Power 100-Wadah Khanfar
With the top role at the Al Jazeera network, Wadah Khanfar is a media force to be reckoned with. The 40-year-old heads up the entire station — including its live English and Arabic news channels, its sports channels, its website and its documentary channel. Khanfar became managing director of the Al Jazeera channel in 2003 and director general of the network in 2006.
Under his guidance, Al Jazeera has become one of the most recognisable brands in the world. In terms of influencing Arab opinion, there is no bigger medium. According to an Interbrand survey, Al Jazeera’s brand in the news channel sector is bigger than that of CNN and BBC.
Khanfar was born in the Palestinian city of Tulkarm. He studied engineering from 1985 to 1990 at the University of Jordan and went on to postgraduate studies in philosophy, African studies, and international politics. During this time, Khanfar also found time to found a Student Union and started an inter-university dialogue group amongst students from a range of political backgrounds. From 1989 to 1990, he helped to organise forums, protests, festivals and demonstrations for student rights.
Khanfar has worked his way up the media ranks and has card-carrying journalistic credentials, after covering some of the world’s key political zones. Khanfar’s first role at Al Jazeera was as a correspondent in South Africa; in 2001-2002 he was a war correspondent in Afghanistan and during the war in Iraq, he reported from Kurdish-controlled territory in the North. Later, he was appointed as the chief of the Baghdad Bureau — the biggest operation for Al Jazeera outside the station’s home market of Qatar.