Sahat CEO named ‘Retail Professional of the Year 2019’

Wail Mobarak Balkhair, CEO of Sahat Property Management Co., received the ‘Retail Professional of Year 2019’ award from Younis Al-Mulla, chairman of the MECS+R.
Updated 18 November 2019

Sahat CEO named ‘Retail Professional of the Year 2019’

Wail Mobarak Balkhair, CEO of Sahat Property Management Company specializing in the management of shopping centers, received the “Retail Professional of the Year 2019” award at Retail Congress MENA 2019. The event, organized by the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers and Retailers (MECS+R), was held in Dubai on Oct 29.
This award for the best CEO was presented by Younis Al-Mulla, chairman of the MECS+R.
Balkhair started his career working as a maintenance controller on minimum wage in 1999. He eventually moved up the career ladder, taking up important posts such as chairman of the Shopping Centers Committee, member of the Entertainment and Tourism Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and board member of the MECS+R in Dubai.
“I am honored to receive this prestigious award and this appreciation, following the evaluation conducted by the International Jury of Shopping Centers in the MECS+R, according to criteria that focused on excellence in the shopping center sector,” Balkhair said.
The award, he said, also took into consideration the contribution of his team in making a difference to the company, the company’s outstanding financial status, and the initiatives that have been put into practice.
“I am especially thankful to Almighty Allah, the prayers of my mother, the support of my family and the efforts of my colleagues. I hope that my story inspires young men and women approaching this field; no matter how modest one’s beginnings are, success is not impossible,” said Balkhair.
This award is a testament to the efforts of the entire team of Sahat under the leadership of Chairman Mohamed Iqbal Alawi, he added.
The company aims to develop the shopping center sector in Saudi Arabia, especially in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, in line with Vision 2030.

From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

Zain Al-Rafeea spoke to Arab News about his role in ‘The Eternals.’ (File/AFP)
Updated 49 min 9 sec ago

From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

LOS ANGELES: A child is forced to leave home to escape a terrible fate. Growing up in a strange land, he develops a special talent and achieves greatness.

It is a familiar story that could describe the lives of a host of superheroes. But it also applies to refugee and actor Zain Al-Rafeea, and his courageous journey from Syria to stardom.

Al-Rafeea was born in 2004. His family fled the Syrian conflict when he was eight, moving to Lebanon, where they were forced to find shelter in the slums of Beirut.

“Unfortunately, refugees face harsh conditions in Lebanon because the country has so many of them,” Al-Rafeea told Arab News. “I never thought I would be an actor or a famous person. I just dreamt of being safe with my family and that nothing bad would happen to them. I was focusing on making money to support my parents.”

In late 2017, Al-Rafeea’s life was changed by a chance encounter with Jennifer Haddad, casting director and collaborator of acclaimed Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki.

“I was in the street with a group of friends. I saw Jennifer, and she asked me if I would like to act. My first reaction was like ‘OK, I have no problem with that.’ She took a video of me, sent it to Nadine and things went on from there.”

Labaki cast Al-Rafeea as the lead in her 2018 drama “Capernaum.” The film was a hit, and the young actor’s performance was lauded by both audiences and critics.

“I did not imagine in my wildest dreams that I have such an international success,” Al-Rafeea said. “I just thought of it as an acting experience, but things went in a much better direction.”

In November, it was announced that Al-Rafeea will join the cast of Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals.” The film tells the story of a race of immortal aliens who lived on Earth in secret, and features A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

“The introduction happened through Nadine. Directors and producers from Hollywood talked to her and she put us in touch,” Al-Rafeea said.

The actor met his fellow cast members on the Canary Islands during the early stages of filming. “They were nice and their welcome to me was very sweet,” he said. “They invited me for lunch and we chatted for hours, I felt so happy.

“When we finished the first day’s shooting, Salma Hayek came up and hugged me. That night she gave me an iPad and iPhone, and we chatted and listened to music together.”

The teenage star couldn’t reveal much about his role in “The Eternals,” only that he joins the “alien heroes as a human who can speak a mysterious 7,000-year-old language.”

Life in the Beirut slums is a thing of the past for the Al-Rafeea family. With their son’s success, they were able to relocate to Norway.

“It is a perfect country, the people are so calm, and there are no fights or even traffic. Having water and electricity all the time is a great thing.” While he is excited about his new home, Al-Rafeea has not forgotten his friends, family and the home he left behind in Syria.

“Work hard for nothing is impossible — look what happened to me,” Al-Rafeea said in a message to children facing situations like the one he endured. “Simply dream big.”

“The Eternals” is due to be released in the US on Nov. 6, 2020. A Middle Eastern premiere date is yet to be announced.