Paul Ardaji

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Paul Ardaji
Paul W. Ardaji

Occupationfilm producer, restaurateur

Paul W. Ardaji is an American film producer, former International Advertising and marketing executive, and restaurateur. Ardaji is particularly notable for his role as producer during the early stages of production for the award-winning American film Ali (2001), which focused on the life of boxer Muhammad Ali.[2][3]

Early career[edit]

Ardaji founded the Middle East Advertising and Marketing Company (Meamco), a New York-based marketing agency focusing on Arab markets.[4]

In 1979, Ardaji signed boxer Muhammad Ali as a spokesperson for Toyota in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region.[4] The famous boxer's voice was broadcast from radios across the Gulf region, boosting Toyota vehicle sales in the region by 18%.[4] For decades, Ardaji maintained a close friendship with Ali and eventually came to realize Ali's film potential.[5] This crucial initial connection later allowed Ardaji to be able to obtain the rights to Ali's life story for the film Ali in 1992.[5]

In 1984, Ardaji became the president of Horizon/Meamco after Meamco's merger with Horizon.[1] During the mid-1980s, it was the third largest marketing agency serving the Middle East, and filled in a highly crucial gap for connecting Western products to consumers in Arab cultures.[1][6]

Film industry[edit]

In 1992, Ardaji founded Roundhill Pictures Corporation and obtained the film rights to Muhammad Ali's life story.[2][5] In 1992, Ardaji had visited Ali on his 50th birthday and persuaded him to allow a film to be made about his life.[3]

Signing on with Sony Pictures, Ardaji then partnered with producer Jon Peters, who started developing the film in 1994.[7] In addition to Ardaji and Peters, other film producers of Ali were Michael Mann, James Lassiter, and A. Kitman Ho. All five producers were given equal credit as for their roles in the film's production.[8] In 2000, Michael Mann became director of the Ali film, which was finally released in 2001 and featured Will Smith as the main star.[8]

Later career[edit]

Later, Ardaji went into the restaurant business and founded Terra Ristorante Italiano with Boston-based chef Ken Oringer[9] in Greenwich, Connecticut, which was featured in the New York Times. Continuing their close friendship from the 1970s, Muhammad Ali continued to visit Ardaji during Ardaji's later days as a restauranteur.[10]

In 2005, Ardaji launched Asian fusion cuisine chain Paulimotos Asian Bistro with Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef, with locations throughout the U.S. East Coast.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Philip H. Dougherty (March 15, 1984). "Advertising; Horizon/Meamco". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Andy Marx (November 17, 1992). "Muhammad Ali pacts with Roundhill for biopic". Variety. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Patrick Goldstein (December 9, 2001). "A Fight That Went the Full 15 Rounds". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Ad Agency for Arab Market". The New York Times. May 7, 1984. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Aleene MacMinn (November 18, 1992). "Movies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Philip H. Dougherty (January 8, 1979). "Focusing on Mideast Market". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Michael Fleming (1993-12-01). "Peters-Semel team rumored". Variety. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  8. ^ a b Ali on IMDb
  9. ^ "Chef Ken Oringer at Clio". Archived from the original on 2019-02-20.
  10. ^ "When Ali came to town". Greenwich Time. June 5, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  11. ^ Zibart, Eve (2006-04-14). "Pauli Moto's: Haute In Name Only". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-02-20.