• zaven.media

    Moving Forward

     

     

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    Meet Zaven

    Zaven Kouyoumdjian (born May 15, 1970) is an established Lebanese media personality, talk show host, TV/radio producer, best-selling author, media consultant, researcher, and university instructor.

    Best known for his Pan-Arab, top-rated, talk show (Sire Wenfatahit, 1999-2012), Zaven is often credited for influencing social TV genre, formulating the blueprint of modern Arab talk show, and bridging the gap between television and emerging new media. In this context, Zaven was the first Arab host to use his laptop and receive emails on live TV as early as 1996.

    In 2005, American Newsweek magazine named Zaven one of the 43 most influential people in the Middle East for pushing the boundaries of free speech and widening the scope of topics on primetime talk shows.

    Zaven today is recognized for his continual reinvention and versatility across radio, television, books and online platforms.

  • Z A K

    M E D I A H O U S E

    Z A K Media House is a boutique branding and marketing house that provides personalized media training sessions to individuals and groups.

    Z A K also designs custom-made, purpose-built strategies that go beyond noise, and builds meaningful content, and delivers a wide variety of cutting edge offline and online services in branding, campaigning, video production, art direction and design.

  • Social Feed

    Check out my latest updates!

  • Publications

    Zaven has published 7 books, and a new one is in the pipeline.

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    Lebanon Shot Twice, 2002

    This best-selling book showcases iconic photos from the Lebanese civil war and delves into the narratives behind each photograph through a before-and-after format. This publication was listed among the Top 100 artworks that commemorate collective memories associated with civil wars. Dar AnNahar, Chamas. Ar, En, Fr.

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    Witness On Society, 2013 

    This publication brings together Zaven and his regular guest, clinical psychologist Dr Dolly Habbal in an easy to read guide to life, body, soul and society. The book reflects both authors’ TV experience, as well as the evolution of Arab audiences' stand on different social, taboo and sexual questions. Chamas Printing and Publishing. Ar

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    God Bless Your Evening, 2015

    This book documents the greatest golden age moments and milestones of Lebanese television, between 1959 and 1990. The book covers three decades of Lebanese entertainment, politics, arts, culture and social transformations and discusses how television shaped the nation's image and imagination. Hachette Antoine. Ar

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    Lebanon On Screen, 2016

    Inspired by his previous Arabic publication, this first-of-its-kind English book presents Lebanese television and pop culture to the world, putting it in its social and cultural context. The book was made possible with the collaboration of Alba University and the United States Embassy in Lebanon. Hachette Antoine. En

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    Lebanon Shot Twice, 2019

    In this upgraded and updated Four Weddings and a Funeral edition, Lebanon Shot Twice crafts a new visual narrative of Lebanon’s history, from the first bullet fired in the 1975 civil war to the 2019 Lebanon Revolts uprising. The book captures the pulse of the nation's never ending bid for a new rebirth. Hachette Antoine (Edition Four), En, Ar

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    Beirut Guilty Pleasures

    (2020) It's another gift book on Lebanon. Zaven and Ali Chehade embark here in exploring twelve iconic Beiruti landmarks that reflect the rise and fall of Lebanon’s capital city. From the Ottomans to Covid19, and from the Port Silos to the ruins of Holiday INN, this book unfolds an unforgettable two-hour journey in Beirut. Hachette Antoine. En, Ar

  • Talk Shows

    Radio, Television, Platforms.

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    30/31

    Tele Liban

    1994-1995

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    5/7

    Tele Liban

    1996-1999

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    Sire Wenfatahit

    Future TV

    1999-2012

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    Aal Akid

    Future TV

    2012-2014

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    Bala Toul Sire

    Future TV

    2014-2019

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    Specials

    All platforms

    2020-Present

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    Bonjouren

    Sawt Kl Lebnan

    2020-Present

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    Nafas Jdeed

    DRI Int. podcast

    2021

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    Lebanon Townhall

    Munathara Initiatve

    2021

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    Assaha

    Samir Kassir Fnd

    2022

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    Sho Awlak

    AlJadeed, OTV, TL +

    2023-Present

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    Count To Ten

    GIZ podcast

    2024

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    Gen Z

    Hala London TV

    2024

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    1OO/1OO

    LAU podcast

    2024

  • Zaven Timeline

    1970

    Born in Beirut on May 15 to Ardashes Kouyoumdjian and Souad Kaadi.

    1988

    Completed High School at the Armenian Evangelical College - Beirut.

     

    Joined the Lebanese American University in the faculty of Business Administration.

     

    After completing one semester, he followed his passion and transferred to Communication Arts despite objections from his parents, who were concerned that his Armenian background might hinder his career prospects. They were also worried about unstable security circumstances during the Lebanese civil war, as journalism was associated with war coverage.

    1992

    Received his Bachelor's degree in Communication Arts with honors from Lebanese American University.

     

    Joined Tele Liban (TL), the state-run television of Lebanon as a news reporter.

     

    Appointed as TL's correspondent at the temporarily Presidential Palace in Ramlet El Bayda, covering President Elias Hrawi’s daily news.

     

    Zaven’s appearance on the national screen broke stereotypes about Tele Liban and Armenians being week in speaking Arabic, making him a quick TV sensation.

    1993

    Increased attention in Zaven’s work earned him his first monthly prime time news show 30/31.

     

    The show put the 23 year-old journalist face to face with some of country’s most pressing questions, and makes Zaven the youngest host of a current affairs show on any Lebanese television, and the first host of Armenian origin in the Arab world.

     

    Introducing investigative journalism for the first time on national television, the show’s episodes on the dumping of toxic wastes, the Israeli kidnapping of Moustafa Aldirani, and the ban of the Lebanese Forces militia made headlines.

     

    Appointed as TL's news correspondent at the Governmental House, responsible for covering the daily news activities and international trips of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, and the launch of the Beirut post-war reconstruction process.

    1994

    Zaven became the promotional face of TL News relaunching campaign, designed by Saatchi & Saatchi.

     

    Associated now with the station’s famous greeting statement Asaad Allah ou Massakoum, Zaven becomes Tele Liban’s new classic.

    1995

    Took part in an extensive training program on television news production with the Reuters Foundation. The program included training in major media corporations in London, Washington, and Toronto.

    1996

    Launched his first weekly smash-hit talk show 5/7, introducing a new genre of talk shows to Lebanese television, based on human interest stories and confession TV.

     

    In its first season, 5/7 made it to the UNDP best media awards competition, ranking second after the than-popular ElChater Yehki talk show by Ziad Njeim on LBCI. (The first season was co-hosted with Zahira Harb, and second with Nada Saliba).

     

    Covered Grapes of Wrath, the Israeli attack on South Lebanon.

     

    Zaven's tears, triggered by the horrifying footage of the Israeli Qana massacres and the Mansouri ambulance bombing, are still considered among the highlights of the 12-day media coverage.

     

    Awarded the Honors Certificate of the Lebanese Press Order.

     

    5/7 scored a record in 1996 with an unprecedented 52% audience rating for a single talk show episode.

     

    Discredited by some critics as immature and sensational, 5/7 continued to set records and raised the bar on dealing with sensitive and controversial topics. The list of guests of the show included PM Rafic Hariri and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

    1997

    Received the second prize at a UNDP awards ceremony for promoting sustainable development goals.

     

    Received the honorary key of Bourj Hammoud municipality.

    1999

    5/7 was abruptly taken off the air in February following direct orders from Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud, after an episode on poverty and unemployment. Zaven was also prohibited from news anchoring or making any appearances on state-run television. This action raised concerns about freedoms and new forms of censorship at the beginning of Lahoud's mandate.

     

    Seen now as a signal of the shift in Lebanon's media sphere, two other leading political shows were discontinued in the following months on other TV channels. Zaven, who was warned not to discuss the matter in press interviews, decided to express his anger and protest by shaving his head bald.

     

    After nine months of being silenced, Zaven appeared in November in a televised promotion, packing his belongings into a box and making a move from Tele Liban to Future Television: Welcome to the satellite era.

     

    Sire Wenfatahit show (Open Subject) debuts on November 24 on both Future Television – Lebanon and Future TV International.

    2000

    Ranked third in the Top 5 list of Lebanon's best talk show hosts in a survey conducted by the Lebanese National Council of Audio-Visual Media.

     

    Moving from terrestrial to satellite broadcast, Zaven now addresses the entire Arab Nation and the Arabic-speaking audiences worldwide.

     

    Zaven’s Pan-Arab twist on social talk gained quick appreciation and established Sire Wenfatahit as one of the leading and top-ranked talk shows in the Middle East.

     

    Although associated with addressing sensitive, taboo, and controversial discussions, the "more mature" yet still edgy Sire Wenfatahit focused on human interest stories, human rights, gender role issues, mental health, modernism, and the post-9/11 Arab world. This mix, which incorporated social, political, sexual, and religious themes, took the Arab talk shows to the next level and established Zaven as a household name in the Arab World.

    2001

    Gained more exposure in the Arab world by addressing taboo and sensitive topics that had never been discussed on Arab satellite before. Zaven’s approach balanced between credibility, media ethics and commerciality, and catalyzing public discourse on subjects related to sexuality, new medical findings, and feminism.

     

    Launched zavenonline.com, the first interactive website of an Arab talk show. The website becomes a new platform for Zaven to branch out and continue his discussions on taboo issues online, reaching a different audience than the TV viewership.

    2002

    Received the 2002 Arab Media Award of the UK International College - London for "his efforts in creating a Pan-Arab dialogue on social issues". 

     

    Received the Best Social Talk Show award at a Media Festival organized by the Lebanese University. 

     

    Married to Laury Haytayan in Cyprus, making international headlines on legalization of civil marriage in Lebanon. Zaven and Laury grace the November cover of Prestige magazine.

    2003

    Ranked as the number one talk show host, and Sire Wenfatahit as the second best talk show host in the Middle East in the best of 2003 issue of Zahret El Khalij magazine, published in United Arab Emirates.

     

    Made Arab reality TV history with a series of episodes related to pregnancy, DNA testing, and substance abuse, inspired by the international trend of reality TV back then. This series generated controversy and raised questions over privacy, media and medical ethics and limits of where TV cameras can be.

     

    Became a father. Baby Marc was born on November 19 after a special season titled First Time Parents.

    Graced the Christmas cover of Nadine Mom and Baby magazine with wife Laury.

     

    Interviewed Queen Rania of Jordan after terrorist attacks in Amman.

     

    Launched an Arab book signing tour for his book Lebanon Shot Twice. The tour included signing ceremonies in Amman, Kuwait and Dubai.

    2004

    Interviewed Queen Sylvia of Sweden about her efforts in confronting drug abuse in Mentor organization.

     

    Retained his position as the best talk show host in the Middle East for the second consecutive year, and his show Sire Wenfatahit moved from the second position to the top spot in the best talk show listing in the annual survey of Zahret El Khalij magazine.

     

    Achieved a groundbreaking TV milestone by featuring, for the first time on any Arab satellite show, the faces of individuals living with HIV. An all HIV-positive studio audience bravely spoke out to address discrimination and stigma.

     

    Issues the second edition of his book Lebanon Shot Twice. A third edition was released in 2007.

     

    Became the first male personality to appear on the cover of Zahret El khalij magazine on Father's Day.

    2005

    Started an inspirational series titled Power of Life, aiming to help Lebanese society heal in the aftermath of Rafic Hariri assassination.

     

    Achieved a remarkable feat by being featured on the cover of Newsweek International, as one of the 43 most influential people in the Arab World.

     

    Made it to the list of the top personalities who made a difference in Saudi Arabia, published by the prominent Saudi AlRiyadh newspaper. The list featured music legend Fairuz and Zaven as the only two Lebanese personalities to be recognized.

    2006

    Received the Best Social Talk Show award at the fourth Media Festival, organized by the Lebanese University.

     

    Featured on a famous pajamas cover on AlHasnaa Magazine with pop singer Amal Hijazi.

     

    Launched a groundbreaking reality series in both Lebanon and the UAE, titled Me Now. The innovative format involved randomly giving teenagers home cameras to document their daily lives and share their stories. The unprecedented success of this pre-smartphone series paved the way for a series of teenage talk specials titled Proud and Ashamed in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, and Tunisia.

    2007

    Declared “I have become a sectarian person” in an interview on AlJadeed Television, reflecting political unrest in Lebanon. Zaven’s statement shocked his audiences and stirred controversy.

     

    Welcomed a second baby boy: Ara was born on May 24.

     

    Pioneered the first Arab television book club, named the Nisrine Jaber Book Club.

    2008

    Received Student Choice Award for the best social talk show category, in an award ceremony organized by Lebanese American University students at UNESCO Palace.

     

    Honored by the Saudi Sanad Children Cancer Support Society in appreciation for his inspiring work to spread awareness on cancer.

    2009

    Pioneered an online sequel of his show through a series of original episodes on zavenonline, extending an independent digital presence to Sire Wenfatahit show. The first experience of its kind in the Arab world paved the way for a new media dimension in Lebanon, bridging the gap between television and the internet.

     

    Honored by the Notre Dame University for his work on humanitarian issues.

     

    Received a ten-day jail sentence and a fine of ten million Lebanese Liras following a lawsuit stemming from a live episode in 2004.

     

    Regained a spot in the annual Top 5 Arab media personalities list of Zahret El Khalij magazine.

     

    Named one of the top 50 Arab talk show hosts who have shaped the present Arab satellite scene by Egyptian Good News TV.

     

    Ranked in the Top 5 list of the Emirati Zahret El Khalij magazine's annual best Arab talk show hosts list.

    2010

    Designated the guest of honor at the Jordan River Foundation's 15th-anniversary gala dinner in the presence of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.

     

    Won the best social talk show award at the 3rd Arab Youth Media Forum in Amman, Jordan.

    Ranked in the Top 5 list of the Emirati Zahret El Khalij magazine's annual best Arab talk show hosts list.

     

    Was part of the jury of the 11th Annual National Speech Competition, organized by the Lebanese American University and the English Speaking Union in Lebanon. (He becomes a constant member of the jury until 2019).

     

    Honored by the Municipality of Ghazir town in Keserwan for their lifetime achievements and good will.

    2011

    Received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Pan Arab Web Awards.


    Emerged as one of the early memes with his infamous "Sho Hasset" question, in the nascent online trend culture and viral pop in Lebanon.

    2012

    Ended his 13-year long journey of Sire Wenfatahit show on July 15 in an emotional series of farewell episodes. The show is recognized as the longest-running social talk show on Arab satellite.

     

    kicked off his new show 3alAkid (For Sure) in August on Future TV. The Lebanese version of the famous French show, Sans Aucun Doute, received critical and popular acclaim, and had a significant influence on other shows in Lebanon and the region, setting a trend for similar programs.

     

    The show, produced by French-based Periba production house, continued for two seasons, with the last episode airing on June 30, 2014.

     

    Ranked number three on the 30 Most Influential People on Twitter in Lebanon list created by 2famous.tv. (Based on Tweet Grader).

    2013

    Received the Golden Award from the Arab Social Responsibility Organization in Dubai.

     

    Signed his second book, Witness on Society, in collaboration with Dr Dolly Habbal at Beirut Book fair. The publication delves into the transformation of Lebanese society's approach to psychological, social, taboo and sexual issues, as portrayed through the lens of Sire Wenfatahit. Dr. Habbal was a frequent guest on the show.

     

    Awarded with an honors recognition at the Lebanese State Alumni Community’s annual ceremony for his achievement in promoting democracy, freedom of speech and human rights.

     

    Received the Lebanon Web Awards’ Prize for best website - media category (zavenonline.com).

    Named Best Media Personality on Social Media at the Social Responsibility Awards ceremony in Beirut.

    2014

    kicked off an updated version of his famous Sire Wenfatahit show, titled Bala Toul Sire (Cut It Short) on Future Television.

     

    Honored with the Arab Social Responsibility Organization’s golden award for the second consecutive year.

    2015

    Honored with the 2015 Murex D’or Award for his life achievement.

     

    Published his third book Assaad Allahou Massakoum on Lebanon’s greatest 100 golden age television moments. The book launch was marked by a significant signing ceremony at Antoine bookstore in Beirut Souks.

     

    Received the certificate of appreciation from the Arab League's Federation for Youth and Environment.

     

    Honored with AlHaitham Award during the seventh edition of the Arab Media Youth Forum in Jordan.

     

    Received an honorary Palestinian passport from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in recognition of his continuous support for the Palestinian cause.

    2016

    Honored with the Lebanese Franchise Association's 10th-anniversary token of appreciation for his work in shaping Lebanon’s civil war collective memory in Lebanon Shot Twice. The celebration recognized five personalities from various fields for their achievements in contributing to a better Lebanon.

     

    Received the annual award from the Italian International Literary Cenacle AltreVoci association during a ceremony held in Beirut, in partnership with the Lebanese Friends of Book foundation.

     

    Published his fourth book, Lebanon On Screen, which showcases the greatest moments of Lebanese television and pop culture to an international audience. The book highlights the influential role of these moments in shaping Lebanese society and culture.

    2017

    Launched an international signing tour for Lebanon On Screen book. The tour included Dubai, Paris, New York and Mexico City.

    2019

    Terminated his show Bala Toul Sire in August, without any goodbyes, after Future Television's decision to cease all their production. The station had promised its audience to return within 3 months, however this promise was never materialized.

     

    With the conclusion of Bala Toul Sire after five years since its debut, Zaven didn’t have any regular weekly television presence for the first time in 25 years.

     

    Published the fourth edition of his best-selling book Lebanon Shot Twice.

    2020

    Joined Sawt Kl Lebnan Radio to host the station's daily morning show in the aftermath of the Beirut Blast. The easy-listening show continued to provide companionship to radio audiences and car drivers in Lebanon and worldwide.

    2021

    Took his first step into the realm of trending online talk shows by hosting Nafas Jdeed (New Spirit), a political talk show produced by Democracy Reporting International. The collaboration came to an end after the first season.

     

    Joined Munathara Initiative as the host of two monthly Lebanon Townhall discussion. The format brought together key national broadcasters to engage in public interest journalism.

    2022

    Hosted Assaha (The Square), an online political show produced by Spectrum Politix in collaboration with the Samir Kassir Foundation.

    2023

    Hosted Munathara initiative’s weekly debate show Sho Awlak (What's Your Say) in a joint multi-channel broadcast that aims to give voice to youth and promote debate culture in Lebanon.

     

    Launched 3ed Lal 3ashra show (Count To Ten) on his YouTube Channel zavenonline.