Maya Hojeij: A Storyteller At Heart
What inspired you to embark on your journey in presenting and anchoring?
Journalism was always my passion. The most fascinating experience to me was watching the war reporters cover the first gulf war; it was our first experience with satellite television in the early 1990s as kids, and I became addicted to everything news.
What are the main traits one must possess to become a News/Business anchor?
Persistence, resilience, and practice, practice, practice. When it comes to business news, it’s all about delivery, not only knowing the material and understanding it but also delivering it in a way that makes the audience interested and wanting to know more while always remembering that content is king.
As a Senior Business Anchor, what milestones has Asharq News reached throughout the years of your engagement with them? On the other hand, what milestones have you reached throughout the years of anchoring with Asharq?
Asharq is a new channel. I have built my career over the past 20 years beginning with Abu Dhabi TV, then Al Arabiya News Channel, moving on to Dubai TV, and now with Asharq. Every one of those places was an important milestone in my career and helped shape the Journalist, Mentor, and Academic I am today.
Asharq News Services is part of SRMG (Saudi Research and Media Group), one of the oldest and most profound Arab media organizations. The exclusive content agreement with Bloomberg has given us an added value worth building on to provide excellent business content for an Arabic-speaking audience. My current daily live show is called “East West” with Bloomberg, and I am so proud of the difference we are making in the Arab media scene. The reach we have is being articulated through tangible interactions that we are achieving on our many platforms.
It is also essential that the work set-up is coherent, and the work ecosystem provides a productive environment to cultivate innovation and growth and creates future leaders.
What are the difficulties & challenges one must prepare to face when entering the Media world? How did you overcome these challenges?
The media world is very competitive, and it is hard to keep your focus and not get distracted by everything going on around you. Make sure you focus on yourself, your work, your added value, and your professional development. Always keep an open mind towards an ever-evolving industry and accept the fact that it is a learning process. The latter will help you improve and acknowledge that your contribution to the media ecosystem is significant.
Remember, we are building the industry for future generations and setting the bar; our responsibility is to set it high. As an Academic teaching Journalism at the American University in Dubai, I have the privilege of interacting with a fantastic combination of youngsters eager to change the world, and bridging the gap between theory and practice helps them acquire the tools needed to handle the ecosystem. Moreover, it teaches me what the new generation is capable of and keeps me on top of what is new and trending for this generation to set better standards for the industry.
Can you share some tips with our readers on enhancing their presenting skills and TV presence?
First and foremost, know your material, be well-read and well-informed. Some say journalists don’t know everything about one thing, but they know at least one thing about everything; make sure what you know is the right thing to know. Be clear, concise, correct, and always practice, then practice again, then practice some more!
If you are anywhere near a camera, assume it is on and recording every word and action. Don’t do or wear anything distracting on TV; people will remember that and not what you say. Don’t lean back in your chair; it will make you look unpleasant. Don’t sit up perfectly straight; you will look stiff and nervous. Keep moving your head and body a little, but don’t move your hands above your face, below your chest, or broader than your shoulders.
These are some of my tips, but if you want to learn more, subscribe to one of my media training courses!
How has motherhood affected you on both personal and professional levels?
For years, motherhood was all that mattered to me. I forgot all that I am and who I was, and I only focused on those two tiny, intelligent people. My whole life became sidelined by theirs – something we carry with us from our culture and ancestors – while I was still juggling a career in Television and Academia. Luckily, however, I must have done something right because my kids called me out on it and pushed me to realize that my happiness in life and career was essential for them. So, I took a step back and looked at my life, and decided to be happier and more successful to make them happier and be true to who I really am. Being a mother should make us better people, and that’s precisely what I think my kids did to me.
Can you tell us about your podcast? What value does it offer to women in the Arab World that other platforms cannot?
The initial idea of the podcast was based on many aspects that combined my passions: women empowerment and Arabic content. Today it is an innovative digital platform where I could exercise my media experience and tell the stories of inspirational women because every one of us has a story, and each story is worth telling. It is your choice to tell your story, and it is my job to tell it well. So, my goal of inspiring youth with stories of successful women is projected in my podcast “Ahweh w Khabriyeh” with Maya Hojeij on all podcast platforms. The podcast was featured for a few months on the “New a Newsworthy” page on apple podcasts, and my previous podcast, “Rakwet Ahweh,” was on the top 10 list in 2020.
What added value are you looking to bring upon your audience using your voice and others’?
When I feature women on my podcast, this will push my listeners to believe that nothing is impossible, that anything is achievable. It will inspire them to follow their dreams and celebrate themselves. Overcoming timidity and vulnerability is a significant struggle for many women – including myself – and celebrating successful women who will inspire a generation of leaders is how I deal with it and touch people’s hearts and souls. Women who succeed and overcome numerous hurdles often shy away from talking about their accomplishments. They are worried they would be labeled as selfish or boastful people. Women need to stand by their success and achievements and allow people around them to recognize, celebrate, and learn from them.
What’s next for Maya Hojeij?
Focusing on my kids’ development and growth will always be a top priority, but I have short, medium, and long-term plans on both personal and career levels.
Career-wise, my goal is to continue growing and being at the forefront of developing and leading the media outlook. I want to continue contributing and inspiring women in leadership and generations of thought leaders in Academia. To make an impact and leave a stamp, it is crucial to focus on what people remember us for, our legacy. In my case, I strive to be recognized for elevating the people around me and enjoying their success by celebrating mine because I was part of their journey.
I am also looking forward to pursuing and completing my Ph.D. and publishing my book. So, stay tuned!
To know more about Maya, visit this link.