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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 10. Wael Ghonim

Arab springboard.

A prominent internet activist, Wael Ghonim was one of the key figures in Egypt's 2011 revolution at the start of the Arab spring. His Facebook page dedicated to Khaled Saeed, a young man believed to have been tortured to death by police in Alexandria, sparked outrage against the former president Hosni Mubarak's government. It also landed him in prison for seven days. In the late 1990s, Ghonim, 30, helped to launch - one of the most popular websites in the Arab world. He later became head of marketing at Google Middle East. In 2011, he left Google to join the ranks of Egypt's pro-democracy revolutionaries. After being released from detention by Mubarak's henchmen, he appeared in an interview on national television, praising the protesters. More recently, Ghonim announced he was starting a non-governmental organisation dedicated to fighting poverty in Egypt.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter