Bassem Youssef

Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian comedian and columnist and former cardiothoracic surgeon.

He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, where he also earned his PhD. In cardiothoracic surgery, and worked shortly as a professor. He traveled to the United States and Europe to work in the cardiac surgery and transplant technologies field, and earned his surgeon license in the United Stated in 2005, Bassem's breakthrough in comedy was through his satirical show “The B+ Show,” that was inspired by the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, which he launched on Youtube to earn five million views in less than three months. He went on to sign with the Egyptian satellite channel ONTV, where he started hosting “Al Bernameg” (The Program), with a budget of half a million dollars. The show was then renewed for a second season on another channel, CBC, and the production studio was changed to Radio Theater in Cairo. The second season consisted of 29 episodes and has recorded one of the highest viewership ratings on both TV and internet with 40 million viewers on TV and more than 120 million combined views for his show on YouTube alone. Due to legal conflicts with the channel, Bassem's contract with CBC was terminated after completing one season and three episodes. The third season of the show has aired on MBC MASR.

In 2013, Bassem was named one of the "100 most influential people in the world" by TIME magazine and one of Foreign Policy magazine 100 Leading Global Thinkers.

He was also awarded with the International Press Freedom Award of 2013 from the Committee to Protect Journalists and was announced the most searched figure in 2013 by Google. Al Bernameg was chosen by South by Southwest, one of the largest international interactive festivals, as the first and most successful internet to TV conversion story in the Middle East. Al Bernameg YouTube channel was the first channel in the MENA region to reach one million subscribers and was awarded the gold button trophy.

In January 2015, Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, announced that Youssef will be a Resident Fellow for the spring semester.

Jaap De Hoop Scheffer

Jakob Gijsbert de Hoop Scheffer (often called ‘Jaap’ de Hoop Scheffer) was born on the 3rd of April 1948 in Amsterdam.

He studied at Leiden University, graduating in 1974, after which he joined the air force, eventually becoming a reserve officer. After leaving the air force in 1976, De Hoop Scheffer began working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He remained in the job for a decade, initially working in Ghana at the Dutch Embassy, before taking on a role at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels. In 1997, De Hoop Scheffer became the party leader of the Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA), a position he retired from in 2002, prior to the elections.

The CDA (under the leadership of De Hoop Scheffer’s successor, Jan Peter Balkenende) went on to win the majority role in the new coalition government. De Hoop Scheffer was appointed Foreign Minister, a role in which his experience was invaluable.

During his time as Foreign Minister, De Hoop Scheffer offered political support to Operation Iraqi Freedom, contributing 1,100 servicemen to the Stabilisation Force. De Hoop Scheffer was appointed Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2003. In 2004, De Hoop Scheffer became the 11th NATO Secretary General.

In this role, he was not afraid to say what he felt needed to be said, commenting on the security of oil lines and infrastructure, and encouraging Canada to continue to keep some of their forces in Afghanistan after their initial withdrawal date (2009). De Hoop Scheffer remained the Secretary General of NATO until July 2009, when he suffered from a heart attack and required emergency surgery.

After making a full recovery, he was invited to take Leiden University’s Pieter Kooijmans Chair for Peace, Law and Security. De Hoop Scheffer has been awarded numerous accolades from countries throughout Europe in recognition of his work with NATO.

Andrew Gowers

Andrew Gowers was appointed editor of the Financial Times in October 2001. He left this post in November 2005 due to disagreements over strategy with the Financial Times’ owner, Pearson PLC. In March 2012 he was appointed Director of External Relations at the Association for Financial Markets in Europe. As for June 2015 he is Global Head of Corporate Affairs in Trafigura responsible for a team of seven communications and engagement professionals.

After graduating from Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, Gowers began his journalistic career in 1980 when he joined Reuters as a graduate trainee. In 1981, he was appointed Brussels correspondent and in 1982 he became Zurich correspondent.

He joined the Financial Times in 1983 on the foreign desk in London. In 1984, he became agriculture correspondent and in 1985 he was appointed commodities editor. Two years later, he became Middle East editor, in 1990 features editor, and in 1992, foreign editor. He was appointed deputy editor in 1994.

From July 1997, he spent 15 months as acting editor while the editor, Richard Lambert, was in New York to launch the new US edition of the Financial Times. In January 1999, Andrew Gowers was appointed founding editor of a new German language business newspaper, Financial Times Deutschland, a joint venture between the Financial Times Group and Gruner und Jahr, one of Germany’s leading newspaper and magazine publishers. FT Deutschland launched in February 2000.

On Friday 2nd December 2005 he was commissioned by Gordon Brown to lead an independent review of intellectual property rights in the UK, known as the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. Amongst other things, this review was set up to consider the implications of extending the copyright on sound recordings in the UK.

In March 2006, he was appointed head of corporate communications, advertising and brand & marketing strategy for Lehman Brothers in Europe.

Andrew Gowers is co-author of a biography of Yasser Arafat published in 1990, which was republished in an updated version in 2003. He has recently published the Gowers Review.

Frank Gardner

He is currently the BBC's Security Correspondent.

He was appointed an OBE in 2005 for his services to journalism.

Educated at Marlborough College, a boys' independent school in Wiltshire, England, and at the University of Exeter, Gardner cites a meeting with the Arabian explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger in his youth, which led to a life of fascination with the Arab world and a degree in the Arabic language from University of Exeter.

Between 1989 and 1991 he was a Territorial Army officer in the 4th Battalion the Royal Green Jackets. After a nine year career in banking as an investment banker with Saudi International Bank and then Robert Fleming Bank from 1986 until 1995, a promotion in Bahrain resulted in his not liking his career, and he took the plunge into journalism in Saudi Arabia.

In 1995 he joined BBC World as a producer and reporter, and became the BBC's first full-time Persian Gulf correspondent in 1998, setting up an office in Dubai. In 2000 Gardner was appointed BBC Middle East correspondent in charge of the bureau in Cairo, but traveled throughout the region. After September 11, 2001 attacks on New York, from 2002 Gardner specialised solely in covering the War on Terror.

On 6 June 2004, while reporting from a suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Gardner was shot six times and seriously injured (his colleague cameraman Simon Cumbers was shot dead as he fled the same attack). Of the five bullets which hit Gardner in his torso (the sixth bullet passed straight through his shoulder) all missed all his major organs yet one hit his spinal cord and he was left paralysed from the waist down. However, after several months of rehabilitation he returned to reporting for the BBC in mid-2005. He is now a wheelchair or frame user. Despite his injury, he still occasionally reports from the field including places like Afghanistan and Colombia but usually comments on top stories from a BBC studio.

In 2005, for services to journalism, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours.

In summer 2006 he released a book on his experiences called "Blood and Sand", which he launched at the Hay Festival.

In 2011 Gardner presented Tintin's Adventure with Frank Gardner for the BBC, a documentary in which he travelled through Northern Europe following Tintin on his first ever adventure – Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.