networks in France and Yemen. Her works generally focus on women’s issues, probably as a result of her own childhood.
\nAl Salami was forced into an early marriage at just 11 years old and was raped by her husband. When she attempted to divorce her husband she was disowned by her extended family, left with only her single mother. Al Salami fell into production as a means of coping with her life, attending the local television studio after school. She went on to receive a scholarship to study communications. Al Salami also has co-authored an autobiography, The Tears of Sheba, with her current husband, the American Charles Hoots. She director of the Yemeni Information Centre at the Embassy of Yemen in Paris and is a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur.
219 Nashwa Al Ruwaini
\nCairo-born Nashwa Al Ruwaini is the CEO of the UAE-based Pyramedia and director of the Middle East International Film Festival. She started her career on the radio in Qatar at the age of 15, before becoming a TV presenter on Qatar TV.
\nShe later moved to London where she worked with MBC, before moving back to establish the channel’s Cairo office. In 1998, she finally established her own production company Pyramedia, which is now one of the largest in the Middle East.
\nShe has earned the title “Oprah of the Middle East” after hosting her self-titled chat show, during which she discusses numerous sensitive topics including the role of women in religion, AIDS and child abuse. Al Ruwaini also brought Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to the region.
209 Dalia Mogahed
\nGallup Center for Muslim Studies
\nThe Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies is a non-partisan research centre that provides data and analysis on Muslims and coordinates a large-scale survey of Muslims worldwide. As head of the centre for nearly a decade, Mogahed, is regularly called upon to comment on behalf of Muslims and to provide insights.
\nShe was selected by US President Barack Obama to advise the White House on Muslim-West relations and is a board member and leader in several organisations, including the Crisis in the Middle East Task Force of the Brookings Institution, the Executive Board of Women in International Security, the leadership group of the Project on US Engagement with the Global Muslim Community, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arab World. She is also a nonresident senior public policy scholar at Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.
\nBorn in Cairo in 1974, she immigrated to the US aged five and has American citizenship.
206 Randa Ayoubi
\nRubicon Group Holding
\nAyoubi founded entertainment company Rubicon Group Holding as a small venture capital project in 2004 and has developed it into a multi-faceted company with four international locations and more than 300 employees.
\nRGH now produces entertainment and educational content across multiple platforms including feature films, television series, 2D and 3D animation and downloadable content, as well as offering voiceovers, character design, storyboarding, and audio mixing services. It is particularly famous for the children’s television series Ben and Izzy. RHG also provides content for themed entertainment attractions across the Middle East and North Africa.
\nAyoubi completed her post-graduate studies at Harvard. She is particularly involved in education, serving on the board of trustees of the King’s Academy, a Jordan-based co-ed boarding high school, and has been recognized by the United Nations for her educational efforts in Africa.
162 Nezar Nagro
\nRotana Media Services
\nUAE (Saudi Arabia)
\nNezar Nagro heads up Rotana Media Services (RMS), one of the largest media groups in the MENA region.\nThe Dubai-based firm sells and promotes all of Rotana’s TV stations, Fox Movies, Fox, LBC SAT, Rotana Magazine, Radio Stations as well as many other placements. The company, which was founded in 2004 and is owned by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and News Corp, has regional offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, Beirut and Cairo.
135. Ramzi Raad
\nChairman & CEO
\nTBWA/RAAD Middle East
\nRaad graduated from the American University of Beirut and began his advertising career in 1967. For the following twelve years he helped to expand the first Middle East regional agency network, by helping establish its branches in Kuwait and Bahrain in the early seventies. As a result of the eruption of the civil war in his native Lebanon, he was the first Lebanese ad man to move to the Gulf where he settled in Dubai in October 1975. In 1982 he moved to Paris and two years later he transferred to London for the next four years. He returned to Dubai in 1986 and it has remained his base of operations ever since.
129. Raja Trad
\nLeo Burnett (MENA)
\nTrad is the CEO of Leo Burnett Group MENA, a major integrated communications network headquartered in Dubai, and with offices in Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Casablanca. Through solid and expansive partnerships with its multinational clients and through the strong growth of its regional and local accounts, Leo Burnett MENA has become one of the region’s largest and most successful agencies.
\nNow a member of the Leo Burnett Worldwide Global Leadership Council, Trad began his career in advertising in 1978 as an account executive with Young & Rubicam on the P&G account in Beirut and Athens. In 1981, he joined H&C Leo Burnett Beirut as an account director, and in 1984 he was named regional account director on the Philip Morris account.
104. Amina Al Rustamani
\nDr Amina Al Rustamani started her career in 2001 as a project engineer in Dubai Media City. Just over a decade later, she has become one of the Arab world’s most powerful women, looking after 4,500 companies at TECOM Business Parks. Her rise to the top was nothing short of meteoric. She quickly began working on different projects related to broadcasting, and within four years of joining was a director in the company, having worked in the sales, marketing and technical design sides of the business. She was promoted to become the broadcast director at Dubai Media City, and became instrumental in the launch of Dubai Studio City, before becoming Dubai Media City’s executive director. Then in 2008, just seven years after first joining the company, she was appointed as CEO of TECOM Business Parks. She is a board member of Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), and also sits on the boards of Lamtara and Tunisia Telecom.
96. Ahmed Al Hammadi
\nCEO, Commercial and Marketing Affairs
\nAhmed Al Hammadi has had over seventeen years of experience in the UAE media industry, covering newspapers, distribution, sales, radio, magazines, television and online. Prior to taking on his current role, he was deputy CEO for support services at DMI. Al Hammadi has managed five daily newspapers, including Al Bayan and Al Emarat Al Youm, Emirates Today and Emirates Business 24/7 and is a board member at Career Junction Co and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) ME. He has a degree in business administration from the Higher Colleges of Technology.
92. Ahmed Al Mansouri
\nDirector general, Television Channels
\nDubai Media Incorporated
\nAhmed Al Mansouri is just the latest in a new wave of young talent making headlines in the UAE’s growing media industry. He is now the director general of all Dubai Media Incorporated’s channels. Al Mansouri has also served as general manager of the television channel Sama Dubai, and as deputy manager of Dubai Media Incorporated between 2005 and 2007.
\nAl Mansouri was promoted to his current position earlier this year, via a degree issued by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Among the channels that he oversees are Dubai TV, Sama Dubai, Dubai One, Dubai Sports, Dubai Racing and Noor Dubai TV. He has a masters degree in communications from Emirates University.
84. Mona Al Marri
\nDubai Government Media Office
\nLast year, Mona Al Marri was appointed director general of the Dubai government media office, replacing Ahmad Al Sheikh. A former PR guru, Al Marri was appointed CEO of Brand Dubai, the emirate’s first state media office, three years ago. Right now, she is in charge of shaping Dubai’s image to the media both at home and abroad. She is vice president of the Dubai Ladies Club and a board leader of Young Arab Leaders. Al Marri holds an MBA from the Higher Colleges of Technology.
72. Ayman Mohyeldin
\nStill just 33, Ayman Mohyeldin has covered virtually every war, crisis and political development in what has been a tumultuous decade for the Middle East. Born in Cairo, Mohyeldin studied in the US before taking up a desk assistant position at NBC’s Washington bureau shortly after 9/11. He then moved to CNN, where he covered the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent uprisings in the country. Mohyeldin has also reported on Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, produced the first interview with Muammar Gaddafi after the Libyan leader announced that he would abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and covered the Egyptian presidential elections, also in 2005.
\nMore recently, he reported on the 2011 uprisings in Egypt for Al Jazeera, and was one of five journalists detained by Egyptian authorities after the Al Jazeera bureau in Cairo was closed down. Mohyeldin rejoined NBC in September 2011, and has since covered the uprisings in Syria.
70. Noura Al Kaabi
\nNoura Al Kaabi took over the top job at Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 - a media development and training zone in the UAE capital - from former CEO Tony Orsten in April last year. She is also a board member of Abu Dhabi Media Company, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Flash Entertainment. She also sits on the Advisory Board for Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Tawteen, an initiative by Emirates Foundation. This year, Al Kaabi was handed the Media CEO of the Year award.
69. Bassem Youssef
\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. Youssef’s satirical news programme, ‘The Show’, has lampooned many of Egypt’s most prominent personalities.His Yutube 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 has been accused of defaming President Mohammed Mursi on two occasions.
65. Walid Al Ibrahim
\nOften cited as the man who changed the face of Arab media, Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim is a familiar face in the Arabian Business Power List. In 1991, MBC Group’s chairman and CEO launched the first independent Arabic satellite TV station in association with Saleh Kamel.
\nOver the past 20 years, MBC Group has grown to become a well-established media group Based in Dubai, MBC Group includes 10 television channels: MBC1 (general family entertainment), MBC2 and MBC MAX (24-hour movies), MBC3 (children’s entertainment), MBC4 (entertainment for new Arab women), MBC Action (action series and movies), MBC Persia (24-hour movie channel dubbed in Farsi), Al Arabiya (the 24-hour Arabic language news channel); Al Arabiya Al Hadath (an extension of Al Arabiya News Channel); Wanasah (24-hour Arabic music channel) and MBC DRAMA coinciding with the Group’s 20th anniversary, and offers 24/7 Arabic Drama; the Group also includes two radio stations: MBC FM (Gulf music), and Panorama FM (contemporary Arabic hit music); as well as O3 productions, a specialised documentary production unit. Al Ibrahim is a member of the advisory board at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication in Dubai.
52. Alex Saber
\nWith more than 20 years of experience in media and communications, Alex Saber himself is very much a veteran of the industry. His career started in 1991, working as a media executive in Leo Burnett (a sister company of VivaKi), overlooking bookings and media planning. “I wanted to work in marketing, and there was no VivaKi in those days...There was a media unit in a creative agency, we were at a corner and the creative people got all the attention. We were the back stage,” he told Arabian Business last year. He didn’t stay at the back too long. Seven years later, Starcom Mediavest was created and Saber, a graduate of the University of Iowa, went to the new operation, spending four years in Saudi Arabia. Following the launch of VivaKi as the umbrella firm, he became CEO in 2007, before taking over as chairman in 2011.
45. Mohammed Al Mulla
\nrab Media Group
\nMohamed Al Mulla is the CEO of Arab Media Group, having joined the firm in November 2008. Al Mulla is tasked with overseeing and managing the operation of all the corporate and consumer products. His corporate background extends to almost every business segment of the media industry including media and marketing services, printing and publishing, music, film, new media, leisure and entertainment, broadcasting and information agencies. Al Mulla’s key managerial positions have included work with Etisalat and the region’s media hub, Dubai Media City. Prior to AMG, he served as an executive director of Dubai Media City. He played a crucial role in consolidating the pioneering international status of the brand and steering its development strategies.
43. Dhaen Shaheen
\nDirector general for publishing
\nAs the recently appointed director general for publishing at Dubai Media Incorporated, Dhaen Shaheen is one of the most influential men in the emirate’s burgeoning media industry. Shaheen was editor in chief at Al Bayan, a hugely popular local newspaper that was originally established by the government of Dubai in 1980. Dubai Media Incorporated is chaired by Deputy Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
42. Pierre Choueiri
\nChairman and CEO
\nIt’s now nearly 50 years since Pierre Choueiri’s father, Antoine, put in place the foundations of one of the region’s biggest media empires. At its height, the Choueiri Group controlled the advertising to most of the Middle East›s TV stations, including in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Today, headed up by Pierre, the group manages the advertising space of 23 satellite and terrestrial TV stations, as well as fourteen print titles and nine radio stations. It has clients in eleven markets across the MENA region, as well as in Japan.
35. Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi
\nIf you’re interested in the Middle East and have a Twitter account, then you’ll be well acquainted with Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.
\nHis columns have appeared in titles such as the New York Times, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Open Democracy, the Independent and the Guardian. He tweets prolifically @SultanAlQassemi and has just over 188,000 followers. In fact, if you are reading this on the internet, the chances are that you have arrived here via the power of his network. Al Qassemi received a master’s degree in global banking and finance from the European Business School, where he graduated with distinction in 2004. He received his BSc in International Business Administration from the American University of Paris.
27. Mustafa Agha
\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.
25. Joseph Ghossoub
\nJoseph Ghossoub is chairman and chief executive officer of MENA Communications Group (MENACOM), parent company of the Team/Y&R. One of the Middle East communications industry’s most prominent spokespersons, he has been involved in managing regional and global agencies for nearly three decades. Under his leadership, MENACOM Group (part of WPP and Y&R Brands) has grown into one of the most successful Middle East communications groups, including 12 Team/Y&R offices in 10 countries. Among his many accolades is the Arabian Business Achievement Award for Business Leadership.
23. Elie Khouri
\nOmnicom Media Group
\nThe last year has been a busy one at Omnicom Media Group.
\nThe company has focused its energy on talent, something demonstrated by its ranking in the list of best companies to work for in the UAE for the second year running. With the launch of Resolution, which specialises in performance marketing, including search, programmatic buying and social/mobile advertising, the group is capitalising on a significant growth in demand for such services from brands. Thanks to organic growth, but also new account wins, including McDonald’s, IKEA in Egypt, Qnbn, Bentley, Mubadala or Sony Mobile, Omnicom Media Group has registered a healthy rise in revenues.
\nMonitoring sources report a growth of more than 30 percent to $2.5bn. Its two communications agency networks, OMD and PHD, have innovated with the introduction of new operating systems and shared their intellectual property through events such as OMD Predicts and PHD BrainScape.
\nThe group’s CSR programme, which is founded on the pillars of the environment, corporate behaviour and the community, saw Khouri become a board member of START, a non-profit organisation established by Art Dubai and the Al Madad Foundation, and of Injaz-UAE, an organisation dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.