Posted by Guest on June 25, 2018 in Blog
By Allison Ulven
Throughout his career, Ayman Mohyeldin showed immense bravery, risking his life on dangerous assignments as a foreign news correspondent. His thorough and heartfelt reporting earned him a spot as one of Time Magazine’s most influential people.
Ayman lived in his birthplace, Cairo, until the family moved to Kennesaw, Georgia when he was five years old. His father, Medhat Mohyeldin, is Egyptian and his mother, Abla Awwad, is Palestinian. At 12 years old, Ayman knew he wanted to be a journalist, spending time filming videos and pretending to be a news reporter.
Mohyeldin received a BA in international relations at American University with a focus on the European Union, after which he earned an MA in International Politics focusing on Peace and Conflict Resolution. He started his journalism career in Washington, D.C. as a desk assistant at NBC. Although it was an entry level job without many responsibilities, it was a good experience for Mohyeldin, and something he recalled that he could “really cut [his] teeth in working in that kind of news environment.”
After September 11, Ayman was thrown into major projects, like covering the 9/11 investigation and other international terrorist connections--normally beyond the work of a desk assistant--because of his language skills and expertise on the Middle East. He then became a producer for CNN where, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he spent a few years in Baghdad covering the war.
Working with CNN gave him several opportunities to show off his talent and dedication for reporting the news. According to Mohyeldin he was “the only pool producer in the courtroom” as the Iraqi Interim Court handed over Saddam Hussein, and was the first reporter at the explosion that killed the commissioner to the United Nations, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Other major events he covered included the first multi-candidate presidential elections in Egypt, Israel’s “so called disengagement” from Gaza, the 2005 elections in Palestine, as well as the bombings at Sharm al-Sheikh and the Jordan hotels. Ayman was also the first journalist to enter one of the nuclear research facilities in Libya.
His work was showcased in many award-winning pieces. He received an Emmy nomination for his role in the CNN documentary “Iraq: progress report,” which reported on the daily hardships Iraqis experienced during the war, and for the NBC News Specials “Ship at War: Inside the Carrier Stennis” and “Inside the Real West Wing” for which he was an associate producer. His live reporting on the stampede that killed more than 200 people during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia was featured in the CNN special “Islam: The Struggle Within” and “Hajj: A Spiritual Journey.”
Mohyeldin then joined Al-Jazeera English as a correspondent, where his coverage of Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008 was featured in the documentary “The War Around Us.” While covering the Egyptian revolution for Al-Jazeera, he was one of five journalists who were arrested and detained when the network refused to stop broadcasting despite the Egyptian interior ministry revoking their license due to the belief that the network “was conspiring with opposition groups to overthrow the government.” The military handcuffed Ayman and took him to a holding area where other journalists were already being held captive, some of them beaten severely during interrogations. After nine hours, Mohyeldin was released.
Shortly after this incident, he left Al-Jazeera and rejoined NBC where he covered the war in Syria. In 2014, he moved to New York City where he became a fill-in anchor at MSNBC and hosts his own show “Road Map.”
Nominated by Dan Rathers, Ayman was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People In The World. Rather told Time, “By dint of his experience, persistence and talent, he lifted the profile and reputation of the al-Jazeera network. And for one brief, shining moment, he was the best in the world.”
Allison Ulven is a 2018 summer intern at the Arab American Institute.