From athletes to filmmakers and journalists, Arabs made headlines around the world in 2016. 

Here's a look at 11 that shown in the limelight!

1. Kariman Abuljadayel, Saudi sprinter

On August 13, Saudi sprinter Kariman Abuljadayel became the first woman from the kingdom to compete in the 100 meter race at the Olympic Games.

Although Abuljadayel came in seventh in her preliminary heat, cutting her short of qualifying to the next round, she no doubt made history.

2. Rami Malek, Egyptian-American actor

Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek made history this years as the first "non-white" (and Arab) actor to win the Emmys' Best Actor award in 18 years.

Malek grabbed the Outstanding Lead Actor award in a drama series for his role in the popular American series Mr. Robot. 

Although Malek grew up in the United States, both his parents are Egyptian.

"I’m honored to stand here and represent my family and every single person who has helped me to get this far," he said upon receiving the award.

3. Yusra Mardini, Syrian swimmer and refugee

Mardini first made headlines  after her heroic life-saving swim off the Turkish coast. Mardini fled war-torn Syria, like the millions of others, via the Mediterranean. The motor of the boat failed them on their route and that's when Mardini used her exceptional swimming skills to help push a jam-packed boat for three hours, saving around 20 people.

She ultimately made it to Rio 2016, where she competed and won her heat in the 100-meter butterfly race on Aug. 6. Even though her timing did not qualify her to the semifinals, she drew global attention because of her incredible journey and the message she carried with her.

4. Naji Abu Nowar, Jordanian-British film director

It was a big year for Naji Abu Nowar, the Jordanian-British filmmaker behind "Theeb."

Dubbed the “first Bedouin Western," the film won big at the 2016 British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards. It was also nominated and shortlisted for the 2016 Oscar for the best foreign language film by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences. Theeb also won a number of awards at various film festivals around the globe.

The film didn't win the Oscar, but its massive success shown a big spotlight on Arab filmmaking and Jordan.

5. Noor Tagouri, Libyan-American journalist

Libyan-American journalist Noor Tagouri stole the spotlight this year when she became the first hijab-wearing news anchor on commercial US television.

Then, she became the first hijab wearing woman to be featured by Playboy magazine!

Tagouri was included in Playboy's Renegades of 2016  October issue, which features stereotypes-crushing men and women. "They’ve risked it all - even their lives - to do what they love, showing us what can be accomplished if we break the rules," explains Playboy.

6. Mohamed Diab, Egyptian film director

Egyptian film director Mohamed Diab captured the attention of people all around the world with his latest film "Eshtebak " (Clash), including prominent American actor Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks sent a letter to the Egyptian director, congratulating him on his extremely well put-together film. Daniel Craig, the face behind James Bond, sent him a similar letter, praising his work as it is a true reflection of Egypt as a country.

The film has received wide praise on the film festival circuit around the world and. And though it drew controversy, it was a hit in the Arab world as well. It has been selected as Egypt's official nomination for the Academy Awards.

7. Fousey, Palestinian-American YouTuber/actor

Palestinian-American YouTuber Yousef Erakat aka FouseyTUBE made it big in Hollywood.

The 26-year-old starred in Tyler Perry’s latest “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” a film that won over the box office with a $27.6 million opening weekend from more than 2,000 theaters in North America.

Erakat played Jonathan, a prankster frat boy who goes above and beyond to sweep Madea’s granddaughter off her feet. FouseyTube was definitely not new to the comedy scene, considering his social media presence and popularity among many Arab Americans. 

Still, Hollywood was a major step and a dream come true for this social media star!

8. Prince Fahad al-Saud, Saudi comic artist/game designer

In a post-apocalyptic Saudi kingdom, girls ride motorcycles, fight mutants and have limitless gender freedoms. At least that's how Saudi Prince Fahad al-Saud envisions it.

He brought his vision to life with a video game and comic universe called Saudi Girls Revolution (SGR), which depicts the rise of heroines in post-apocalyptic Saudi Arabia.

The world was let in on this universe with the release of the first comic in the series . More comics will tell the protagonists' unique backstories and are expected to follow in the lead-up to the game's launch.

9. Ahmad Abughaush, Jordanian taekwondo fighter

Taekwondo fighter Ahmad Abughaush made Jordanian history at the Rio 2016 Olympics, though he was considered an underdog at the start of the competition.

Abughaush won Jordan's first-ever Olympic medal since it joined the games in 1980, a gold.

Ranking first in the 68-kilogram category, he impressed the world with his first Olympic participation.

10. Mahmoud Sabbagh, Saudi film director

Director Mahmoud Sabbagh made headlines around the world with his romantic comedy "Barakah Meets Barakah."

It became the second Saudi film to ever be submitted to the Oscars, and it played to sold-out theaters in some of the world's biggest festivals. The feature is a drama comedy set in Jeddah. It depicts the relationship between a young couple who must battle through the constraints of societal segregation in the conservative kingdom, so that they can find a way to go on a first date.

"So I wanted to say a genuine story about my society and my generation in a movie," Sabbagh told StepFeed at September screening in Dubai.

11. Nura Afia, Lebanese-Moroccan-Swiss vlogger/model

A major American cosmetics brand named Muslim vlogger Nura Afia as its latest ambassador in November. Afia, who is of Lebanese, Moroccan and Swiss descent, represented CoverGirl in the launch of the So Lashy! BlastPro mascara. 

The YouTube beauty blogger, with over 200,000 subscribers, is best known for her makeup tutorials in a hijab.  "It feels so surreal. I never thought I would see Muslim women represented on such a large scale," she told Glamour. 

Afia joined the ranks of CoverGirl's other ambassadors including Sofia Vergara, Taylor Swift, Queen Latifah and Katy Perry.