An Executive Active in News Media
About Jamal Daniel
An experienced businessman, Jamal Daniel founded a website dedicated to providing fresh perspectives on the Middle East. Called Al-Monitor, the news outlet received high marks from media stakeholders less than a year following its establishment. For instance, the Washington Post commented that the digital provider represents an “invaluable” source for Middle Eastern news. In addition to engaging with the journalistic world, Jamal Daniel serves as president of Crest Investment Company in Houston, Texas.
Complementing his business roles, Jamal Daniel created The Levant Foundation. The philanthropic organization seeks to spread knowledge concerning Levant and Middle Eastern culture as seen through the lens of three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Among its many achievements, the nonprofit played a key role in launching the Foundation for Inter-religious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue. Further, The Levant Foundation provided the funds necessary for the University of Texas Press to publish scholarly books on issues related to the Levant and the aforementioned religions. Mr. Daniel no longer serves The Levant Foundation as a board member, but he remains a principal benefactor.
Al Monitor Awarded IPI Free Media Award
With more than 30 years of experience managing investments in manufacturing, energy, technology, and real estate, Jamal Daniel is Chairman of Crest Investment Company, headquartered in Houston, Texas. With a sustained interest the Levant region, Jamal Daniel is the publisher of news and commentary website al-monitor.com, which has been awarded the International Press Institute (IPI) Free Media Pioneer Award.
The IPI Free Media Pioneer Award was established in 1996 to honor media companies or organizations that have fought to ensure press freedom in the countries in which they operate. The award is presented annually to distinguished organizations in the struggle for free and independent news coverage.
In 2014, Al-Monitor was honored with the IPI Award for its unrivaled coverage of the Middle East region during a time of particular socio-political upheaval. It was credited with providing daily coverage and analysis of the complex region in an introspective and independent way.
Al-Monitor was also recognized for its achievements as a news organization independently covering a region with many serious restrictions on the freedom of the press.
Established in 2012, Al-Monitor provides analysis and reports from experienced journalists and experts across the Middle East, with a sharp focus on Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Palestine, and Turkey.
Notable Accomplishments of the Levant Foundation
A graduate of the University of Texas, Syrian-born Jamal Daniel serves as Chairman of Crest Investment Company and Founder of the Levant Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas. The foundation aims to increase knowledge and research of Levantine culture, religion, and history.
Since its establishment, the Levant Foundation has propelled noteworthy accomplishments in the field of academia. In 1999, the foundation cofounded the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD) with the University of Geneva in Switzerland. FIIRD subsequently established a humanistic academic program to explore the connections between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Additionally, in expounding this theme of interconnectedness, FIIRD published the three Holy Books (the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur’an) in their original languages and in chronological order.
Most recently, the Levant Foundation sponsored an academic grant at Georgetown University. The Jamal Daniel Fund for the Study of the Levant offered scholarships to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting professors at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
The Levant Foundation’s University of Balamand Support Project
An experienced investment executive, Jamal Daniel holds degrees from the University of Texas, Pepperdine University, and the University of Geneva. Currently, Jamal Daniel serves as the Chairman of Crest Investment Company in addition to his work as the founder of the Levant Foundation.
Located in Houston, Texas, the Levant Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to further understanding of the Levant region in the Middle East and the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, which stemmed from the area. The organization has engaged in a number of projects since its inception, including the launch of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, the establishment of the Jamal Daniel Fund for the Study of the Levant at Georgetown University, and support for the University of Balamand in Tripoli, Lebanon.
The Levant Foundation’s support of the University of Balamand focused on the the School of Tourism and Hotel Management. Specifically, funding from the foundation was used to build the Aida & Halim Daniel building at the school. The school, which is located adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, directly impacts the local Lebanese economy by providing education in the hospitality industry.
The Formation of Al-Monitor
The founder of the Levant Foundation, Jamal Daniel serves as Chairman of Crest Investment Company, which is based in Houston, Texas. Jamal Daniel is also the founder of Al-Monitor, which he serves as chairman of the board.
A recipient of the International Press Institute’s Free Media Pioneer Award, Al-Monitor was created in 2012 to offer deeper coverage on issues pertaining to the Middle East. Based in the United States, Al-Monitor quickly developed a reputation for quality journalism, which has led recognition from publications such as the Huffington Post and The Washington Post, who rely on Al-Monitor as a valuable source of insight and information about what is happening in the Middle East.
Today, Al-Monitor publishes reports created by dozens of independent contributors and partners with an array of media publications throughout the Middle East. Partners include Al-Ayyam in Palestine, Calcalist in Isreal, Haber Turk in Turkey, Réalités in Tunisia, Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal in Lebanon, Al-Khaleej in the United Arab Emirates, and many others.
The Founding of Al-Monitor
Since graduating with an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982, Jamal Daniel now lives in Houston where he is the chairman of Crest Investment Company. Jamal Daniel also founded the website Al-Monitor.
Thanks to the inspiration and dedication of Mr. Daniel who was born in Syria but raised in Lebanon, Al-Monitor was created on February 13, 2012. The analysis and reporting that has characterized the site have been without peer in its scope of coverage. Showcasing well-known journalists and experts from all over the Middle East, including Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Palestine.
Since its inception, Al-Monitor has been spotting the larger trends in the region while also covering current events, and it has partnered with two dozen media publications. The Washington Post has referred to the site as “invaluable,” while Huffington Post says it is "increasingly a daily must-read for insightful commentary on the Middle East.”
Al-Monitor Wins Free Media Pioneer Award
Born in Syria, Jamal Daniel graduated from a Jesuit high school in Lebanon. Eventually earning an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin Business School in 1982, Jamal Daniel is founder and CEO of the Al-Monitor news site.
Established on Feb. 13, 2012, the Al-Monitor was named 2014 Free Media Pioneer Award winner by the International Press Institute (IPI). This award is presented annually to a media or press freedom institution that separates itself from the crowd to deliver critical and independent news. Launched in the wake of the Arab Spring, Al-Monitor considers itself the “pulse of the Middle East,” it has become a model of for unbiased and fearless media coverage during an era of political turbulence.
The IPI also honored Iranian journalist, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, with its World Press Freedom Hero award. Mr. Shamsolvaezin used to be an editor of several Iranian newspapers that were banned by the government, and he was incarcerated several times for his criticism of the government.
Levantine Films’ Inspirational Film “Fundamentals of Caring”
Jamal Daniel serves as the chairman of Houston-based Crest Investment Company and also oversees the film production enterprise Levantine Films. Backed financially by Crest, the company focuses on developing movies that are commercially viable and character-focused. Jamal Daniel’s firm helped bring the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures to the big screen, as well as Paul Rudd's The Fundamentals of Caring.
Billed as an “inspirational buddy comedy,” The Fundamentals of Caring concentrates on Rudd’s character Ben's journey for redemption following the death of his son, as he becomes a caretaker of an incommunicative teen living with muscular dystrophy. On a road trip in search of famous American sights, they instead find friendship and meaning in their imperfect lives.
Making its premiere at the Sundance Festival, the film, which co-stars Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts, was distinguished as one of the festival’s few independent movies featuring top Hollywood talent. The movie was acquired as a Netflix Original shortly before its festival premiere.
Levantine Films’ Hidden Figures Shares the True Story of NASA Women
In his day job, Jamal Daniel serves as chairman of Crest Investment Company, managing investment portfolios in oil and gas, manufacturing, high technology, and real estate. Jamal Daniel also founded the Levant Foundation, a nonprofit organization, and a production company, Levantine Films.
As a New York-based production, development, and film financing company backed by Crest, Levantine Films focuses on creating character-driven, commercially viable movie productions. Its most recent film, released in 2016, titled Hidden Figures is the true story of African-American female mathematicians who were employed by NASA and helped America beat the Soviet Union in the Space Race.
Starring Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae along with Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst in supporting roles, Hidden Figures was based on the biographical book written by Margot Lee Shetterly. Shetterly’s father worked as a NASA research scientist while her mother was a Hampton University English professor, and they knew many fellow African-American families who were employed by NASA around the same time. Hidden Figures has a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Profiling 2014 Levantine Award Winner James Ivory
The Chairman of Crest Investment Company, Jamal Daniel is an investment manager with over three decades of experience. Jamal Daniel is also an entrepreneur who founded Levantine Films. Between 2010 and 2014, Levantine Films distributed its annual Levantine Awards, the last of which was given to acclaimed film director James Ivory.
A frequent collaborator with Ismail Merchant, an Indian film producer who passed away in 2008, Ivory also worked alongside German scriptwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala on numerous projects. Many of Ivory’s early films, such as Shakespeare Wallah, were set in India and influenced by the likes of Satyajit Ray, a Bengali filmmaker.
In 1961, Ivory’s film company Merchant Ivory Productions released its first film, The Householder, based on one of Jhabvala’s early novels. Later collaborations produced films known for displaying subtle sensitivity and understated brilliance. Releases like Remains of the Day and A Room with a View enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and received multiple awards, including Oscar nominations and wins.