8 Arab Storytellers/Speakers Breaking Boundaries and Inspiring Us Every Day

By: Rawan Khalil

 Storytelling is an art, and once mastered by an individual they end up captivating thousands of people to just sit down and listen to learn and be inspired. I have been writing for Teenntimes for around a year and a half and in that year and a half I have been exposed to amazing individuals whom I look up to whenever I need inspiration and well they are constantly using whichever platform they have to inspire and tell stories. So, here is a list of some of these amazing individuals because maybe you can find as much inspiration as I did by listening to their experiences, whether it’s in the form of their instagram posts, their Ted Talks, their poetry, their books or their art.

NAIF AL MUTAWA 

Naif Al Mutawa is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Sex Therapist & Hypnotherapist, Medical School Professor, a published writer, an Entrepreneur, the mastermind behing The 99, a brilliant keynote speaker, a father to 5 boys and a man who’s life was threatened by ISIS. Now, if you do not know The 99 they are the first group of comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype, and they have received worldwide praise by the media and there is even a series of comics where The 99 reach out to the Justice League for all of you Comic book fans out there. 

Doctor Naif have also written multiple thought stimulating books which challenge many of today’s issues using very simple terms, and his courage has gotten him lots of praise and trouble which he’s always eager to speak about and his journey is quite an impressive one. I had the honour of listening to Doctor Naif when he came visited our school and gave us a morning speech which turned a dull Wednesday into one where everyone had this burst of energy because how inspiring his speech was. If you want one of those energy boosts I would suggest you watch Doctor Naif’s Ted Talks or read one of his many amazing articles. Honestly, no matter how much I say I will be massively underplaying his attributes. 

AMR SALAMA

Amr Salama is a Filmmaker and Writer. He has directed a set of brilliant, brave and challenging movies in the MENA region. His passion for filmmaking has driven him to create films which are revolutionising the film industry and breaking stereotypes a movie after another. Sheikh Jackson and Excuse my French being two of his infamous movies. 

Currently he’s working with Mohamed Hefzy to create an arabic series – Paranormal – as a Netflix Original Series which is based on the horror book series by the Egyptian Author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik. Amr Salama writes and directs truly compelling movies, which tell stories that are quite relatable to all us Middle Easterns. He truly is an Arab gem.

FADILA KHALED

I am being very fucking sneaky, she did not threaten my life but I genuinely cannot help it. Fadila is founder/CEO of Teenntimes, an Anthro student, a freelance writer and a part-time teacher. (She’s also a mother to like 30 kids but that drive her mad so it goes in here :))  Fadila is literally a power to be reckoned with- she is the superwoman she wants to be, constantly inspiring and pushing people to their limits to bring out the best out of them. She is also a storyteller, always using instagram and her articles/letters as a platform to speak about her struggles, her failures and her success. She is a 19 year old badass and in a year and a half I have learnt so much from her. 

She’s one of the craziest and most incredible people I know and I genuinely feel blessed to be surrounded by her craziness and (her motherhood). If you ever need some badass-ness read a couple of her articles or instagram captions- prepare yourself for pure crazy and nothing less.

NOUR FLAYHAN

Nour is a Lebanese illustrator and visual storyteller. Nour constantly uses her art to shed light on important topics whether it be women’s rights, the situation in Gaza or Lebanon. She attended this year’s RiseUpSummit and spoke about the impact visual storytelling has, but of course her art already screams that.

ALYA MOORO

Yes, another incredible Arab woman on this list. Alya is born in Egypt, raised in London and she is a freelance journalist. She has a published book: The Greater Freedom: Life as a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes. Her book includes personal experiences, feelings, thoughts and personal battles about what identity means to her wether that means exploring feminism, what it means to be a muslim middle eastern. She talks about the expectations of being an Arab woman and the shame that can come with it and how one can break from all of these stereotypes by simply choosing to speak about certain topics. 

Alya is a voice for women and young girls in the Middle East, and she has used her voice to say the things many women are scared to say but are thinking about every single day! Honestly, I would love to meet her and have a cup of tea while we talk about some Sociological theories (because she has a bachelor’s in Sociology- I feel creepy) 

SALMA EL WARDANY

Salma is a Writer, Poet, a BBC Presenter, a business owner and one hell of an inspirational speaker. I think I am speaking for every single person on the Teenntimes team when I say Salma is one of the people that constantly inspires and empowers us to believe in ourselves, and also her poetry is one of the places where we find solace and infer creativity to write articles.  

Salma constantly uses her instagram to share her stories in the form of poetry or rants on her instagram stories, as well as very recently launching her patreon to inspire people. Salma is a powerful, brave woman who is unapologetically herself and she uses every platform she has to make other people feel powerful and believe in themselves- that is a truly exceptional thing. 

OMAR NOUR

Omar is retired Professional Triathlete, an Entrepreneur and a Tedx Speaker. Now, before I say anything else I need to express my remorse and regret for not attending 2019’s TedxAUK where Omar Nour gave a speech which I then watched on Youtube even though I live in Kuwait- so yes I feel pathetic- I think I almost cried because I… I just really wanted to go but I found out too late.

Moving on, Omar is one of those people that has a contagious positive energy- you watch him speak and automatically there is a smile on your face because his belief of a person’s potential is truly inspiring and one that will quickly resonate with you. I feel like if I had a one-to-one conversation with him I will end up doing something absolutely crazy that I always wanted to do. Hopefully one day I will see him in real life- until then it’s painful regret. (Also, he’s so badass like he literally wears shirts with his initials) 

AMY MOWAFI

Amy is founder/CEO of the daddy company MO4 Network and all it’s baby companies: CairoZoom, CairoScene, StartupScene, SceneArabia, ElFasla, SceneNoise and SceneEats, she’s also an author to an incredible book: Fe-mail and a mother of two. I think if someone asked me to choose one person in the world to spend a day with I would pick Amy Mowafi because honestly she has this incredible energy, always enthusiastic and ready to work, passionate as fuck and always happy to hold a microphone and speak. 

Amy constantly uses her instagram to tell little stories about her life which are quite entertaining to read. She’s an admirable superwoman that juggles so much and is happiest when she’s telling stories whether they be her own or other people’s – stories about culture and heritage. She’s one of the most empowering women of this day and age.

That’s a wrap ladies and gents, these are 8 of the most incredible people who are constantly blessing the world with magic! 

Love,

Rawan

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