Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.
Ghida Fakhry (Arabic: غيدا فخري) is a Lebanese journalist and is one of the primary broadcasters for the news channel Al Jazeera English at the network's Doha broadcast headquarters. Since January 2010, she has also been the host of Witness, an award-winning documentary program. Fakhry was born in 1970 in Beirut, Lebanon, where she lived until she was six years of age. To escape from the Lebanese civil war, her parents sent her to study at the Swiss boarding school Le Rosey. She completed her undergraduate education at Richmond University, London and got a Master's degree in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Boston University European Program. She is fluent in English, Arabic and French and speaks conversational Spanish. This gorgeous newsreader is a remarkably savvy and intelligent journalist, in spite of the fact that she comes from a paternal Arab culture that seems to prefer that women keep covered and quiet. She hails from a Shia Muslim family in Lebanon who insured that she recieved a top education that eventually landed her a prime spot on the Al-Jazeera network.
When Al Jazeera English was launched in April 2006, Fakhry was appointed lead female anchor for the Americas Broadcast Centre in Washington D.C. She co-anchored, with Dave Marash who was replaced in 2008 by Shihab Rattansi, the Washington, D.C. broadcasts of Al Jazeera English language television news program broadcasts daily from four separate news bureaus in Doha, Washington, D.C., London, and Kuala Lumpur. Later on, she anchored solo Washington D.C. newscasts. On the 4 and 5 of November, Ghida Fakhry and David Foster co-anchored a 12 hour-long continuous coverage run of the 2008 US presidential elections. She announced at 11 p.m. local time that Barack Obama was the projected 44th President of the United States of America. Fakhry has interviewed several Middle-Eastern leaders, including Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, President Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. She has also interviewed Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In December 2006, she conducted a special program on Kofi Annan's term as Secretary General, titled Kofi Annan: Ten Years at the Top. Fakhry has also moderated UN-related events. In January of 2008, she moderated the First Plenary Session of the First Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations hosted by the Government of Spain in Madrid. The panel, which sought to specify the true nature of the divisions that foment extremism and polarization between communities, included the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk, Javier Solana, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, and Mr. Ali Babacan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. A year later, she moderated the Market Place of Idea's at the Second Forum of the Alliance hosted by Turkey in Istanbul.
Earlier, she was New York Bureau Chief and a columnist for the London-based Arabic language daily Asharq Al-Awsat. From 2002-2004, she anchored the flagship evening newscast of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation-Al Hayat from London. During that time, Fakhry conducted exclusive in-depth interviews in Washington D.C. with U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell as well as several other senior State Department and Pentagon officials. She reported on location from Baghdad and Kabul in the summer of 2003 while travelling with Rumsfeld during his first trip to Iraq after the US-led invasion and covered his visit to the Abu Ghraib prison.Fakhry worked for the Al Jazeera Channel (Arabic language service) as its New York Bureau Chief from 2000 to late 2001. During this time she covered the attacks of September 11 and their aftermath, reporting from Ground Zero on the rescue and relief operations. She was a guest on major US networks and appeared on PBS's Charlie Rose, ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, with regular appearances on CNN's Diplomatic License with Richard Roth. Earlier in her career, she was New York Correspondent of Abu Dhabi Television. She began her journalistic career in the mid-1990s as a political reporter for the London-published Arabic language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. In October 2007, Esquire Magazine voted Ghida Fakhry as one of four US-based news anchors in its annual "Women We Love" ranking. According to LAU Magazine "Ghida Fakhry is one of the best-known Arab news personalities outside of the Arab world". On the 13th of December 2006, the US Channel Comedy Central had a piece on Al Jazeera on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart in which Ghida Fakhry was renamed 'Peppermint Gomez' to appeal to American audiences.
When asked how it feels to be one of the best known female anchors on a channel like Al Jazeera Fakhry responded:
"Being a television news anchor, I am presumably known but not necessarily well-known! I am first and foremost a journalist who happens to be a woman. A particular challenge for me in my current position is that I now work for a Middle Eastern network that has an international reach to English speakers across the world. The choice of words can be, at times, challenging due to the different interpretations each market will have as a result of their varying cultures, politics and history. Working for Al Jazeera in English is one of those rare opportunities one gets to bridge both cultures and to be part of a news organization that revolutionized the media landscape in the Arab world. It is now modernizing the way news gathering has worked for the past few years by redressing the flow of information and analysis from South to North and by breaking the monopoly a handful of western media outlets had on the flow of information."
We all have our bad days and yet, when you are on the air, it’s probably best not to show it. A natural yet certain amount of anxiety compels a high degree of concentration on the job at hand. The pressures, and therefore the responsibilities, vis-à-vis our audience is such that once the camera rolls, one is impelled to forget issues of one’s daily life – at least while on air."
When asked who the people are she looks up to in the profession she responded:
"If there is one person who inspires me, it’s Ted Turner as he transformed the television media by introducing continuous global news coverage. The appeal of the CNN concept is that it brings people from across the world together in one forum. It may well have been the first manifestation of what we call globalization today. I am also inspired by journalists whose work is a call of duty, a passion, and who do not sacrifice their journalistic integrity and who dare to challenge centers of power and authority."
What Fakhry would say to aspiring Middle Eastern female journalists?
"Believe in yourself, take risks and don’t be deterred by setbacks. The media industry is very competitive and employers are not necessarily altruistic; they are business people. Impose yourself as a journalist and forget that you’re a woman. Be also aware that the profession requires some sacrifices but don’t let your professional aspirations undermine your personal and family life. Journalism can be very rewarding but also addictive, so it is important to stay disciplined to exercise this fulfilling profession without letting it take over your life. And don’t forget that, no matter how successful you are, what you produce is a public good: the stories you tell can change people’s lives and make a real difference and that’s where your focus should always be."
Mini documentaries on Al Jazeera reveal the unknown lives of ordinary people, following their lives, telling their stories and portraying the challenges that confront them. The witnesses are people in a situation or those who have observed them first hand. These films cover conflict, belief, the past and the future and as well as bringing new stories to light as they showcase the talents of a new breed of multi-skilled, frontline journalist. In the studio, host Ghida Fakhry further delves into the issues raised in the films, with relevent guests on the subject matter and often the filmmakers themselves.
A hidden hunger is limiting the potential of millions of children around the world. Caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals, iron-deficiency anemia can impair physical and mental development, weaken the immune system and increase child mortality before the age of five. The Heinz Micronutrient Campaign is dedicated to preventing this hidden hunger. Through partnerships with governments and NGOs it is providing innovative, cost-effective solutions to give children the opportunity to lead healthy, productive lives.
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats...
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