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.
Zaven holds a Masters degree in Communication Arts - Advertising from Notre Dame University (NDU) and a Bachelor degree in Communication (Journalism - Radio, TV & Film) from the Lebanese American University. He initially enrolled (1988) 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 knowing that 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. .
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."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 banned 5/7 from airing on Télé Liban in 1999. 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 "Nisrine Jaber Book Club".
“An episode of talk show Sireh w’infatahit aired by Future TV on December 19th 2005 had the presenter Zaven Kouyoumdjian offer to bring members of the opposition and Hizbullah to the studio to air their views and reach a common ground”.
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).
- “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 collection of 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.
- ”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 a guide to life, body, soul and society.
- Lebanon Shot Twice
- Aal Akid
- Elnashra,"عل أكيد يعود بموسمه الثاني مع زافين.. قضايا مختلفة وضحايا جدد" January 24, 2014
- Fanoos Encyclopedia "Zaven Kouyoumdjian"
- Harb, Z., ["Covering the Qana 'Massacre' 1996: A Case of Contextual Objectivity"], Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 1 (2008)
- Sakr, Naomi, ["Arab Television Today"] (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007) p. 53,160
- Khatib, L. "Television and Public Action in the Beirut Spring" (Stanford, 2007), p.21