Carla Haddad: From 14-year-old model to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ celeb

Lebanese television presenter Carla Haddad was 14-years-old when she recorded her first television advertisement. She fell in love with the camera, and has grown into one of the most popular entertainers in Lebanon.

The television star spoke exclusively with Lebanese Examiner about her rise to fame. She focused on being genuine and performing from the heart, she said.

“I am not a person who just reads the teleprompter,” Haddad said in an Arabic interview. “I consider myself more of an entertainer, who speaks off the cuff, than a presenter.”

Haddad was born in Beirut to a loving family originally from Jezzine in South Lebanon. Her parents recognized her bubbly personality and enrolled her in child modeling programs.

At just 14-years-old, Haddad was modeling for television commercials and print advertisements. Her career only grew from there.

“After that, great opportunities kept rolling,” she said. “I had the chance to be part of a stand-up comedy group, an actress, and even a show host in Los Angeles.”

Haddad’s shows, among the most popular in the Middle East, included Carlalala, Ya Leil Ya Ein, Comedy Night and Helwi El Hayat.

She most recently co-hosted the Arab world version of Dancing with the Stars on MTV with television personality Wissam Breidy.

“I have worked hard in my life on building great content and becoming more of an entertainer,” Haddad added. “It’s not just about your appearance on the outside, but how you can connect with people on the inside.”

Haddad is passionate about keeping her fans updated on social media, and connecting with her viewers on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Sayegh becomes first Lebanese-American mayor in New Jersey town

Andre Sayegh was elected the first Lebanese-American mayor in Paterson, New Jersey during a Tuesday election, officials announced.

Sayegh, a Democrat, garnered 41 percent of the vote in a six-candidate field. His closest competitor Alex Mendez received 21 percent.

According to his online biography, Sayegh, 44, was a Paterson councilman and history teacher before he announced his bid for mayor. He ran on a ‘One Paterson’ platform, where he promised to promote diversity and connect with a cross-section of groups.

andre sayegh family

Sayegh, who speaks fluent Arabic, was born to a Lebanese father and Syrian mother, the Bergen Record reports. Many Lebanese and Syrian immigrants came to Paterson in the late 1800s to work in textile mills along the Passaic River.

Samer Khalaf, national president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Sayegh’s victory meant a lot for the Paterson area, which has a large population of Arab Americans.

“Here you have an old Arab community that’s been around for over 100 years,” Khalaf told the Bergen Record. “We never had a councilman until Andre won his first term. Now we have a mayor.”

Face of Defense: Lebanese-American airman gives back

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 24, 2017 — Air Force Staff Sgt. Fadi Chreim grew up in Lebanon, a small, picturesque country with nearly 200 miles of Mediterranean coastline to the west. Syria borders the country to the north and east, and Israel borders it to the south.

Lebanon has a rich history, with evidence of settlements there dated to before 5,000 B.C. Throughout its history, Lebanon has experienced many conflicts, resulting in a unique culture that borrows from the Persians, Greeks, Romans and others.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah, a militant group and political party based in Lebanon, captured two Israeli soldiers, resulting in Israel launching airstrikes on Lebanon. The intense fighting resulted in many deaths on both sides.

“It was the third war for me,” said Chreim, the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations dispatch chief here. “I’ve seen a lot of bombs and a lot of strikes, so I’m used to it.”

However, it was the first war his wife, Sandra, had experienced. She was born a U.S. citizen to Lebanese parents and spent time in both countries growing up.

“She convinced me to go to the U.S. embassy and apply for an immigration visa to come to the U.S. and give it a chance,” he explained.

Unfortunately, the embassy was closed, so he met with a counselor who gave him an immigration visa. He still had another obstacle to face. The airport was closed. He’d have to find another way of getting to the U.S.


Foreign governments from several countries, including the U.S., worked to evacuate the country during the conflict. Sailors and Marines from the Navy’s Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group helped transport U.S. citizens and family members to Cyprus. Chreim and his wife were among those transported to the small island.

“I said goodbye to my family [there],” he said. “I gave my mom a hug and my sisters. And I said I didn’t know what would happen, but I’m just going to take off from here.”

Their trip to the U.S. took ten days as they went from Cyprus to the Czech Republic to New York and, finally, Florida, Chreim said. They arrived in their new country with the clothes on their backs, a credit card, a thousand dollars in cash and not much else. He knew he had to find a job quickly.

Chreim learned by trial and error how life worked in the U.S., including how to apply for college, rent a house and apply for jobs.

After nearly five months of searching for work, he eventually landed a job at a Walgreen’s pharmacy. He walked into the store and asked the manager for a job doing whatever was needed, whether it be stocking shelves or running the cash register. The manager, however, saw greater potential in Chreim after looking at his resume and decided to offer him a job as an assistant store manager.

He and his wife could now rent a house, lease a car and begin building a life in the U.S.

Growing Family, Responsibilities

A couple years later, Sandra gave birth to their first child, a daughter. It was at this moment that Chreim realized he had a greater purpose to his life, and he looked for better opportunities to provide for his family.

He decided that he would need to attend college; however, since his all of his earlier schooling was in Lebanon, he would first need to attend one year of English classes.

Around this time, Sandra gave birth to their second child, a son. She stayed at home to take care of the newborn while Chreim continued to work and go to school.

“My family counted on me to provide,” he said. “It took me a lot of stress, a lot of dedication, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of nights that I went without sleep in order for me to graduate college.”

Chreim began settling into his new life as an American, especially after becoming a naturalized citizen in 2009; however, he still sensed something was missing. He felt an intense need to give back to a country that had provided him the opportunity to go to college and build a career. It was at this point he decided to join the military.

At first, he wanted to join the National Guard, but his wife was worried about him returning as a soldier to the wars similar to those they left behind when they fled Lebanon. Still, Chreim had a deep desire to serve his country. He and his wife decided the Air Force Reserve would be the most beneficial choice for their family.

Aiming for Commissioning

He took time off work and school to attend Air Force basic training, and decided shortly after graduation that he wanted to become an officer. But to become an officer, he’d first have to finish college.

“I made graduation a must for me,” Chreim said. “I made it a plan. I said I was going to graduate in 2016. I’m not going to take more time. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”

He started taking more classes and pushed himself even harder. It paid off. He graduated in 2016 from Florida Atlantic University. That same year, he applied for the Deserving Airman Commissioning Program, which gives enlisted service members the opportunity to commission as officers.

“I fell shy about ten points on the [Air Force Officer Qualification Test] for the verbal section. Since English isn’t my first language, I struggle with the vocabulary. Everything else — the navigation, the math, the physics — I aced it.”

He is now deployed from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, where he is responsible for the logistics of moving people around base.

On his desk sits a stack of vocabulary flashcards and an AFOQT preparation book. Chreim studies this material as much possible during the deployment and hopes to take the test again next month and reapply for the program.

“If it happens, it’s a dream come true,” Chreim said. “If it doesn’t happen, I gave all and I gave it my best shot.”

And giving it his best shot is what Chreim’s experience in the U.S. has been about from the start. He believes that everyone gets the same opportunity and that it comes down to what a person does with these opportunities that truly matters.

“You hold it and you run with it and it’s about how far you can go,” he said. “That’s what I like about the U.S. It made me want to give back. Part of me wanted to put on that uniform just to say. ‘Thank you.’”

By Air Force Senior Airman Andrew Park, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, US Department of Defense

Lebanese teen developer wins scholarship from Apple

(LOS ANGELES) — 14-year-old Lebanese student Jake al-Mir was the youngest iOS developer to receive a scholarship from the tech giant Apple Inc., according to a report published Thursday in Lebanon’s An-Nahar.

The newspaper said al-Mir was awarded the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference scholarship for developing an app to combat speeding. The scholarship includes complimentary admission to the developers conference, which takes annually place in San Francisco, California. It is normally $1,599 to attend.

al-Mir’s creation, registered as NoSpeed in the App Store, aims to decrease car accidents by alerting drivers when they exceed a set speed limit. A posted YouTube video shows how the app sounds an alarm warning drivers to slow down.

The young developer said he was inspired to create the app in response to the large number of car accidents in Lebanon. However, he hopes the app can be beneficial to users worldwide.

Most traffic accidents in Lebanon were caused by the drivers themselves, a 47 percent majority, according to a study conducted by Dr. Elias Choueiri of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

al-Mir said it took him nine months to develop the app, which was later registered through the iOS Developer Program. The ambitious teen, who attends school at Collège des Saints-Coeurs Kfarhbab, also developed a game called Emoji Escape when he was 12-years-old.

“I would like to have my own company, not just aimed at developing apps, but also at manufacturing technological products,” he told Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Anba“I would also like to work for Apple.”

al-Mir is among 350 scholarship recipients in all, a jump from 200 offered last year. Developers must be 13 or older to enter the scholarship program, according to Apple’s website.

Lebanese-American engineer receives White House honor

(WASHINGTON, DC) — A Lebanese-American engineer will be honored at the White House on Tuesday for inventing a composite arch bridge system, known as the “Bridge-in-a-Backpack.”

Dr. Habib Dagher, founding director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, will be recognized as a “2015 White House Transportation Champion of Change.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will recognize 11 of the nation’s top transportation innovators for their exemplary leadership in advancing transportation in the country.

“Maine has benefited in so many ways from Habib Dagher’s leadership at the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center,” U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, said. “From Bridge in a Backpack to the VolturnUS wind-power project, the brilliant innovations he has developed are opening many economic opportunities for the state’s future.”

Dagher, who was nominated by the American Society of Civil Engineers to receive the award, has been named on 24 patents with 8 more pending.

“In his 30 years at the University of Maine, Habib has embodied the teaching, research and community engagement efforts at the heart of Maine’s research university,” Susan Hunter, University of Maine president, said. “In all these efforts, he has engaged hundreds of students — tomorrow’s workforce — and created jobs.”


The Composite Arch Bridge System is a lightweight, corrosion resistant system for short to medium span bridge construction using composite arch tubes that start out flat and packed in a bag.

The tubes are inflated and bent to any curvature over a mold and infused with a resin. The tubes can cure in three hours, resulting in a lightweight curved hollow arch twice as strong as steel, which is then filled with concrete on site.

UMaine has licensed the composite arch bridge technology to a private start-up company, Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT), who designs and builds these bridges.

Some roadway bridges have been built in less than two weeks, including the time it takes to remove the existing structure – this means less road closures and traffic disruptions.

In 2014, the Composite Arch Bridge system was approved in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) bridge code, the first FRP composite bridge system to be approved in the US bridge design code.

The White House Champions of Change Program honors Americans who are empowering and inspiring other members of their communities.

Lebanese entrepreneurs launch virtual closet app

(BEIRUT) — As clothing lines rush to adapt to emerging fashion markets in the Middle East, an enterprising Lebanese duo are empowering women to help influence clothing brands and craft their next outfit.

Nour El Assaad and Loubna Ibrahim are co-founders of TopShou, a social interactive mobile app with an ambitious mission to help women solve the most pressing question — what to wear?

The app allows users to upload photos of their clothes into a virtual closet, and mix-and-match tops, bottoms, and accessories into their daily outfits. They can also share outfits with their friends and scroll through one another’s wardrobe.

“Fashion really has no age because individual style never gets old or young,” El Assaad said. “Our goal is to empower a woman’s style by giving her more resources.”

Experts believe the average woman spends 16 minutes digging through her wardrobe every weekday morning. El Assaad said she hopes TopShou will help women save time and stay à la mode.

“Making a daily fashion statement is easy with TopShou,” she said.

The free app was launched to iOS users on Aug. 20 at the UK Lebanon Tech Hub in Beirut. El Assaad and Ibrahim are part of an emerging wave of young Lebanese entrepreneurs entering the start-up scene in the Middle East.

“We’re seeing changes you’ve never seen before in the Arab world,” El Assaad said. “We trying to breakthrough and join the huge boom in startups, especially here in Lebanon.”

Beirut’s entrepreneurial culture is rapidly growing into a powerhouse for tech startups and business incubators. Lebanon’s Central Bank recently added $400 million into the startup tech economy through its “Circular 331″ initiative — a project to help stimulate the startup economy with seven-year interest-free credit incentives.

But some entrepreneurs worry the political climate and presidential stalemate hampers potential growth. BBC World News estimates Lebanon has one of the slowest Internet connections in the world.

“It’s not affecting us,” El Assaad said. “Actually it’s the opposite; Lebanon has helped us grow and market to a more diverse group.”

In March, TopShou won third place at the ArabNet Ideathon Competition during a creative arts conference in Beirut. El Assaad believes the growing tech industry has encouraged them to be innovative.

“Our biggest challenge was creating the app, and we already created the app,” she said. “Our second challenge was getting people to believe in us, but we already have people believing in us.”

TopShou founder Loubna Ibrahim came up with the app as part of a university thesis project. (Photo via
TopShou founder Loubna Ibrahim came up with the app as part of a university thesis project. (Photo via

El Assaad admits app marketing and user growth could take time, but she views the market potential as a confidence boost.

“We did a huge market research to know what’s the trend,” she said. “We’ve watched everything; we know what people want in the fashion industry.”

The app will be available in other languages and on Android devices after the pilot phase, El Assaad added. A similar platform for men is also in the works.

“After the three-month pilot phase we will launch new projects,” she said. “Soon users can seek fashion advice for a small price.”

The app will also add an eCommerce platform which will redirect users to sites that sell apparel and accessories.

El Assaad and Ibrahim have been working closely with the app development team at Ideatolife on coding and app logistics. El Assaad already manages a busy schedule as a marketing professional and founder of a Lebanese anti-bullying NGO.

“I prefer to put titles aside and say that me and Loubna (Ibrahim) do everything together,” she said. “We’re a dynamic duo.”

To download the TopShou app, click here.

WATCH Nour El Assaad explain the story behind TopShou:

President Obama honors Lebanese entrepreneur

(WASHINGTON, DC) — U.S. President Barack Obama honored Lebanese entrepreneur Ziad Sankari for creating innovative heart technology during a White House global entrepreneurship event on May 11.

The White House invited emerging entrepreneurs from around the world to highlight the importance of investing in young businesspeople and innovative solutions. Sankari was among only five others who were honored.

Sankari started CardioDiagnostics in 2012, several years after losing his father to a heart attack. He pursued studies in understanding the electrical activity of the heart and how monitoring and analyzing that activity can save lives.

Today, his company uses FDA-approved wearable devices that are 24/7 GPS-enabled heart rate monitors allowing for heart monitoring centers to communicate diagnostic and preventive information to patients in the United States and Lebanon. The center has more than 40 employees.

In 2008, Sankari attended Ohio State University on a U.S. Fulbright scholarship. After returning to Lebanon, he was selected to pitch his idea at the 2011 Global Innovation through Science and Technology’s (GIST) Tech-I competition where he won first place.

Sankari received his first round of seed funding and traveled through various U.S. cities to expand his network, learn how to negotiate, and connect with mentors. Given his experiences, Sankari sees education as essential to successful entrepreneurship and to combat rising issues of poverty and extremism.

He hopes to support other startups and build a high-performing educational system in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East that leverages U.S. expertise and connections to open a world of opportunities to younger generations.

The event comes ahead of the President’s travel to this summer’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya and provides a unique opportunity to galvanize global attention on emerging women and young entrepreneurs.

Guest speakers during the event included Shark Tank stars Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, and Daymond John. The White House also named nine other top American entrepreneurs as Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, according to a news release.

WATCH President Obama recognize Sankari:

Ali Jawad: From Soccer to Service

(DEARBORN, MI) — It’s no secret that Dearborn-based businessman Ali Jawad likes to stay active. Even during Ramadan, the hands-on and self-made entrepreneur jogs for six miles per day.

In between exercises and frequent soccer matches, Jawad manages Armada Oil, one of Michigan’s largest motor fuel distributors which he founded in 1982. But he rarely speaks of his financial and professional success.

Jawad would rather talk about his philanthropic success and ambitious vision to create a gathering place for Lebanese-Americans in Dearborn, Mich., which is home to the largest concentrated Arab population outside of the Middle East.

But admittedly, philanthropic success didn’t come easy.

As Jawad describes, mobilizing the Lebanese community often presented more challenges than operating a major business.

“On many occasions we told the community that if you lose your heritage, you lose your identity,” he said. “We had many challenges, but it eventually stuck with people.”

From Soccer to Service

In the early 1980’s, Jawad and a few friends started “Dearborn Stars,” a local soccer team created to stay active and pass time. Although it was entertaining and engaging for a couple of months, Jawad was called in a different direction.

“I was reading that all these Lebanese from around the world were starting Lebanese clubs,” said Jawad. “So I looked at the guys and said let’s start one.”

From there, the Lebanese-American Heritage Club (LAHC) was born.

The Lebanese American Heritage Club community center is located on Maple Street in Dearborn. (Lebanese Examiner/Charlie Kadado)
The Lebanese American Heritage Club community center is located on Maple Street in Dearborn. (Lebanese Examiner/Charlie Kadado)

Since 1989, the organization has given over $1.5 million in scholarships for deserving Lebanese-American students.

But it didn’t start that way.

Jawad recalls facing pushback from some community members who labeled him as a “right-winger” for his Lebanese patriotism.

“People started accusing me and putting labels on me,” he said. “But my goal was to end the discussion of politics and stop our self-created divisions.”

That’s when Jawad called on Lebanese youth to come forward and take leadership roles in community activities.

“We told the older generations that LAHC has no Amal, no Kataeb,” he said, referring to opposing political factions in Lebanon. “We told them if you want to get involved in politics, go fight in the Republican or Democratic arena.”

The Lebanese-American Heritage Club (LAHC) offices proudly display the flags of the United States, Lebanon, and state of Michigan. (Lebanese Examiner/Charlie Kadado)
The Lebanese-American Heritage Club (LAHC) offices proudly display the flags of the United States, Lebanon, and state of Michigan. (Lebanese Examiner/Charlie Kadado)

Jawad wanted to see the Arab community more involved in American affairs. He said he emphasized involvement on “both wings” — both American and Lebanese community involvement.

“America is built on immigration,” Jawad said. “But for Arab-Americans we had to double our resources because of all the problems in the Middle East.”

Jawad said “doubling” resources began with encouraging undergraduate and post-graduate education.

“We started giving out four scholarships and it naturally kept growing and growing,” said Jawad. “We started getting American corporations involved and American politicians and it grew to a whole new level.”

Encouraging Future Leaders

Today, LAHC is one of the largest and most respected Lebanese-American organizations in the country. Jawad gives credit to many community supporters who helped craft his vision, including former Consul General of Lebanon Nasrat El Assaad.

But more importantly, Jawad credits future generations of Lebanese-Americans for continuing the organization’s legacy and contributing to its global success.

Ali Jawad said he's proud to support future generations of Lebanese-Americans in Michigan. (Lebanese Examiner/Charlie Kadado)
Ali Jawad said he’s proud to support future generations of Lebanese-Americans in Michigan. (Lebanese Examiner/Charlie Kadado)

“My proudest moments is when I see the youth get a scholarship and do something positive,” he said. “I’m always proud to see the next generation go to college, open businesses, and take leadership positions.”

Hussein Hachem, founder of the Youth Leadership Committee of LAHC, is one of them.

“For me, LAHC is a place for common ground,” said Hachem. “It’s a place where we can be proud of our community and grow together.”

Jawad said his vision can only improve in the hands of community members like Hachem. This year the organization will award $103,000 in scholarships to 43 students of high academic distinction at the 27th Annual Awards Gala on May 8.

“You never know when you start something where it will end up,” said Jawad. “Sometimes you see success from the angels.”

AUB appoints Lebanese-American Dr. Fadlo Khuri as new president

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The American University of Beirut (AUB) has voted to elect Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, as the 16th president of the university.

Dr. Khuri, who has been an AUB trustee since 2014, is presently Chairman of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

He will be installed as the successor to Dr. Peter Dorman, who has served AUB since his appointment in March 2008.

The announcement followed an intensive international search commissioned by the AUB Board of Trustees that included direct input from AUB faculty, staff, and global alumni communities.

AUB Board Chairman Dr. Philip S. Khoury, who co-chaired the search committee with Trustee Dr. Huda Zoghbi, said they were searching for a candidate that had international recognition and proven ability.

“The committee was particularly attentive to the needs of the university as defined by its own constituents,” Khoury said. “We found great consistency in the attributes AUB students, faculty, alumni, and other stakeholders identified as critical for the university’s leadership and we are completely confident that Dr. Khuri embodies those attributes.”

Dr. Khuri was born in Boston, Massachusetts and brought up in Beirut, where he attended AUB from 1981-82. He moved to the US in 1982, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University, in New Haven, CT, and his MD from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, NY.

He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Boston City Hospital, Boston, MA, and his fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Tufts-New England Medical Center.

“President-elect Khuri is a highly accomplished educator and researcher and an articulate voice on the imperative of liberal arts education in the Arab world,” said Khoury. “Equally important, he is a person of profound personal integrity.”

Dr. Khuri has led the recruitment of over 90 faculty including 60 clinical investigators to Emory University, helping oversee an increase in adult cancer patients from 143 in 2002 to over 650 in 2014.

“It is a genuine honor and a privilege to have been selected to lead AUB into its 150th year,” said Dr. Khuri. “The legacy of this remarkable, world class institution is evident in the breadth and depth of contributions its faculty, students and alumni have made to every aspect of life in Lebanon, the region and the world.”

Incumbent President Peter Dorman, who announced his intention to resign in June of last year, will take a sabbatical with the intention to return to the AUB faculty in 2016.

Michigan governor taps Lebanese-American to serve as state treasurer

(DETROIT, MI) — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder named Lebanese-American businessman Nick Khouri the new state treasurer, who will replace outgoing treasurer Kevin Clinton, according to Snyder’s press office.

Nick Khouri.

“Nick’s expertise in tax policies and financial issues will be a great asset as we continue working to reinvent state government,” Snyder said. “His strong track record of proven service in both the private and public sectors will be essential in this critical state role.”

Khouri, 57, previously served as senior vice president of corporate affairs at DTE Energy in Detroit, where he oversaw governmental and regulatory relations and community affairs.

He also served as vice president of Public Sector Consultants, where he focused on public infrastructure and state and local tax policy. In the 1990s, Khouri was the state’s chief deputy treasurer and chief economist of the Senate Fiscal Agency.

State records show Khouri has been a registered lobbyist for DTE since 2012, which drew criticism from some Democrats.

“Putting a registered lobbyist in charge of all taxpayer dollars is no way to create public trust in government,” said Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson.

Khouri earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from University of Michigan and a master’s degree in economics from Michigan State University.

Khouri’s appointment is effective April 20. His annual salary will be $174,204, according to state records.

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