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Al Arabiya’s new show to profile region’s movers and shakers

Published: Updated:

Al Arabiya News Channel is set to air a new show profiling Arab businesspeople by spending a day with them to shed light on the personalities behind some of the region’s biggest corporations.

The concept of the monthly program “Businessmen Profiles” (Shakhsiyat Iktisadiyah) is “to inspire young entrepreneurs from stories of these businessmen who believed in a certain idea and took the risk with passion – and kept going until they succeeded,” said Fatima Zahra Daoui, senior presenter and executive producer of the show, and a financial news anchor on Al Arabiya TV.

Abdulrahman al-Rashid, general manager of Al Arabiya News Channel, was behind the concept of the program.

Gaining access to these VIPs was not easy, said Ibrahim al-Otaibi, one of the cameramen and the director of the show.

“After getting in touch with the guest and convincing him not to limit the interview to the office, issues would arise from unexpected circumstances or conditions, but those are mainly logistic problems,” he said.

“Sometimes, you only have 15 or 20 minutes a day with such people, and you don’t want to waste a minute.”

The first episode, set to air today, will host Prince Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Kabeer, the founder of Almarai dairy farms and an investor in many other businesses. His wealth is estimated at $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Other episodes will host figures such as Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris, founder and chairman of Orascom Development Holding, worth $525 million, and Brazilian-Lebanese businessman Carlos Ghosn, the president and CEO of Renault and Nissan Motor Co., worth $50m.

Khalaf al-Habtoor, hotel and construction magnate and founder and chairman of Al Habtoor Group, whose worth was last estimated by Forbes at $2.3bn, and Moroccan businessman and politician Miloud Chaabi, founder and chairman of Ynna Holding among other businesses, worth $2.1bn, according to Forbes, are future guests as well.

Shooting locations included Egypt, Switzerland, France and Saudi Arabia.

“We tried to stay as far away as possible from the traditional talk-show setting,” to give “an in-depth look into the guest’s personality, and delivering it in a creative way,” said Aqeel A. Bukhamsin, the program’s producer.

“This show hosts Arab businessmen who lived and started businesses in Arab countries. They understand the Arab culture, and are aware of the obstacles that face any entrepreneur in the region,” added Bukhamsin.

“Understanding their mentality and their advice would definitely benefit Arab entrepreneurs better than advice given from people from other cultures.”

Guests who appear on the show are chosen according to “their wealth and their story,” said Daoui.

Coming from a financial background helped Daoui in her role on the show, because “wealth and fortune is not followed up well enough in the Arab world,” she said.

“Many numbers are not documented, and some numbers are actually false, so I do call a lot of contacts in the banking industry to confirm information,” Daoui said.