15 Arab Americans Who Stole the Spotlight in 2017
By Noor Almohsin/Arab America Contributing Writer
There are Arab Americans achievers in various fields. As a community, it has a number of accomplished members who do well to themselves, community and the society. Arab Americans have a high rate of education nationally compared to other groups, and those achievers are among hundreds of them if not thousands. They got spotlights in politics, advocacy, beauty, comedy, fashion, and modeling. They make great role models for young Arab Americans to envision success in different areas. This list includes 15 Arab American achievers in 2017.
1-Abdulrahman Mohamed El-Sayed
Abdulrahman Mohamed El-Sayed, known as Abdul El-Sayed, is a physician, epidemiologist, public health expert. As a researcher, he authored over 100 scientific publications. His parents migrated from Egypt, and he was born and raised in Detroit Michigan. On February 2017, he announced his candidacy for Governor of Michigan, running as a Democrat for 2018 elections.
Adam Saleh has been a YouTube personality since 2012. He also described himself as a prankster for staged videos he makes. He had collaborative work with others such as Sheikh Akbar, Karim Metwaly, and Slim Albaher. Adam was born and raised in New York to Yemeni American parents and attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His YouTube channel where he addresses misconceptions about Islam has over 1.5 million followers. In 2017, Adam was on a tour around the U.S. for his live show; he combines music, storytelling, videos, and personal interaction with the audience.
Ali Sultan’s passion to be on stage pushed him to achieve his dreams in stand up comedy. Moving to America at the age of 15 and learning English helped him overcome the challenges in establishing his career. Sultan who was born in Yemen performed extensively and won different Awards such as: Acme’s Funniest Person in The Twin Cities, Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy Funniest Person With a Day Job. In 2017, Growler Magazine listed him as one of the Top 5 Local Comics to watch.
Ammar was a public affairs officer at the Labor Department during the Obama Administration; he also handled constituent correspondence with the community for the president office. In addition, he worked for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as the Director of Communication. Ammar’s mixed racial background: Palestinian father and Latino mother enrich his experience in reaching different communities in the U.S. Later this year, he announced his candidacy for Congress against a long-term republican representative in California’s District 50 in 2018.
5-Alex Michael Azar
Azar is a third generation Arab American. His grandfather moved to the United States from Lebanon. Alex Michael Azar served as the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human services during George Bush from 2005-2007. He also worked as the president of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest division of Eli Lilly and Company; Azar left it in February 2017. In November, Trump announced on Twitter that Azar is the current nominee for United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.
6-Dina Habib Powell
At a young age, Dina Habib Powell immigrated to the U.S with her family from Egypt. Dina Powell is a non-profit executive, philanthropist, and U.S. policymaker. In 2017, she was named Trump’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy. Dina is a lifelong member of the Republican Party, who played role in foreign policy especially regards the Middle East. She also was the honored speaker at the State Department dinner of the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, and she was featured by Working Mother as one of the 50 most powerful moms for 2017.
Faiza Rammuny is a social media influencer. She is a comedian, blogger, Instagrammer and a relationship guru. Being Palestinian American, she blogs about her personal experience incorporating culture, religion, and values of the Arab American community. Faiza makes videos, pictures, podcasts for her blog, Expired Fabulous, where she discusses various feminine social matters such as how to heal broken hearts, be single, and be fabulous at any age.
8- Fares Ksebati
Fares Ksebati is the CEO of My Swim Pro. He is an entrepreneur who graduated from the business school of Wayne State University, Detroit, with B.A in Marketing. Fares is a Syrian American, who collaborated with Adam Oxner and Michael Allon to develop a MySwim application. In 2017, he won the grand prize at The GreenLight Michigan Business Model Competition.
Fayrouz Saad established her political path since she graduated from the University of Michigan. She worked on community policing at the Department of Homeland Security during Obama’s Administration. Fayrouz’ parents immigrated to the U.S. 40 years ago from Lebanon and she was raised in the Arab American community of Dearborn, Michigan. In 2017, Fayrouz is running a Democrat Congressional Seat in Michigan’s 11th District.
Hassanah El-Yacoubi is a blogger living in California. She exemplifies the life of a modern Muslim woman promoting fashion, faith, fancies, and foodies. Her Arab American father, who was a refugee because of the Israeli occupation, migrated to the U.S. for higher education and better opportunities. Hassanah realized the struggle related to Muslim women’s confidence in religious and cultural identities, especially for those wearing Hijab. Her blog, Perfect For Her (PFH), includes a boutique that offers fashionable, modest contemporary clothes that help meet the needs of Muslim women. Hassanah is pursuing her Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of California.
Huda Kattan is a makeup artist, beauty blogger, and entrepreneur. She founded Huda Beauty cosmetics in 2013 that quickly gained popularity. Huda was born in Oklahoma to Iraqi parents; she studied finance at the University of Michigan and started her career with Revlon. Huda started her Beauty blog posting tutorials and tips and soon expanded her social media presence; her Instagram account has over 20 Million followers. Her Huda Beauty line started with series of false eyelashes, and in 2017, she expanded her product lines to other makeup products such as eyeshadows, powders, and foundations. Huda was one of “The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time magazine in 2017.
Linda Sarsour is a political activist based in New York. She started her advocacy career defending the civil rights of Muslim Americans after 9/11. Her activism includes protesting against police surveillance of Muslim Americans, Black Lives Matter, and feminism. Linda was born and raised in New York to Palestinian immigrants to the United States. In 2017, she was the co-chair of the Women’s March, a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, calling for human rights, women’s rights, and other reforms. With million participants, the march echoed in other countries such as: Norway, Canada, Switzerland, UK, and Australia.
Sam Jammal’s belief in equal rights and opportunities for everyone has pushed him to pursue his law degree for justice, equality, and change. He worked in various legislative positions to defend civil rights, labor, and national security issue. He also served in the Department of Commerce, and as a Chief of Staff to a Southern California Member of Congress. Sam was born to a Jordanian father and a Colombian mother. Jammal was raised in La Mirada, CA and worked with Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund after he graduated from the Law School of GWU. Sam Jammal is running for a Democratic congressional seat in California’s 39th district that is highly populated with Latinos and Asians.
Gigi and Bella Hadid are worldwide famous supermodels. Their Palestinian father, Mohamed Hadid, refuged to the US at the age of 14, and later married Yolanda van den Herik, a Dutch-American model featured in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. He is a businessman and a real estate developer worth 200 million dollars. In 2017, they were actively present in protests against Trump’s travel ban executive order, and they have been expressive of their stance against Trump’s announcement about recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Gigi’s footprint in Instagram with over 30 million followers lead to her success, in 2017 she appeared on the cover of the first Vogue Arabia.
15- Chris Sununu
Chris Sununu is a businessman and a politician who served New Hampshire Governor’s Council. He concentrates on local, national, and international real estate development, venture technologies and business acquisitions. His father’s ancestors came from Palestine to the United States. In 2017, Sununu, age 43, was elected the 82nd governor of New Hampshire for a two-year term, making him the youngest governor in the U.S.