Top Arab Stars on the Global Stage Revealed

  • For the first time, Forbes measures the success of globally-recognized Arab celebrities
  • Mohamad Salah, the Egyptian king tops the sports category
  • Karim Kharbouch, known as French Montana from Morocco is the best singer in the Arab world
  • Nadine Labaki who hails from Lebanon is one of the famous filmmakers in the Arab World
  • Elie Saab is the best fashion designer from Lebanon

Forbes has published a new annual ranking unveiling the biggest and most successful “Arab Stars on the Global Stage”. The lists, which include singers, directors, fashion designers, actors and footballers, reveal the influence that these Arab stars wield globally and indicate their popularity among the masses.

Forbes Middle East explored the work and growth of these celebrities over the last two years to determine their position within the rankings. Celebrities from the Levant and North Africa featured on the list. 15 Lebanese featured on the list followed by five Egyptians and two Moroccans.

Khuloud Al Omian, Editor in Chief, Forbes Middle East, said: “Arab talent has spread across the globe and many stars are making their mark as globally-recognized entertainers. Arab celebrities today entertain a large international audience—they are making it onto the Billboard charts, being recognized at global film festivals, and winning large film projects and endorsements.”

Arab Stars on the Global Stage

The top 5 singers:

  1. Karim Kharbouch, Grammy award nominee is a Moroccan-American artist. He is otherwise known as French Montana
  2. Tamer Hosny is the Egyptian artist and the first Arab star to feature at Hollywood’s iconic Chinese Theatre. He has performed in over 15 concerts outside the Arab world since 2016.
  3. Elissa, who hails from Lebanon, is known as the queen of romance, has sold over 30 million albums and has performed in live concerts globally. 
  4. Douzi is Moroccan pop singer and famous for the single song “Lmouja” has had over 31 million views on YouTube
  5. Ragheb Alama has conducted over 14 concerts outside the Arab world since 2016. He is the Middle East brand ambassador for the watch brand- Hublot.

The top 5 Directors:

  1. Nadine Labaki is an award winning Lebanese director, who won the jury prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival for her film Capharnaum
  2. Zaid Doueiri, also from Lebanon, and best known for his Oscar nominated movie- The Insult, followed second. The movie was also selected for the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival 2017.
  3. Abu Bakr Shawky, whose film Youmeddine earned him an entry to the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Francois Chalais Award. The film also was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or.
  4. Naji Abu Nowar is the Jordanian Director who is known for his movie Theeb, which received an Oscar nomination for the foreign language film in 2016 marking the first Academy Award nomination for Jordan.
  5. Basil Khalil, a director and writer for the short fil Ave Maria was nominated at Oscars and Palme d’Or for the Best Live Action Short Film in 2016.

Top 5 Fashion Designers:

  1. Elie Saab is listed as the world’s top Arab fashion designer, with global icons such as Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie and Katy Perry choosing his designs.
  2. Reem Acra the Lebanese designer and Fashion Arabia Star judge has participated in 80 to 100 international fashion shows so far.
  3. Zuhair Murad is a regular participant at the Paris Fashion Week and has participated in more than 35 international fashion shows.
  4. Rabih Kayrouz is the founder of the famous fashion house—Maison Rabih Kayrouz. The Lebanese designer has participated in Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week and in 18 international fashion shows.
  5. Georges Hobeika has become one of the best red-carpet couturiers in the world after international celebrities like Adriana Lima, Heidi Klum, Fan Bing Bing, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez choose his designs.

Arab Stars on the Global Stage- Actors:

  1. Sofia Boutella, Algerian dancer, model and actress, who has starred in movies such as Kingsman: The Secret ServiceStar Trek Beyond and The Mummy, tops the actors’ category.
  2. Amr Waked from Egypt who rose to fame globally after starring in Scarlet Johansson’s movie Lucy.
  3. Ghassan Massoud from Syria is known for his role in The Kingdom of Heaven and Pirates of the Caribbean, was ranked third in the list. 

Arab Stars on the Global Stage- Sports:

  1. Mohammed Salah—known as the Egyptian King—tops the sports category.

Stars with Arab Roots:

Forbes Middle East also drew up a list of world renowned celebrities of Arab origin. Below are top three stars with Arab roots, who were all born and raised outside the Arab world.

  1. Shakira, the Columbian singer, songwriter and dancer who is listed among the world’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the world, tops the list.
  2. DJ Khaled, a radio personality, DJ, record label executive and author who was ranked 9th on the list of top hip hop earners by Forbes with an estimated income of $24 million, comes second.
  3. Model Gigi Hadid, who was ranked as the 5th highest paid model in the world by Forbes, takes the third place.

The complete lists can be viewed on our website:



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