WINNERS: Man At His Best Awards 2017
The calibre of winners from the seventh edition of the Esquire Man At His Best Awards are one of the strongest yet. Taking place in Dubai on December 7, 2017, the annual event celebrates the outstanding achievements of men (and a few women) across the Middle East over the past year. Here are this year's crop:
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Businessman of the Year - Mohammad Bin Zaal
This Emirati entrepreneur is part of the new school of property leaders who believe that good, sustainable design and being environmentally aware are pivotal to the future of the region’s real estate industry and in line with the UAE government’s Vision 2021 National Agenda. Bin Zaal was previously the CEO of the award-winning properties at Al Barari, but this year branched out and set up his own company KOA – whose idea of creating communities that facilitate collaboration, creativity and social engagement sits at the very heart of what they want to achieve.
Comedian of the Year - Nitin Mirani
Esquire first became aware of our next winner, nine years ago when he made us laugh out loud in Ali Mostafa’s seminal UAE film City Of Life. Over time we watched his career progress, and even included him as one of our Best Dressed Men in 2015. Throughout his career, he has performed alongside some great international comics as well as continuously raising the bar for the local scene, and now even regularly starring in roles in Bollywood. But good looks and charm aside (and he has plenty of both), it is his work ethic and commitment to chase and fulfil his dream that has made him continually stand out on our radar. Most important of all, he’s helping us to see the lighter side of life and bridge cultural divides with laughter.
Humanitarian of the Year - Sacha Jafri
Over an 18-year career artist Sacha Jafri has help raise over $40 million dollars for various charities and is one of the few living painters who can boast of a client list including presidents and sheikhs, the likes of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Leo DiCaprio and Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. While his charitable turns are many, the one that stands out the most to Esquire is when he spent five years travelling to each of the 42 refugee camps of the world, producing a truly staggering collection of paintings known as The Universe Of The Child. Earlier this year, he became the youngest artist in history to have an 18-year career retrospective, and so we are honoured that he has taken a break from his world tour to join us here this evening.
Music Award: Qusai
Qusai is a true regional pioneer. Not only is he one of the first Arabic hip-hop artists, but he is the first professional rapper from Saudi Arabia.
Having learnt his craft from a young age in Jeddah, before uprooting to Orlando to establish himself as an important part of the city’s musical culture. He would later return to Saudi to help blaze a trail for independent musicians and artists in the Middle East, embracing the spirit of hip-hop, while capturing the uniqueness of our region’s culture. A fantastic role model for anyone who dreams big, whatever the circumstances.
Chef of the Year: David Myers
For most chefs the first day in a professional kitchen normally doesn’t include a trip to the hospital having chopped the top of their finger. Most chefs also wouldn’t return the next day after being told not to, because of a steadfast passion to do the job properly. Well, it is a good thing that David Myers is not like most chefs. Having taken on the moniker of the “Gypsy Chef”, this American Michelin-starred chef has gone on to have a hugely successful career with restaurants in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. However, to crown a wonderful 2017, he recently opened not one, but three new venues in Dubai at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel.
Woman We Love: Tayana Taylor
Tayana Taylor exploded into the public consciousness with her jaw-dropping star-turn in the video for Kanye West’s song ‘Fade’. The multi-talented dancer, singer and songwriter has worked with and written records for major artists such as Usher, Chris Brown and Kanye as well as appeared on runways during Fashion Week – and all that before her 25th birthday. In 2018, her long-awaited solo album is released, produced by no other than Kanye, himself.
Entrepreneur Award: Idriss Al Rifai
We’re not entirely sure when, but thanks to the likes of Amazon and Uber, logistics have become one of the world’s sexiest industries. While, he will claim that it is much less glamourous, Idriss Al Rifai is very much part of the solution to make the world an easier place for people to live in. His delivery and logistics company Fetchr, has seen enormous growth since it started with six parcels on a table. Today Fetchr is present in six countries, 30 cities and hire up to 100 people a week. He recently raised US$41 million to help expansion plans, including the creation of the UAE’s first autonomous drone delivery service.
Woman We Admire: Donna Benton
As most people in the room will agree, the business world is cutthroat, which means that those who do succeed do so through blood, sweat and tears. Donna Benton started a business based on a simple two-for-one deal model, but it has since grown into something of a UAE business staple. The Entertainer is often credited as being one of the fastest growing businesses in the region, and is now available worldwide with more than 10,000 partners around the globe. Earlier this year, the fabled hard copy book was discontinued as she took her company 100 percent digital. A bold, forward-thinking move, but one that we are certain will pay off.
Fashion Designer of the Year: Les Benjamins
While it has been a year of big changes among the world’s major brands, it is within the smaller breakout talents that have caught our eye this year. With the premium streetwear trend only gaining strength in 2017, this year Turkish designer Les Benjamins has pushed the parameters of contemporary regional design into a global sphere of influence. If any evidence was needed of a star on the rise, his collections have been flying off the shelves in Dubai. The cool kids, will already know the name, and if you haven’t you better take note.
Sportsman of the Year: Sergio Garcia
Sport has the unmatched ability to perfectly capture the drama of man’s greatest stories: triumph, disappointment, and vindication. Sure, the outcome may not always go the way people want it to, but when it does, there is nothing quite like it. One of these stories happened in the first few months of this year, when Sergio Garcia, after 18 years as a professional - many of them ranked in the world’s top 10 - finally won his first Major tournament, The US Masters. Genuinely considered one of the nicest guys in golf, his victory was a standout moment in the sporting calendar - and his 2017 was made even better due to him getting married and is now expecting a child. As he told Esquire Middle East recently in an interview, “If I could rank the year out of 10, I’d give it an 11.”
Sports Team of the Year: UAE Team Emirates
While Champions Leagues and world titles grab the newspaper headlines, inspired by the government’s 30-for-30 fitness campaign, Esquire looked a little closer to home to find inspiration for this year’s award. With the sport of cycling rapidly growing in popularity in the GCC, not only have we witnessed the emergence of races including the Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour, but also the establishment of an internationally competitive UAE team. Following its relaunch earlier this year, the UAE Team Emirates turned in hugely encouraging performances at both this year’s Tour de France and Vuelta de’Espana. Expect big things in the future from this year’s Esquire Sports Team of the Year...
Woman of The Year: Raha Moharrak
Raha Moharrak knew she wanted to summit Everest the moment she first reached the peak of Mount Kilamanjaro. A few years later, she achieved that dream and became the first Saudi woman to reach the top of the world. Since then, she has gone on to conquer each of the world's Seven Summits – the ultimate achievement for climbing aficionados worldwide – and a stunning feat of human endurance. Our winner is now a keen speaker of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Arab world. Most recently, she became the first-ever Arab brand ambassador for Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer, and now joins the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bella Hadid on the world stage.
Man of the Year: David Harbour
With Esquire's association with the Dubai International Film Festival this year, it seems only fitting that the Esquire Man Of The Year Award comes from the bright lights of Hollywood. Having conquered the boards of Broadway earlier in his career, David Harbour would go on to star in films including Brokeback Mountain, Quantum of Solace, End of Watch and Suicide Squad. The last two years saw his career taken to new heights starring as Chief Jim Hopper in Netflix’s massively successful show Stranger Things. He is currently in the middle of filming the lead role for the upcoming film, Hellboy and a deserved Man of the Year for 2017.