||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012)|
||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (April 2010)|
Zaven Kouyoumdjian (Arabic زافين قيومجيان, in Armenian Զաւէն Գույումճեան) is a well known Lebanese talk show host, producer and television personality of both Armenian and Lebanese descent. He is also a media consultant and author of a best selling book "Lebanon Shot Twice". He is currently hosting AalAkid program on Lebanon's Future Television. Becoming the “most talked about show” since its debut in August 20, 2012, AalAkid is reshaping Lebanese social talk shows. Zaven is married to Laury Haytayan and has two children, Marc (2003) and Ara (2007).
Zaven was born in Beirut on May 15, 1970 to Ardashes Kouyoumdjian and Souad Kaadi. He received his primary and secondary education at the Armenian Evangelical College in Beirut.
In 1988, Zaven entered the Lebanese American University as a Business Administration major, but his love for journalism gave him the courage to transfer to Communication Arts. His parents were not supportive at first because they felt that he would have a hard time finding a job because Lebanese Armenians were stereotypically known to be weak in Arabic and journalism in Lebanon was mainly in the Arabic language and was then associated with war coverage only. He was not discouraged and continued his major, focusing on TV journalism while taking private lessons in Arabic. He received a BA in Communication Arts with honors. In 2010, Zaven joined Notre Dame University (NDU) to pursue his higher education. He received in 2013 his MA degree in communication arts – advertising.
In 1992, he joined Télé Liban as a reporter and late-night news anchor. Soon afterwards, he became Télé Liban’s news correspondent at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. He started his first weekly talk show, "5/7" in 1995, and his investigative journalism made him a household name in Lebanon. The controversial issues he investigated, such as the dumping of toxic wastes, the Israeli kidnapping of Mousafa Aldirani and the ban of the Lebanese Forces, made headline news. He was often interrogated by the then Syrian-controlled government. Despite the Syrian-controlled government’s attempt to censor and even ban his program, he continued to produce his show. "5/7" became Télé Liban's longest running talk show in the 1990s and scored the highest rating for a single talk show episode in 1996. During his coverage of the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" offensive on South Lebanon, Zaven did not hide his emotions as he brought the horrifying footage of the Israeli massacres at Qana and Mansouri villages to the world. The Syrian-controlled government was finally able to ban his show from airing on Télé Liban in 1998. Zaven shaved his head as an expression of protest. Seven months later, Zaven moved to Future Television and started his new show, “Siré Wenfatahit,” which quickly became one of the most popular and top rated talk shows in the Arab world. In 2004, Zaven convinced four HIV positive individuals to appear on his show about life after AIDS and discrimination. This was the first time that HIV positive individuals appeared on any Arab channel without covering their faces. Also in 2004, he published his first book, Lebanon Shot Twice. Inspired by Oprah Winfrey, he launched the first Arab television book club, the "Nesreen Jaber Book Club". Zaven launched a new series, called Ana Ala'an (meaning Me Now) in 2006. The series aimed at giving the chance for Arab youth to express their thoughts and feelings on TV using their personal camera. Zaven ended his 13-year long show "Sire Wenfatahit" in July 15, 2012, in a special series of countdown episodes. In August 2012, Zaven kicked off his new show "AalAkid" on Future TV (Produced by Periba). The Lebanese version of the famous French show "Sans Aucun Doute" - presented by Julien Courbet was received by critics and viewers with enthusiasm. The show gained quick appreciation as a new style in addressing social issues on Lebanese television. In 2012, Zaven signed his second book with Dr Dolly Habbal, “Witness on Society” in Beirut Book fair. (Publishers: Academia). In 2013, Zaven was honored to be the promotional face of the Government Communication Forum – Sharjah, organized by the Sharjah Media Centre in January 2013.
- “Lebanon Shot Twice” is a best seller book since 2003. A second edition of the book was issued in 2005, and a third in 2009. This trilingual (Arabic / English / French) gift book contains a splendid collection of iconic photos of people and places taken during the Lebanese civil war (1975 – 1990) in a before and after format. The stories accompanying the photos tell the inspiring stories of the victims and survivors of Lebanon’s 15 year long war. www.lebanonshottwice.com
- ”Witness on Society” (Arabic – published by Academia 2012) is based on a decade long television social talk show experience. Zaven and coauthor, clinical psychologist Dr Dolly Habbal, come together to offer you a must have hilarious guide to life, body, soul and society. This manual helps individuals, couples and families better understand their physiological, social and sexual problems, questions and challenges in a simplified way, with narrations from viewers who lived those issues and shared them on live television. www.zavenonline.info/a-witness-on-the-society.php
- His live coverage of the “Grapes of Wrath” won him the prestigious Honors Certificate of the Lebanese Press Order, establishing him as one of Lebanon’s leading TV journalists.
- In 1997, he received the Appreciation Certificate of the United Nations Development Program for Sustainable Development for his work in "5/7".
- The municipality of Bourj Hammoud granted him the honorary key of the city in 1997.
- In 2002, he received Arab Media Award 2002 of the UK International College – London for “his efforts in creating a Pan Arab dialogue on social issues”.
- In 2002, he received best social talk show award of the Media Festival - Beirut which was organized by the Lebanese University.
- In 2005, Newsweek listed Zaven as one of 43 most influential people in the Arab World. http://www.zavenonline.com/newsweek_en.shtml
- In 2006, he won the best social talk show award of the fourth Media Festival - Beirut 2006 organized by the Lebanese University.
- In 2008, he won Student Choice Award for best social talk show.
- In 2009, he was honored by the municipality of Ghazir town in keserwan (Mount Lebanon)in a ceremony honoring the ten of its notables for their live achievements and good will.
- During his live show on the 21st of December 2010, Zaven received the best social talk show prize of the Arab Youth Media Forum 2010. The forum was held under the patronage of Jordanian prime minister in Amman, Jordan on the 6th of December
- In 2010, he took part in Jordan River Foundation's fifth annual anniversary as a guest of honor in its annual gala dinner in the presence of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.
- He won the best social talk show award of the 3rd Arab Youth Media Forum 2010 - Amman.
- He was ranked among the Top 5 list of the Emirati "Zahret El Khalij" magazine's annual best Arab talk show hosts list in 2009 and 2010.
- He was a jury member of the 11th Annual National Speech Competition, organized by LAU and the English Speaking Union in Lebanon.
- In 2010, Zaven started an Arab tour in “Sire Wenfathit”: Titled “Proud / Ashamed”, the tour included KSA, Yaman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Iraq and Tunis and its aim was to meet Arab youth and discuss with them what Zaven called “the transformations of the Arab world”.
- In 2011, Zaven received the Pan Arab Web’s “Outstanding Achievement Award” in a prestigious event organized by the Pan Arab Web Awards on the occasion of ten year anniversary of zavenonline.com.
- He was ranked number three on the “30 Most Influential People on Twitter in Lebanon” list created by 2famous.tv. (Based on Tweet Grader).
- In 2012, Zaven was honored with the Arab Social Responsibility Organization’s golden award for new show “AalAkid” in a grand ceremony in Dubai.
- The Lebanese State Alumni Community (LSAC) honored Zaven with one of its five annual 2012 award for his “great achievement in promoting freedom of speech and the values of democracy and human rights through his social talk shows”.
- In 2013. Zaven received the Lebanon Web Awards Prize (LWAC 2013) for zavenonline.com, as best television program media official website.
- He was also named the Best Media Personality on Social Media at the Social Responsibility Awards – Beirut 2013 (SMA) poll.