Ten years ago, Zein Al-Atat had a close business relationship with the son of Mme Berri, wife of head of parliament Nabih Berri. At that time, business was good and prosperous, Zein opened many branches in Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt. His name became so popular that many referred to him for any medical consultations; ipso facto revenue increased too but without the usual share for his local protectors who requested a higher commission from their new famous partner. Zein stalled the discussions hoping to get away with a fortune. But the milk turned sour.
The influence of MP Berri and his surrounding hit him hard, the Ministry of Health at that time issued a public warning that Zein Al-Atat products contains cancerous ingredients that should be retrieved and confiscated from Lebanese and foreign markets.
The consequences were disastrous for the “miracle man”, his bank accounts were suspended, his inventory seized and his name publicly bashed.
On June 22nd 2012, Ibrahim Al-Atat, the son of Zein Al-Atat was driving his car with his girlfriend along the Damascus road (Mdeyrij) when two vehicles blocked his car and kidnapped him. (DailyStar) Strangely, the incident didn’t bring a lot of media attention, like if someone already knew the perpetrators and the reasons behind this kidnapping. It took both parties a week to negotiate “a new business deal”, and on June 30th the son of Zein Al-atat was released without any public agitation and Ibrahim simply stated “I was very well treated, we were like brothers”.
From that moment, a new Zein Al-Atat was born. Actually, it was a new partnership that was born between Zein and local powerful figures. Three months later, his ban was lifted and his products were declared safe, allowing the re-opening of all his branches in addition to new ones. He invested in cheap TV commercials where we see him riding a horse and flying a parachute, he even undertook facial surgeries (botox) to keep a young look vis-à-vis the public.
In early 2014, he had massive airtime on Lebanese channels explaining his discovery of new miracle products while showing the new pharmaceutical factory that employs professionals who work on providing the best medical and beauty products that every person needs. But many believe that his products are nothing but a mixture of traditional medicine or simply a placebo of different herbs.
Media exposure remained his main obsession; intensive new advertisements focusing on the beauty aspect were broadcast, associating female models with his products in a very unprofessional and cheap productions. His image was seen on billboards across the country, highlighting him as the reference for beauty products in the world.(sic)
Last week, Zein Al-Atat shocked everyone when he was granted by Mohammed Shahid Khan an honorary certificate as “Ambassador of Goodwill” by the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and was promised a diplomatic passport.
Surprise, the whole procedure was forged.
The UN reconfirmed yesterday that it has no affiliation with this organization or with Mohammed Shahid Khan, who turned to be a fraudulent posing as a UN ambassador giving people who pay large sums a fake certificate of recognition. His profile doesn’t exist on official UN websites and is limited to an “official” Facebook page he created.
It’s still not clear if Zein Al-Atat was duped or if knew about this scheme in order to dupe the public opinion.