5 Arabs Made It Onto Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ List

BAZAAR  Here are this year’s Middle Eastern role models…

Time magazine has released their annual list of the world’s 100 most influential public figures. The list is known to recognise the work of the pioneers and changemakers of the moment, spanning aritsts, world leaders, entrepreneurs, entertainers, activists and athletes. A spot on the list is a highly coveted honour, which was just bestowed upon these five trailblazing Arabs…

Rami Malek

“He’s understated and kind, complicated and relatable; he’s downright mercurial.”

Hardly a surprising pick, since the past twelve months have marked the year of Rami Malek. The Egyptian-American actor went from strength to strength, starring as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and picking up a Best Actor Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award for his critically acclaimed performance, gaining his status as the first-ever Arab to win the latter award. One of two Egyptians featured on the list,

Oscar-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr praised the efforts of immigrant parents in his tribute to Malek: “Mighta just been destiny … more likely it’s yet another testament to hardworking immigrants raising their kids right and pushing our culture toward the light.”


Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan

“A long-term thinker”

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince appeared in the leaders category alongside other game-changing rulers of today. HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed was honoured for his strong decision-making and thougtful strategies that influence many other world leaders.

Ryan Bohl said of His Highness: “His penchant for risk taking has inspired imitators.”

Loujain Al Hathloul 

“A model of Saudi womanhood”

Gracing the icons category alongside the likes of Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama, Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Al Hathloul was honoured for her human rights work and efforts to reform laws for Saudi women, famously challenging the driving ban on women, campaigning for women’s right to run for office and petitioning for their right to travel. Ranking third on 2015’s list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Women, she’s never one to back down to social constraints.

Sarah Leah Whitson wrote of her, “The Saudi people owe a huge debt of gratitude to Loujain al-Hathloul. When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised to modernize the kingdom, the most celebrated change, allowing women to drive in June 2018, was built on the fearless, longtime efforts of activists like Loujain.”

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Loujain Al-Hathloul is a Saudi women's rights activist, who is being held as a political prisoner. Al-Hathloul is known both for her role in the women to drive movement and in opposing the Saudi male guardianship system. On 1 December 2014, she was arrested and detained for 73 days after an attempt to cross the border in her car from the UAE to Saudi Arabia on charges related to defying the female driving ban in the kingdom. In September 2016, along with 14,000 others, Al-Hathloul signed a petition to King Salman asking for the male guardianship system to be abolished. On 4 June 2017, she was arrested and detained at King Fahad International Airport in Dammam with no clear reason for the arrest. Al-Hathloul was detained again in May 2018, along with Eman al-Nafjan, Aisha al-Mana, Aziza al-Yousef, Madeha al-Ajroush and others involved in campaigning for women's rights in Saudi Arabia. In June 2018, when women were granted the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, Al-Hathloul and others remained under arrest. According to ALQST and Amnesty International, she and several of the other women detained for their women's rights activities were tortured. On March 1st, 2019 the office of Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor office in Lebanon announced that the preliminary investigation had been completed and they would be preparing to try Al Hathloul and other activists in court for undermining state security. On March 13, 2019, the trial began, although the charges were not specified and reporters and diplomats were barred from attending. Dozens of other activists, intellectuals and clerics have been arrested separately in the past two years in an apparent bid to stamp out possible opposition. The header of Al Hathloul's website (where she shared personal writing and theses written by Saudi activists, with a page 'dedicated to feminists all over the Arab world') is a quote from historical political activist, Emmeline Pankhurst – "We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers". #LoujainAlHathloul #WomensHistoryMonth #EveryMonthShouldBeWomensHistoryMonth

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Mo Salah

“An iconic figure for Egyptians, Scousers and Muslims the world over”

Mo Salah has more than earned his status as one of the world’s best football players, consistantly breaking records and bringing pride to both Egypt and Liverpool. Known for his infectious warmth and charisma, his success has made him no less humble and amiable. One of the six figures to nab a cover, he professed the need for change in the treatment of women in his culture in his Time cover interview; he stated, “”I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture. It’s not optional.” A feminist champion as well as a football champion?

HBO host John Oliver said of him, “As a footballer, he plays with an infectious joy. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be able to play as well as him, and watching his face light up after he does something incredible, you get the reassuring sense that it’s exactly as fun as you’d want it to be.”

Radhya Al-Mutawakel

“One of the truly courageous among us”

Yemeni defender of human rights and the second Arab women to make the list, Radhya Al-Mutawakel, also took a spot in the icons category. She works to shed light on the conflict and consequent humanitarian crisis in Yemen, bringing the critical issue to the global stage when speaking at the UN or writing for a whole host of media outlets. She co-founded Mwatana Organisation For Human Rights, an organisation aiming to protect human rights in Yemen.

Bernie Sanders, the prominent US Senator and presidential candidate, delcared in his Time piece, “Radhya and her colleagues face risks every day to uncover the human costs of war. For leading this work, Radhya Almutawakel deserves recognition as one of the truly courageous among us.”

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