Egyptian hero Wael Ghonim tops this year’s 100 “most influential people in the world,” Time magazine announced.
“Wael Ghonim embodies the youth who constitute the majority of Egyptian society – a young man who excelled and became a Google executive but, as with many of his generation, remained apolitical due to loss of hope that things could change in a society permeated for decades with a culture of fear,” read a profile in the magazine penned by influential Egyptian politician and former Opec Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, a potential presidential candidate.
“[a] movement that started with thousands on Jan. 25 ended with 12 million Egyptians removing Hosni Mubarak and his regime. What Wael and the young Egyptians did spread like wildfire across the Arab world,” added ElBaradei, also a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The list also includes India’s cricket captian Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who brought the ICC Cricket World Cup to the cricket-crazy nation earlier this month after a gap of 28 excruciating years. “In April, when India won its first Cricket World Cup in 28 years, it felt as if the entire population of 1.21 billion had spilled out into the streets to party.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 29, the Indian captain, finished the final game by flamboyantly hitting the ball into the stands, cementing his country’s dominance of the world’s second most popular sport. Dhoni is now universally acknowledged as India’s best captain ever.
He's also its most likable, exuding both cool confidence and down-to-earth humility,” wrote best-selling Indian novelist Chetan Bhagat in his profile of the cricketer in the magazine.
“As astonishing as Dhoni's talent is his background. Indian success stories are usually associated with pedigree, connections and power. Dhoni, from a small-town family of modest means, had none of these, but he’s shown India that you can make it with only one thing: excellence. Dhoni doesn’t just lead a cricket team; he’s also India’s captain of hope. And he didn’t just win India the World Cup; he also taught India how to win,” wrote Bhagat.
Interestingly, Time has included Saif al-Islam Gadaffi, dubbed as “motormouth,” for his vows to crush a popular rebellion in Libya, but left out his father, Libyan strongman Moamer Gadaffi.
The list also includes Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, pop heartthrob Justin Bieber Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and DVD rental firm Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
“They are artists and activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state and captains of industry. Their ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution,” Time wrote.
The US weekly has said its often counter-intuitive choices are “not about the influence of power but the power of influence.”