Host of the Middle East Institute's 70th Annual Awards Banquet and Conference.
Dr. Bassem Youssef, dubbed the 'Jon Stewart of the Arab World,' was the host of popular TV show AlBernameg, the first of its kind political satire show in the Middle East. Originally a 5-minute show on YouTube, AlBernameg became the first online-to-TV conversion in the Middle East and the most watched show across the region, with 30 million viewers every week.
AlBernameg received wide acclaim around the world, with coverage in some of the biggest media outlets, topping it off with Youssef’s appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart twice in June 2012 and April 2013. In June 2013, Youssef hosted Jon Stewart on AlBernameg in Cairo, marking the second season’s peak.
Throughout its three seasons AlBernameg remained controversial through its humorous yet bold criticism of the ruling powers, which led to tens of lawsuits being filed against the show and its host. Youssef was even issued an arrest warrant in March 2013 and turned himself in the next day; he was questioned for five hours and released on bail. In recognition of his impact, Youssef was named on Time Magazine's "most influential" list for 2013, was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists, and was chosen by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the global thinkers during the same year.
During its third season, the show achieved unprecedented weekly viewership ratings for 11 consecutive weeks. But in June 2014, and after a six-week break, the AlBernameg team held a press conference where Youssef announced the termination of the show due to overwhelming pressures on both the show and the channel airing it. Bassem Youssef left Egypt a short time later.
In the spring of 2015 Youssef served as a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F Kennedy School of Government. During that time he appeared twice as a "Senior Middle East Correspondent" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, commenting satirically on the political situation in the region. He hosted the International Emmy Awards gala of 2015, as well as the 49th Carthage Film Festival in Tunis. Bassem Youssef appears currently in the digital series "The Democracy Handbook" for Fusion Network on its new digital platform F-Comedy. In March 2016, “Tickling Giants,” a documentary featuring Youssef’s story with AlBernameg, was announced as one of the competing entries at the Tribeca Film Festival for 2016.
Bassem Youssef majored in cardiothoracic surgery, passed the United States Medical License Exam (USMLE), and is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).
This individual is a guest contributor but is not an MEI-affiliated expert. We are not able to assist with contact requests.