Lebanese have often been hailed around the world for being talented, smart, crafty, and able to defy the odds. More often than not, we find out that many successful figures around the world end up having a drop of Lebanese blood in them. The list is extensive but here we narrow it down to 10 notable ones, all of whom have received numerous awards and accolades in their respective fields:
10) Salma Hayek, best known for her allure and quick wit in interviews as well as for her roles in “Desperado”, “Frida”, and her show “Ugly Betty”, is Lebanese on her father’s side. Salma’s father, Sami Hayek Domínguez, comes from the city of Baabdat and was an oil company executive and entrepreneur in Mexico. Salma is an advocate of women’s rights and has criticized the discrimination against women in Lebanon after visiting in 2015 and learning that, unlike fathers, mothers cannot pass on their Lebanese nationality to their offspring.
9) Tony Shalhoub, best known for his hilarious award- winning role as OCD detective “Monk”, is Lebanese from both parents- his father was a Lebanese orphan who left to the states at the age of 10 and his mother was a Lebanese American. They both opened a family grocery store and raised 10 kids, Tony being number 9. In 2005, to encourage Arab Americans to pursue the field, Shalhoub launched the Arab-American Filmmaker Award Competition to study submitted screenplays by Arab-American filmmakers and fly in to Hollywood whoever wins and go on to produce the winner’s screenplay.
8) Carlos Ghosn, referred to as “Superman”, was born into a Lebanese family in Brazil. Carlos’ grandfather and father, Bichara and Jorge Ghosn respectively, were both entrepreneurs and his mother was a Lebanese woman born in Nigeria. He is known for his brilliant management styles and getting companies out of the gutter, hence the nicknames, "Le Cost Killer", "Mr. Fix It", and the "Seven-Eleven”. In a Japanese survey in 2011, people were asked whom they wanted to see run the country and Carlos came in 7th on the poll with Obama trailing behind at 9!
7) Carlos Slim, always ranked as one of the richest men in the world, was born in Mexico to Lebanese parents, Khalil Salim Haddad Aglamaz and Linda Helú Atta. Slim’s father had gone to Mexico at a young age during the time of the Ottoman Empire to avoid being conscripted. As of October 27 this year, Slim has become the 6th richest person with a net worth of $64.3 billion. His empire encompasses telecom, real estate, education, transportation, and finance. Slim also went on to marry a Lebanese woman, Soumaya Domit. Today, he lives in the same house he has lived in for the past 40 years.
6) Shakira, best known for her belly dancing moves and chart-topping hits, was born in Colombia to William Mebarak Chadid whose parents had left Lebanon for a better life. Her belly dancing talent came out when her dad took her to a Middle Eastern restaurant and she heard the doumbek play. While growing up, there was a time when her parents went through financial trouble, prompting her father to take her to a park to watch how orphans lived. It is said that she will be shooting a TV show soon in Zahle, her father’s hometown.
5) Paul Nassif, the US plastic surgeon we have all come to know from the E! Series, Botched, was born to a Lebanese father, Sabin Nassif, and whose grandparents George Assef Nassif Attiyeh and his wife left their village Ain Arab to the states around the time the titanic sank. They were involved in the rug business and in various Lebanese charities such as the Attiyeh Benevolent Society. Paul’s ex-wife is also of Lebanese heritage from the Maloof family.
4) Joseph Barbera & William Hanna: Who knew that Tom and Jerry were Lebanese? The masterminds behind the most popular cartoon in TV history were Joseph Barbera and William Hanna who co-founded the Hanna-Barbera Company. While Joseph was born in Little Italy in Manhattan, William Hanna was born in Melrose, New Mexico, both to Lebanese parents. Awarded 7 Academy Awards and 8 Emmy’s, Hanna- Barbera Productions made cartoons that have been translated into more than 20 languages and produced hits like ''The Flintstones'', ''The Jetsons'', ''Jonny Quest'', and ''Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!''
3) Reem Acra began her journey as a fashion designer after she made a bet with a friend that she could make her a wedding dress in three weeks. Not long after, Reem used her AMEX card to buy 20,000 dollars’ worth of fabric, pitched her designs to Saks and other stores and soon got to work after receiving an order for 30 dresses. Today her name is on the tongues of A-listers like Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and even the current first lady herself, Melania Trump. The Queen of pop Madonna even wore a Reem Acra dress at the 69th Golden Globe Awards in 2012!
2) Gabriel Yared: If you’ve heard the soundtrack of The English Patient, City of Angels, Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley , The Prophet, Autumn in New York, and Chocolat, then you are familiar with Gabriel Yared and his work. Yared studied law at the Université Saint-Joseph then went to France to study music properly. Today, he can boast that he has worked with big names like Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud and Mireille Mathieu and has received three Academy Award nominations and a plethora of others. He won several accolades for The English Patient. He has also received various nominations for both The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain but undoubtedly, his all-time masterpiece was The English Patient.
1) Amal Alameddine Clooney, who rose to fame as the smart and elegant wife of George Clooney, is a successful woman in her own right, working on numerous high-profile cases. Her specialty is international law and human rights with a list of clients that includes Julian Assange, former PM of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko, and journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Amal’s father Ramzi Alam Uddin is from Baakline while her mother Bariaa Miknass comes from Tripoli. Amal had to leave Beirut to England when she 2 years old during the Civil war but has not forgotten her roots. In collaboration with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, she began the Amal Clooney Scholarship, which takes care of the education of a female student from Lebanon each year by providing her with a two-year international baccalaureate scholarship from the United World College Dilijan.