Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa is the creator of THE 99, the world acclaimed comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype. THE 99 has received positive attention from the international media with Forbes calling THE 99 “One of the Top 20 Trends Sweeping the Globe.”
Dr. Al-Mutawa has earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University and a Masters in Organizational Psychology from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. He earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University.
Dr. Al-Mutawa is the recipient of The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations “Marketplace of Ideas” Award; The Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award, presented at the 2009 World Economic Forum on The Middle East; The Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children's Media; and a UNESCO prize for literature in the service of tolerance.
Dr. Naif was recently named one of 'The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World' by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center (in Jordan) in concert with Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
TEDGlobal 2011, TEDGlobal 2010
Areas of Expertise
media, Clinical Psychology
An idea worth spreading
The Golden Rule is the common tenet found in all religions. It is the basis of justice and human equity that holds us together as societies. But the political manipulation of people often depends on separating those things that bind us from those things that make us different. Instead of valuing our commonalities and celebrating our individual differences, those who seek power over us often use the fear of those differences to divide and subdue us.
THE 99 offers the children exciting and entertaining messages of the triumph of good over evil, where the core principles of its creator’s religion (in this case, Islam) are used as transparent building blocks for the powers possessed by its comic superhero characters.
The positive role models created by THE 99 are as valuable to Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and non-religious children as are the values of honor, truth, mercy, knowledge, strength, generosity, foresight and the rest of The 99 values upon which the series is based.
I'm passionate about
Empowering children to shape their lives and the future of society around the core values of peace and justice and to do in one generation that which mankind has failed to do in its entire history.
Talk to me about
As a PhD candidate, I worked at the Survivors of Political Torture Unit at Bellevue Hospital. My experience with people betrayed by their own leaders was a terrifying look at my good fortune of birth.
People don't know I'm good at
If I knew things I was good at that other people didn’t know, I would have told them about them long ago. Honesty is a quality I possess in abundance; modesty is not.
My TED story
In 2009, I spoke at both TEDx in Dubai and TEDx New York City. That led to an invitation to speak at TED Global in the summer of 2010.
When introduced to TEDx, I spoke about the story behind my creation of THE 99, cultural icons drawn from a tolerant, modern Islam, expressed in traditional Superhero comics for children and young families. THE 99 has become the cornerstone of a multi-national, multi-cultural business with licensed comic books, merchandising, theme parks and a global animation partnership with Endemol, the world’s largest syndicator of television programs. Later this year, THE 99 will stand cape-to-shoulder with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in a new Special Edition comic series. The drive behind the creation of THE 99 was to combat the hatred that is peddled under the umbrella of Islam and replace it with world-class family entertainment based on the worldwide values that are the core decency of all people. That is essence of my TED story.