WASHINGTON, DC – America Abroad Media (AAM) this week honored H.R.H. Princess Rym Ali of Jordan, journalist and the founder of the Jordan Media Institute (JMI) and Hend Sabry, a renowned Tunisian actress and producer – saluting them for spurring progress for their societies and cultures. The event also launched AAM’s Hollywood-Middle East Initiative, a new partnership with high-profile actors, producers, directors, and writers including David Zucker, Jack Bender and Jeff Fahey, which is working to empower and support local voices and offer narratives that counter voices of extremism in the Middle East.
“We believe the best approach is to partner with the leading media channels and creative talent because they have the most knowledge, the biggest following and can make the biggest difference,” said AAM’s founder and president, Dr. Aaron Lobel. “This is a unique opportunity to deepen our presence in the Middle East and conduct more workshops with the creative community there, all in an effort to advance positive values and a better world.”
The initiative brings top Hollywood talent as mentors – including creator of Airplane! David Zucker, Academy Award nominated actor Tom Berenger, Lost & Justified actor Jeff Fahey, Game of Thrones and The Sopranos director Jack Bender, Rome and Rough Riders writer & executive producer Bill MacDonald, writer & director Takers and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D John Luessenhop, NCIS: Los Angeles and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders writer Tim Clemente, among others – to the Middle East to lead workshops that help support local storytellers as they create compelling, original Arabic drama and entertainment content that advances universal values.
The workshops help to develop new relationships between the creative communities in the U.S. and the Middle East, and they lead to co-productions and content that advances common values and builds mutual understanding. Since the initiative’s launch, AAM has hosted multiple workshops in the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon among other locations. Next year, the initiative will expand efforts and hold workshops in locations including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
AAM established a Middle East Advisory Council to help oversee this rapidly expanding initiative. The Council is an exclusive group, made up of highly respected individuals from the media, arts and entertainment industry throughout the Middle East. Jordanian actress and producer Saba Mubarak spoke at the dinner on behalf of AAM’s Middle East Advisory Council.
Distinguished guests for the evening included AAM Co-Chairs General Michael Hayden and Dr. Peter Ackerman; former CEO of Paramount Pictures and MGM Studios Frank Mancuso, Sr., commander of Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) Major General Darsie D. Rodgers; former Congressman Mike Rogers and his wife Kristi Rogers, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Principal-to-Principal; Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY), Congressman Ed Royce (CA), Former Undersecretary of State of Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, Afghanistan Ambassador to the U.S. Hamdullah Mohib, Azerbaijan Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymanov, Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. Yasser Reda, UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, former Ambassador to Turkey Jim Jeffrey; Jordan Ambassador to the U.S. Dina Kawar; Tunisian Ambassador to the U.S. Fayaal Gouia, and Former Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalizad.
Established in 2013, AAM’s past honorees have included award-winning directors Kathryn Bigelow and Paul Greengrass; HBO’s critically acclaimed series, Homeland; Bollywood actor Aamir Khan; Saudi actor and comedian Nasser Al Qassabi; and CEO of twofour54 Abu Dhabi Noura Al Kaabi, among others.