Industry: Culture & Society
Designation: Islamic preacher
Country: Saudi Arabia
Occupation: Islamic preacher
Ahmad Al Shugairi does not have any formal religious training or title and he regularly tells his audience that he is “not a sheikh.”
However, he is part of the growing trend in Arab cable TV evangelists and his inspiring delivery and back story is proving to be a breath of fresh air for modern Muslims looking for direction on how to balance their religious beliefs with a modern lifestyle.
Born into a wealthy Saudi family, he went to study in California, which he describes as his “wild years” when he partied, married and divorced. After veering towards severe Islam, he returned to Saudi and, after studying with a local cleric, realised he could strike a balance. In 2002, his show
(Hey, Young People) became very popular, as did a series called
during the holy month of Ramadan.
The stylish and charismatic Saudi often addresses his audience in jeans or a white Saudi robe and headdress and refers to Islam as “an excellent product that needs better packaging.” While he appeals to the Arab youth and has been profiled by TIME magazine and The New York Times, traditional clerics have accused him of preaching “easy Islam” or “yuppie Islam”.