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Wael Ghonim - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wael Ghonim

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Wael Ghonim
وائل غنيم
Born December 23, 1980 (1980-12-23) (age 30)
Cairo, Egypt
Disappeared Cairo, Egypt
Residence Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Nationality Flag of Egypt.svg Egypt
Ethnicity Arab (Egyptian)
Alma mater Cairo University (B.S.)
American University in Cairo (M.B.A.)
Occupation Head of Marketing of Google Middle East and North Africa
Internet Activist
Computer Engineer
Years active 1998-present
Employer Google Inc.
Children 2[1]

Wael Said Abbas Ghonim (Arabic: وائل سعيد عباس غنيم‎, IPA: [ˈwæːʔel sæˈʕiːd ʕæbˈbæːs ɣoˈneːm]) (born 23 December 1980 in Cairo, Egypt) is an Internet activist, computer engineer and since January 2010 the Head of Marketing of Google Middle East and North Africa.[2] In 2011, he became an international figure and energized pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt after his emotional interview[3] following 11 days of secret incarceration by Egyptian police.[4][5]




Wael Ghonim was born to a middle-class family on 23 December 1980 in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in the United Arab Emirates.[6]

He earned a computer engineering degree from Cairo University in 2004 and a MBA in marketing and finance from the American University in Cairo in 2007.[7]


Wael's career to date has included a period as a consultant to the development of the Egyptian e-government portal.


  • 1998–2002 — Helped in the launch of one of the most visited websites in the Arab world.[8]

2011 Egyptian protest Hero and Revolution pioneer

In January 2011, Ghonim persuaded Google to allow him to return to Egypt, citing a "personal problem".[14] After his arrival, he disappeared on 27 January 2011 during the nationwide unrest in Egypt. His family told Al-Arabiya and other international media that he was missing. Google also issued a statement confirming the disappearance. Many bloggers like Chris DiBona and Habib Haddad campaigned in an attempt to identify his whereabouts. On 5 February 2011, Mostafa Alnagar, a major Egyptian opposition figure[15], reported that Wael Ghonim was alive and detained by the authorities and to be released 'within hours'.[16] On 6 February 2011, Amnesty International demanded that the Egyptian authorities disclose where Ghonim was and to release him.[17]

Ghonim was released on 7 February, after 11 days in detention. Upon his release, he was greeted with cheers and applause when he stated: "We will not abandon our demand and that is the departure of the regime."[18]

The same day, Ghonim appeared on the Egyptian channel DreamTV on the 10:00 pm programme hosted by Mona El-Shazly. In the interview he praised the protesters and mourned the dead as the host read their names and showed their pictures, eventually rising, "overwhelmed," and walking off camera. The host followed.[19][20] In the interview, he also urged that they deserved attention more than he did, and calling for the end of the Mubarak regime, describing it again as 'rubbish'. He also asserted his allegiance to Egypt, saying that he would never move to the United States, the homeland of his wife.[21][22] Becoming a symbol of the revolution in Egypt,[23] Ghonim stated that he is "ready to die" for the cause.[24] "At the end ..., he gathered himself for a few seconds and tried to make the most of the platform [El-Shazly] had given him. 'I want to tell every mother and every father who lost a child, I am sorry, but this is not our mistake,' he said. 'I swear to God, it’s not our mistake. It’s the mistake of every one of those in power who doesn’t want to let go of it.'"[19]

On 9 February, Ghonim addressed the crowds in Tahrir Square, telling the protesters: "This is not the time for individuals, or parties, or movements. It's a time for all of us to say just one thing: Egypt above all."[25]

The scholar Fouad Ajami writes about the revolution:

"No turbaned ayatollah had stepped forth to summon the crowd. This was not Iran in 1979. A young Google executive, Wael Ghonim, had energized this protest when it might have lost heart, when it could have succumbed to the belief that this regime and its leader were a big, immovable object. Mr. Ghonim was a man of the modern world. He was not driven by piety. The condition of his country—the abject poverty, the crony economy of plunder and corruption, the cruelties and slights handed out to Egyptians in all walks of life by a police state that the people had outgrown and despaired of—had given this young man and others like him their historical warrant."[26]

Personal life

He is married to an American and has two children.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "Fears for Google employee in Egypt". 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  2. ^ "Wael Ghonim, Google’s Marketing Head Reportedly Missing In Egypt". The News Ny. 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  3. ^ "An interview with him on Dream TV 2 (Arabic)engl.subtitle". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  4. ^ "Google worker is Egypt’s Facebook hero". Financial Times. February 9 2011.
  5. ^ "Egypt crisis: the young revolutionaries who sparked the protests". The Telegraph. 11 Feb 2011.
  6. ^ "(in Arabic)". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  7. ^ "Wael Ghonim - Head of Marketing @ Google - Middle East & North Africa | LinkedIn". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  8. ^ "(in Arabic)" (in (Arabic)). 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  9. ^ a b "(in Arabic)". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  10. ^ "Re: Feasibility of advertising revenues (Online Advertising Discussion List Archives)". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  11. ^ "(in Arabic)". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  12. ^ "Update: Google MENA Marketing Head Wael Ghonim Apprehended in Egypt, Please Help Locate Him". ArabCrunch. 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  13. ^ "Mr. Wael Ghonim". MENA ICT Forum. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  14. ^ Profile: Egypt's Wael Ghonim BBC News 9 February 2011
  15. ^ Al-Anani, Khalil, “The Young Brotherhood in Search of a New Path”, Ikhwahweb: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website, October 6, 2009. Retrieved 2011-02-13. “[Y]oung Brotherhood bloggers started engaging in auto-critique and openly began criticizing the movement’s leadership, its organizational structures, and its rigid and out-dated political and religious discourse. Amwaj Fi Bahr al-Taghyir (Waves in the Sea of Change) is the most prominent of these blogs, and was established by the 29-year-old dentist and reformist Mustafa al-Naggar. During the 2005 elections, Naggar participated in the Brotherhood’s electoral campaign in the hopes of mobilizing people in support of Islamist candidates. However, he has since expressed disappointment over the Brothers’ poor showing in the elections, and his writing has begun to focus increasingly on how to transform the Brotherhood into a more open movement and a more effective political party. Naggar has been especially critical of the Brotherhood’s political platform, released in August 2007, and he has also attacked the approach of the older generation in dealing with local and regional issues.[11] Naggar’s blog additionally serves as a clearinghouse for links to other blog-based critiques of the Brotherhood.[12] “ Footnotes not included.
  16. ^ "Confirmation?? Rt @fustat: Mostafa Alnagar: Wael @Ghonim is alive & detained. We have promises that he will be released within hours". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  17. ^ "Fears for Google employee in Egypt | Amnesty International". 2010-05-31. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  18. ^ May, Theodore, "Regime won't halt, but rallies must, Egypt's VP says", USA Today, February 9, 2011 updated c. February 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
  19. ^ a b Fahim, Kareem and Mana El-Naggar; Liam Stack and Ed Ou contributed reporting, "Emotions of a Reluctant Hero Galvanize Protesters", The New York Times, February 8, 2011 (February 9, 2011 p. A14 NY ed.).
  20. ^ Mackey, RobertPublisher=The New York Times, Subtitled Video of Wael Ghonim’s Emotional TV Interview,
  21. ^ "Live blog Feb 7 - Egypt protests | Al Jazeera Blogs". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  22. ^ "Google: Exec held in Egypt protests has been freed, United States General News - Maktoob News". Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  23. ^ Husain, Ed (February 9, 2011). "Ghonim electrified Egypt's revolution". CNN. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  24. ^ King, John (February 9, 2011). "Ghonim: 'I'm ready to die'". CNN. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  25. ^ "Wael Ghonim addresses thousands in Tahrir Square (video)". The Guardian. February 9, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  26. ^
  27. ^ "وائل غنيم - المعرفة" (in (Arabic)). 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2011-02-08.

External links

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Wael Ghonim - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia