Overall, 2017 has been a flourishing and prosperous year for the region. This wouldn't be possible without the collective effort of the residents of the Middle East, but especially the few individuals who made the past year remarkable in their own way.

Compiled by our editorial team, here is a list that features some of the most successful and greatest personalities in the Arab world. StepFeed has chosen to extol these individuals for their continuous aspirations and willingness to empower others.

1. Paula Yacoubian (Lebanon)

Paula Yacoubian is a successful Lebanese TV presenter, communications strategist, and public speaking trainer.

Renowned across the Arab world, the veteran presenter currently hosts a program titled Inter-views on Lebanon’s Future Television. 

In November 2017, Yacoubian scored one of the most-awaited interviews of the year, when she sat with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the wake of his shock resignation from Riyadh. 

Later during the same month, the media personality organized one of the largest donation drives in Lebanon. The drive benefited DAFA, an NGO Yacoubian helped found in a bid to support refugees and people of low income in the country.

2. Amin el Gamal (Egypt)

Amin el Gamal is an Egyptian-American actor, who has starred in popular U.S. TV series including The Newsroom, Shameless, Transparent and The Librarians, among numerous others in short films and independent productions.

The successful actor is outspoken on the difficulties he often faces, being Arab, Muslim, and homosexual. In 2017, el Gamal’s career reached new heights after he was cast in the reboot of the popular American TV series Prison Break.

In Prison Break: Resurrection, he plays Cyclops, a shady Yemeni villain with links to terrorists.

3. Leila Slimani (Morocco)

On her way to being dubbed "the most controversial female writer in the Arab world," Leila Slimani is not afraid of unveiling Muslim women's sexuality.

In 2017, she released her book, Sex and Lies: Sexual Life in Morocco, narrating the private, intimate lives of Moroccan women in their own words. 

From homosexuals and women who have had premarital sex, to young women who were forced to undergo reconstructive vaginal surgery, people of different backgrounds opened up to the author. 

Morocco, Slimani's homeland, is another Arab Muslim-majority country where women are still fighting for equality and where sex remains an untouchable taboo.

With laws ruling against premarital and same-sex intercourse, "women can only be either virgins or married," as Leila Slimani says in an interview with the French website, Nouvel Obs.

In 2016, she won the prestigious Prix Goncourt for her psychological thriller, Chanson douce, with more than 450,000 copies printed in 2016. 

As young Moroccans look for a voice and a dash of freedom, this courageous award-winning author comes as their advocate.

4. Dalia El Faghal (Egypt)

Earlier this year, Dalia El Faghal took to Facebook to tell the world that she is in a relationship with another woman. Soon after her Facebook post went viral, El Faghal began receiving both messages of hate and support. 

"I was attacked by people ... and my dad got death threats and other hateful messages," Faghal said in an interview with BuzzFeed.

However, following her public announcement, Faghal's father congratulated her on her new relationship - something she did not expect. 

Despite her father's support, Faghal believes she is "the most hated woman in Egypt" because of her sexuality. That, however, hasn't stopped her from standing in solidarity with the LGBT community in the Arab world.

5. Laila Hzaineh (Jordan)

Palestinian-Jordanian feminist vlogger Laila Hzaineh has been fighting on behalf of Arab women, calling out regressive views and smashing the patriarchy ... one viral video at a time.

In 2017 alone, the 20-year-old took to social media to tackle pressing issues facing women in the region, challenging societal norms and patriarchal concepts that are often under-addressed or tabooed, such as sexism, harassment, and domestic violence.

One such issue was Hzaineh's response to Waseem Shehada, a self-proclaimed Palestinian director's sexist "letter to women", in which he shames women for wearing revealing clothing. 

Laila Hzaineh powerfully called Shehada out, one argument at a time.

"We wear short skirts, fill our faces with make-up and laugh out loud in public... What does it matter to you?" she said in the video.

6. Adeela (Lebanon)

Adeela is currently one of the most popular satirical social media pages in the Arab world. The accounts are run by an anonymous admin who reacts and comments on happenings across the region through a fictional, Arabized version of British megastar Adele.

In less than two years, the imaginary character has amassed over 750,000 followers on Facebook, 550,000 followers on Instagram, and an additional 137,000 followers on Twitter. Recently, however, the user behind the platform decided to turn its back on Facebook, citing a drastic drop in organic reach in 2017.

7. Amr Maskoon (Syria)

Boasting over one million likes on his Facebook page and amassing millions of views on YouTube, Amr Maskoon is the 18-year-old who won people's hearts with videos that are both hilarious and relatable.

Clips of him impeccably impersonating Arab moms have gone viral time and again, catapulting him to fame. 

The young Syrian talent started off on Vine after he fled to France, defying the struggle of leaving his war-torn country. He decided to create videos "to cheer people up" and "change their moods", he told Being Arab. 

In 2017, Maskoon, whose fan base continues to grow, was featured on StepFeed’s list of the Arab world’s top 20 Arab social media stars.

8. Nasreen Alissa (Saudi Arabia)

Young Saudi lawyer Nasreen Alissa has been credited with launching an app that makes it easier for Saudi women to know their rights.

The app called "Know Your Rights" was officially launched in 2016, providing women free legal advice and services to help empower them with much-needed knowledge. 

Since its official launch, the app has seen thousands of Saudi women use it to figure out how they can get the law on their side in various situations. So far, the app has been downloaded 55,000 times, Nasreen Alissa revealed in an interview with CNN earlier this year.

In 2017, she received international media attention for the work she's been doing. "An app is not enough ... the country is moving forward in that but it's really baby steps," she told CNN at the time.

9. Anas Bukhash (UAE)

Anas Bukhash is one of the UAE’s leading Emirati entrepreneurs, having co-founded Ahdaaf Sports Club and Bukhash Brothers. 

Besides being a board member of the Dubai Sports Council, Bukhash also gives motivational talks on entrepreneurship at UAE universities, large events, and organizations. 

In 2015, Esquire named him 'Entrepreneur of the Year', this was followed by the 'Best Dressed Award' in 2016. 

Through his powerful and influential social media presence, Anas continues to ask important questions and empowers young aspiring entrepreneurs to follow his path of hard work and success.

10. Manal Rostom (Egypt)

Fierce Egyptian athlete Manal Rostom seized international headlines in 2017 after becoming the face of Nike's Pro Hijab linea sportswear collections catering to modest and hijab-wearing women all around the world. 

At the time, we talked to Manal, an Egyptian national who grew up in Kuwait and currently lives in Dubai, about some of the challenges she faced growing up in an Arab household. 

"Of course, my dad was extremely resistant and very opposed to the idea. 'A girl going camping for days on a mountain, we don’t have this in our culture. What will people say about you? What if you get eaten by cannibals?'" she told StepFeed.

She has since managed to climb the highest mountain in Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro),  the highest mountain in Egypt (Mt. Sinai), the second highest in Africa (Mt. Kenya), and became the first Egyptian hijabi to climb the highest mountain in Europe (Mt. Elbrus). 

She has also attempted the second highest mountain in the world, outside the Himalayas, Aconcagua. 

11. Maysoon Zayid (Palestine)

Maysoon Zayid with sign language interpreter at NYUAD Source: Supplied

Maysoon Zayid is an American-Palestinian actress, comedian, disability rights advocate, and writer. 

The outspoken comic was born in New Jersey in 1974 with cerebral palsy, is known as one of America's first female Muslim comedians and the first person ever to perform stand-up comedy in Palestine and Jordan. 

She is a graduate of Arizona State University and the co-founder/co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and Muslim Funny Fest.

Every year, Zayid spends three months in Palestine, where she runs an arts program for disabled and orphaned children in refugee camps. Her honorable commitment helps the children use art to deal with trauma and bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled children. Eighty percent of the funding for the camps comes from her comedy work. 

Throughout 2017, with performances in Abu Dhabi and other Arab countries, Maysoon continued to sell out halls, inspire and empower her followers.

12. Ascia (Kuwait)

With over 2 million followers on Instagram, Ascia is considered to be one of the most prominent fashion bloggers in Kuwait. 

The mother of two is the co-founder of the fashion blog The Hybrids. Her partner in blogging is non-other than her husband Ahmad ASB. 

In 2017, the social media star launched her own clothing line in collaboration with RivaHer collection named "Modest by Ascia" focuses on minimal yet trendy outfits for the modern Arab and Muslim woman. 

During the same year, Ascia was also featured on StepFeed’s top 20 Arab social media stars list.

13. Amrou Al Kadhi (Iraq)

The way Amrou Al-Kadhi sees it, "you have not met a drag queen until you’ve spent time with many of the Middle Eastern women in Harrods!"

Referring to himself as a queer Iraqi Brit, Amrou Al-Kadhi is a drag queen, writer, actor, and filmmaker. He has written for The Independent, The i-Paper, i-D Magazine, Hunger Magazine, CNN, and HUCK Magazine. 

Currently, he has several short films and TV shows in various stages of production. Al-Kadhi's first short film, Nightstand, screened at festivals around the world. 

In an op-ed earlier this year, Al-Kadhi pointed out that, as an actor, he has been asked to play a terrorist more than 30 times and he's only 26 years old.

14. Sara Al Madani (UAE, Bahrain)

Sara Al Madani is an Emirati-Bahraini businesswoman, public speaker, government representative, and a fashion designer

Her Excellency ventured into the business world at a time when very few Emirati women dared to do so. At the young age of 15, defying gender and cultural norms in the region, she started her fashion label called Rouge Couture. She is also the owner of a Dubai-based restaurant Shabarbush. 

Throughout 2017, Sara took part in numerous global public speaking engagements such a the Global Citizen Forum and Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival and inspired countless women to follow her path to success.

15. Alia Al Mansoori (UAE)

Alia Al Mansoori is a 15-year-old Emirati aspiring astronaut who was chosen by a panel of experts as the winning entry for the Genes in Space UAE competition. 

Earlier this year, Alia took a trip with her family to the U.S. to visit the historic launch pad where Apollo 11 took off for the moon and met Chris Ferguson, the commander of the last space shuttle mission. 

In 2017, Alia continued to make national headlines with her extraordinary achievements at such a young age. She is a confident ambassador for young Emiratis who she wishes would follow in her footsteps and adopt science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related careers. 

Alia Al Mansoori has also had a meeting with Canadian Marc Garneau, the country’s minister of transport, who is a former astronaut and a veteran of three space shuttle missions. She dreams of becoming the UAE’s first astronaut.

16. Tima Shomali (Jordan)

Often dubbed the Arab world’s Tina Fey, Tima Shomali is a successful Jordanian actress, comedian, and filmmaker. 

Being one of the most popular comedians in the Arab world, especially among Jordanian women, Shomali uses humor to combat common social issues Arab women deal with on a day-to-day basis. 

In 2017, the popular star’s career continued to grow from strength to strength as she attended festivals, workshops, and conferences across the Arab world. 

During the same year, Shomali was also featured in Netflix MENA’s special Ramadan campaign which celebrated the region’s most successful leading ladies.

17. Halima Aden (Somalia)

Fierce Somali-American model Halima Aden has been taking the world by storm, making international headlines time and again for breaking stereotypes surrounding Muslim women. 

In 2017, Aden made history as one of the first hijab-wearing models to make it to the biggest runways in the industry, taking part in New York Fashion Week as she showcased Kanye West's Yeezy collection ... all while wearing the hijab.

This came shortly after signing a deal with international modeling agency IMG Models, which also manages Gigi and Bella Hadid, and Miranda Kerr. Although the agency had signed Muslim models before, Aden became the agency's first hijab-wearing model.

In June, the 20-year-old also became the first-ever hijabi model to get featured on Vogue Arabia. 

Growing up in a Kenya refugee camp, Aden and her mother moved to the U.S. when she was just 7-years-old. The model rose to fame after participating in the 2016 Miss Minnesota pageant, becoming the first-ever contestant to compete in a hijab and burkini. 

18. Buthaina Al Raisi (Oman)

Buthainia Al Raisi is an Omani actress, fashion designer, and entrepreneur, famous across Gulf countries.

Other than being one of the most prominent Omani actresses of her generation, Al Raisi is also the entrepreneur and fashion designer behind the brand 'Beeba World'. 

In 2017, her massive following on Instagram hit 4.3 million followers, landing her on StepFeed’s list of the top 20 most influential Arab social media stars.

19. Shamma Al Mazrui (UAE)

Shamma Al Mazrui was only 22 years old when she was appointed as the UAE's Minister of State for Youth Affairs In 2016. 

Her Excellency became the youngest minister in the world and her tasks are focused on representing youth issues and aspirations in the UAE. 

She was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and received her BA degree in Economics from NYUAD. Shamma followed her educational path to graduate with a Masters of Public Policy degree from the University of Oxford in 2015. She was the UAE's first ever Rhodes scholar. 

Since then, the young government representative worked in private equity for Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, interned at the UAE Embassy in Washington D.C., and served as a public policy analyst at the UAE's Diplomatic mission to the United Nations. 

Throughout 2017, she continued to set an international example of youth representation at the highest level. 

In September, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for 2018

At the young age of 23, the UAE-based government official became the youngest-ever minister to be featured in the book of world records.

20. Hend Amry (Libya)

She's been dubbed the "Queen of Muslim Twitter", but insists it's not true at all.

Hend Amry is perhaps as modest as she is also prolific. The Libyan-American, who currently resides in Qatar, shoots out a constant stream of tweets to her nearly 200,000 followers, commenting on social issues and breaking news, all with a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm. She slays the Islamophobic and racist trolls with her stunning wit.

"People often think I live a really exciting life because I'm so effusive in my commentary, but my favorite activity is reading quietly, watching a good movie or spending time doing art projects with my kids. I find that the small things in life are what give the most pleasure, and I try to savor the small things," she told StepFeed earlier this year.

Amry personally sees herself as "carrying on a conversation with people from around the world."

"Sometimes that conversation is fun and funny, sometimes it's sad and painful, other times it's frustrating and even angry. But it's never dull," she said.

21. Fatima Al Kaabi (UAE)

Fatima Al Kaabi is a 15-year-old inventor from the UAE and one of the youngest-ever innovators in the country. 

When she was just 13 years old, Fatima invented a solar bag which can charge electronic devices, power lights and a fan for trekkers. 

She also invented a printer for the visually impaired, for which she received the first-place award in the Robot Olympic, and developed the solar bag after a visit to a desert with her family where she could not charge her cell phone. 

Her other inventions include a photographer robot, cheerleader robot, and an electronic belt for the hearing impaired. 

With the help and support of high-level government officials, in 2017, Fatima continued to inspire the nation through public talks and innovations.

22. Amani Yehya (Yemen)

Amani Yahya is renowned for being Yemen's first-ever female rapper. 

She uses her artistic voice as well as her rhythm to highlight the ongoing daily struggles that are faced by women in her war-torn country and the region in general, including child marriage and sexual harassment. 

At the young age of 24, Yahya has taken the world by storm, with her name making several international headlines. 

In 2015, despite being subjected to some negative reactions from within the conservative Yemeni society, Yahya pursued her musical ambitions and made it all the way to the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival. 

When she was younger, Yahya had fled Yemen with her family and moved to Saudi Arabia, where she went to school and later returned to Yemen to study dentistry. During the summer of this year, Yahya was named among StepFeed's top 20 Arab social media stars

In 2017, through social media and activation of her followers, she continued to serve as a meaningful voice for the voiceless who are suffering in Yemen.

23. Mena Massoud (Egypt)

Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud shot to international fame after he was selected to play the lead role in the live-action remake of Disney's Aladdin. After the decision was announced, Massoud said he feels "so honored and grateful for the opportunity".

Born in Egypt to Coptics parents, Massoud was raised in Canada. When he's not on set filming, he spends his time between Toronto and Los Angeles.

Many had been worried that Disney would whitewash the live-action film as per usual. Rumors had circulated that Director Guy Ritchie was having trouble finding actors for the film. So when an Egyptian was selected, many fans felt relieved that at least the title character would be played by an Arab.

Prior to taking on the role of Aladdin, Massoud had numerous roles in lesser-known films and television shows.

24. Faiza Bouguessa (Algeria)

Source: bougessa.com

French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa started her journey into the fashion industry with a sketchbook, a pencil, and an eye for art and fashion at a very young age.

After consistent hard work and dedication, Bouguessa launched her cutting-edge fashion label in Dubai called Bouguessa

In 2017, Bouguessa made headlines after Beyoncé donned an emerald velvet robe designed by Bouguessa's fashion label. 

The classy velvety dress was being sold for 3,471 dirhams ($945) and sold out immediately.

25. Hamsa Mansour (Egypt)

Hamsa Mansour is a young Egyptian woman who works as an adventure trip leader. She aims to become the first Egyptian woman to solo-cycle around her country and estimates she’ll be able to complete the epic journey in 2019.

In November 2017, Hamsa started training for the adventure, embarking on a "short haul" 775 km trip around the Red Sea and Sinai. 

Speaking to Stepfeed, the adventurer said one of the aims of her journey is "to inspire others to see that there is an alternative way of living".

26. Gigi Hadid (Palestine, U.S.)

Gigi Hadid is an American-Palestinian fashion model who was born and raised in Los Angeles. She was named among Glamour's 2017 list of 'Women of the Year', an annual award show honoring extraordinary women. 

At the time, the 22-year-old once again proudly reminded the world of her Palestinian heritage. 

In November as well as numerous other occasions throughout the year, Gigi also perfectly shut down a racist right-wing activist on social media by taking a stance against hatred and bigotry.

27. Laila Mourad (Lebanon)

Laila Mourad is a Lebanese-Canadian vlogger who launched a YouTube channel back in 2015 after graduating from the Lebanese American University in Beirut and moving back to Saudi Arabia - where her family is based. 

In the past two years, the young vlogger’s YouTube channel has gained substantial attention. In 2017, Laila Mourad was featured on StepFeed’s list of the Arab world’s top 20 social media stars. 

A few weeks later, her YouTube channel officially hit 1 million subscribers.

28. Linda Sarsour (Palestine)

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour has become a leading voice in criticizing the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

This year, Sarsour was one of the leading figures behind the Women's March, which saw millions of people walk the streets of their cities in solidarity with women. The march was described as the largest demonstration against the U.S. administration in American history. 

"I stand here before you unapologetically Muslim-American. Unapologetically Palestinian-American. Unapologetically from Brooklyn, New York," she said during her speech at the Washington march.

Previously, she was a recipient of the "Champions of Change" award, given to her by former U.S. President Barack Obama. Sarsour was instrumental in ending the NYPD's practice of "spying on Muslim American citizens", a secretive program that was implemented following the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Sarsour also made it possible for Muslim kids to celebrate two holy holidays in New York. Thanks to her efforts, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2015 that public schools will close to celebrate Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha.

29. Mawtoura (Lebanon)

This satirical Lebanese Facebook page is a constant source of comic relief and biting wit.

With more than 145,000 followers on Facebook and more than 80,000 on Twitter, the social page has grown to be a well-known source of Lebanese humor and social commentary. 

Whether it's hilariously mocking the latest Miss Lebanon pageant or cleverly critiquing recent political happenings, Mawtoura has become a trusted place to find the best Lebanese sarcasm and satire.

30. Ilhan Omar (Somalia)

In 2016, Minnesota made history after electing Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somali-American former refugee, to the state legislature. 

Since then, Omar has inspired many with her fight for minority representation. 

In 2017, TIME magazine featured Omar on the cover of its September issue, which revolved around a central theme of "Firsts" - a multimedia project that included 12 different covers featuring 12 different women.

Omar was listed among 45 other women who have shattered barriers in an effort to change the world. 

"To the Muslim and Somali communities, my gender was a problem because politics is supposed to be a man’s role," Omar said at the time.

"Then there was the typical stuff that women candidates deal with - as a mother, how irresponsible I must be to want to run and devote as much time out of the home. No one ever asks the male candidates … how they expect to balance family life." 

But nothing has stopped Omar from reaching for the skies and beyond.