20+ Most Successful Members Of The Lebanese Diaspora

Forbes | SEAN KILPATRICK/CANADIAN PRESS

The Lebanese diaspora has grown to be a central part of Lebanon’s culture, economy, and the evolving Lebanese identity.

It spans to more than 28 countries with at least 10 million members- more than 2x the population of Lebanon itself.

More than just size, however, the diaspora is notable for its overwhelming success: Lebanese and their descendants around the world are famous for their ability to make the most out of their situations in order to reach stunning levels of acclamation, fortune, fame, and influence.

Having excelled in a multitude of fields, here are just some examples of members of the Lebanese Diaspora in no particular order.

#1 Dany Thomas

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Today marks the birthday of one of Lucy’s favorite people to work with, Dean Martin. Dean Martin was born on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio (also the hometown of Fred Mertz). Lucy first worked with Dean when he and Jerry Lewis were the hottest comedy team in the country and she guest starred on the premiere of their radio show in 1949. Lucy and Desi became friends with Dean and his wife, Jeanne, and the Arnazes served as godparents to the Martins’ son, Dean Paul (“Dino”). In the mid-1960s, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Dino formed a successful teen rock group, Dino, Desi & Billy. In 1966, Lucy and Dean exchanged guest appearances on each other’s television programs. Lucy guest starred on “The Dean Martin Show” and she would later make a few cameo appearances over the years. Dean played a dual role in “The Lucy Show” episode “Lucy Dates Dean Martin.” Lucy would later say this was her favorite episode of all her series. Despite their different styles of working — Dean hated to rehearse and Lucy loved it — Lucy adored working with Dean. Lucy would enlist Dean to be her co-star in her second post-“Here’s Lucy” special, “Lucy Gets Lucky,” which was filmed on location at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At the same hotel, Lucy participated in several “Dean Martin Celebrity Roast” shows and was even the “Woman of the Hour” on one occasion. Like many who knew him, Lucy considered Dean to be one of the funniest people in show business and she was always delighted with Dean whom she described as her favorite performer and “a living doll.” #lucilleball #deanmartin #thelucyshow #thedeanmartinshow #lucygetslucky #lucydatesdeanmartin #deanmartincelebrityroast #dinodesiandbilly #martinandlewis #ratpack #lasvegas #mgmgrand #sands #franksinatra #sammydavisjr #garymorton #dannythomas #jackentratter #katesmith #crooner #classictv #sitcom #tvvariety #classichollywood #thelucylounge

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Dany Thomas was an American comedian, actor, and philanthropist. He is famously known for his sitcoms The Dany Thomas Show and Make Room For Daddy, and won multiple primetime Emmy awards and other adulations throughout his career.

His legacy also lives on due to his incredible philanthropic work which included founding St.Jude’s Hospital.

St. Jude’s is a major research hospital with the intent to advance cures for catastrophic diseases, namely cancer, and with a mission to never deny a child treatment based on their race, religion, or ability to pay.

St. Jude’s was also heartwarmingly made possible by an Arab-American association, ALSAC, which to this day is the primary funder of the hospital and is America’s largest health-care charity.

#2 Carlos Slim

Carlos Slim Helu is a Mexican businessman and investor. From 2010 to 2013, he was named the richest man in the world by Forbes.

His current net worth is estimated at $53.8 billion, most of which he amassed through his conglomerate Grupo Carso that owns many Mexican companies, most notably in the telecommunications sector.

He has visited his hometown of Jezzine and made promises to help Lebanese youth. He was awarded the Lebanese Gold Merit in 2010 and the National Award of the Cedar in 2008.

#3 Elias Courey

Elias Corey is an American-Lebanese organic chemist and professor at Harvard University who won the 1990 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He was awarded for developing the theory and methodology behind organic synthesis.

He has won a plethora of other awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Chemical Pioneer Award, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest living chemists.

#4 Jacques Saadé

Jacques Saadé was a French-Lebanese businessman who founded and chaired CGA CGM, the 4th largest container and transportation company in the world. His worth was estimated at $7 billion prior to his passing away.

He served as the President of the Franco-Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and he was named a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in 2015.

His son and predecessor, Rodolphe, founded the Hub Digital Center in Beirut to support Lebanese youth.

#5 Carlos Ghosn

Despite that he’s currently a highly controversial case, Carlos Ghosn is a Lebanese-French businessman and CEO with an impressive record of success.

He has served as the chairman of Michelin North America, AvtoVAZ, Mitsubishi Motors, Renault, and Nissan, as well as overseeing the groundbreaking merger between Mitsubishi, Renault, and Nissan.

He is nicknamed “Mr. Fix It” for his ability to cut costs and turn companies around, and has achieved celebrity status in the business and motor world.

#6 Mona Nemer

Mona Nemer is a Canadian-Lebanese scientist, born in Beirut, who currently serves as the Chief Science Advisor to Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

She specializes in molecular genetics and cardiac regeneration, held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in cardiovascular cell differentiation, and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2014.

#7 Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American hedge fund manager, risk analyst, and essayist.

Taleb was born in Amioun and attended Lyceé in Beirut before moving to America.

Taleb was managing director at Credit Suisse UBS, founder of Empirica Investments, and is currently a senior advisor for Universa Investments. He is a pioneer of tail risk hedging (protecting black swan investments).

 His book Black Swan, which is widely praised and viewed as a predictor for the 2008 financial crisis, has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages.

#8 Amal Clooney

Amal Alamuddin Clooney is a Lebanese-British barrister and specialist in human rights and international law.

She has led multiple high-profile cases, including representing Julian Assange (founder of WikiLeaks), the state of Cambodia, and serving as an advisor to the King of Bahrain.

She counts Nobel Prize winners and former prime ministers as her clients and currently serves as a special envoy on media freedom for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

She also is a socialite and a humanitarian. She and her husband George Clooney recently donated to the Lebanese Food Bank.

#9/10 Sal Slaiby and Rima Fakih

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Sal Slaiby and Rima Fakih are a Lebanese power couple.

Sal, or Wassim,  is a Lebanese-Canadian record executive and talent manager. He is the CEO of XO Records and the manager of artists and producers including The Weeknd, French Montana, Metro Boomin, and Massari.

He has been recognized by Billboard Power twice, spoken at Brilliant Minds alongside Barack Obama and Evan Spiegl, and currently serves as Anghami’s head of international partnerships.

Rima Fakih is an American-Lebanese beauty queen who in 2010 became the first-ever Lebanese-American (and Arab-American) to win the Miss USA pageant.

She is now the national director of Miss Universe Lebanon and a philanthropist who was named the 2020 ambassador of the year by The Children’s Cancer Center in Lebanon.

Rima and Sal were both born in Lebanon and returned to their home country to wed in 2016 in a ceremony presided over by the Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutrous al-Rahi.

#11 Debra Cafaro

Debra Cafaro is an American business executive. She is the chair and CEO of Ventas, Inc., a healthcare and real estate investment trust with an estimated value of $37 billion.

She is widely credited for having turned the company around and helping it succeed after joining it when it was in dire financial shape.

She has been named the Top Performing Woman CEO by Forbes and consecutively named one of the best performing CEOs by the Harvard Business Review.

#12 Nicolas Hayek

Nicolas Hayek was a Lebanese-American Swiss businessman. He co-founded and chaired The Swatch Group, famous for its name-brand Swatch, as well as owning Calvin Klein and Omega, among others.

He also was influential in the creation of the Mercedes Smart Car. He was regarded as a business titan and was worth billions of dollars prior to his passing away.

#13/14 Noah Shebib and Oliver el-Khatib

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You definitely know who Drake is, and most probably have found yourself irresistibly singing along to any number of his catchy songs. But did you know the two people behind his success are Lebanese?

Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver el-Khatib are the cofounders of the OVO label Drake fronts.

Noah, or “40”, is Drake’s full-time producer who helped create and push his unique sound to worldwide notoriety and fame. He has also collaborated with other famous artists such as Lil Wayne and Alicia Keys.

Oliver is Drake’s manager, head of the team, and head of the OVO clothing line, credited for the ingenious marketing strategies that helped blow Drake up. He also helped discover talents like The Weeknd and PartyNextDoor.

Together, Noah and Oliver have helped to create and expand upon one of the most innovative and successful record labels and brands.

#15 Shakira

Shakira Mebarak, known as Shakira, is a Colombian superstar singer, dancer, and philanthropist. She shot to fame internationally in 2001 after having already reached success within the Hispanic world.

She has sold 75 million records worldwide, won 3 Grammy Awards, 4 MTV Music Awards, 39 Billboard Latin Music Awards, and 6 Guinness World Record awards, among others.

She has performed three times at the FIFA World Cup and once at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

She has shown an attachment to her Lebanese origin, which musical beats and cadences she includes in her performance. That’s in addition to her trips to Lebanon.

#16 Bazzi

Bazzi, or Andrew Bazzi, is an American singer and songwriter. He gained popularity through his song Mine.

His following albums Cosmic and Soul Searching fared greatly critically and commercially with hit singles including Beautiful, Paradise, and I.F.L.Y.

He currently has a record deal with Atlantic Records, a social media following of well over 2 million people, and is on the rise to being the world’s next superstar.

#17 Lucille Salhany

 Simon Simard

Lucille Salhany is an American media executive who served as chairwoman of Fox Broadcasting Company (the first woman to hold that top position for the broadcast network) before leaving to create the United Paramount Network.

She is a pioneer for women in the entertainment industry and at the height of her career was one of the most powerful female media executives. She has adopted two sons from Beirut and serves on the board of ALSAC.

#18 Edward Seaga

Edward Phillip George Seaga was a Jamaican politician and musician. He served as the 5th prime minister of Jamaica from 1980 to 1989 and is credit for having helped build the country’s financial and planning infrastructure.

He is affectionately remembered as “Papa Eddie” in the famous island country.

He also was heavily involved in the development of arts and crafts and was the owner and founder of West Indies Records Limited, a major developer of the Jamaican music industry.

#19 Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek is a Mexican-American actress, producer, and activist. She has starred in a wide range of blockbuster movies, from Grown Ups to the critically acclaimed Traffic.

Her role as the titular character in Frida earned her an Academy Award nomination, as well as a nomination from the BAFTA, Golden Globes, Screen Guild Actors, and more.

She also is an activist for women’s rights and empowerment. She visited Lebanon in 2015 to promote her role in the movie adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, describing her role as a “love letter to her heritage”.

#20 Rony Seikaly

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Can’t believe this poster is still around 🇱🇧

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Rony Seikaly is a Lebanese-American former professional basketball player. He played for the NBA after being drafted by the Miami Heat. He would go on to play for many other teams including the Golden State Warriors and the Orlando Magic.

He received the NBA’s 1990 Most Improved Player award and set countless records for the teams he played with. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential international figures in professional American basketball.

He is now a DJ and hosts a radio show called “Sugar Free Radio” as well as playing shows around the world.

#21 Geoff Johns

Geoff Johns is an American comic book writer, screenwriter, and producer.

He served as the President and Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment from 2010 to 2018, before stepping down to create his own production company, Mad Ghost Productions.

He has been involved in the making and production of multiple famous TV shows and movies, including Aquaman, Wonder Woman 1984, Green Lantern, Justice League, The Flash, and many more.

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