Zeina Akar: Lebanon’s New Defense Minister is First Woman in Arab World to Hold Post

Zeina Akar was born in Koura, Lebanon. She a BS degree in Social Sciences in Marketing/Management from the Lebanese American University. Akar is Greek Orthodox. She is married to Jawad Adra, a Sunni businessman who heads one of the country's largest companies, and built the Nabu Museum with artefacts mostly from his private collection. They were married in Cyprus as they could not have a civil marriage in Lebanon as a Christian and Muslim couple.

In 1998, she founded the Social and Cultural Development Association (INMA), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that services clusters of villages and specific neighborhoods throughout Lebanon. As a partner and executive director for Information International, Adra lead the Beirut-based research and consultancy firm in survey research database collection and analysis of projects for the Arab World and the Near East in the areas of health, education, agriculture, infrastructure facilities and demographic and socio-economic studies.
Akar was appointed Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in January 2020, one of six women appointed to the twenty-member Cabinet in the new government headed by Prime Minister Hassan Diab. She is the country's first female defense minister and the first female defense minister in the Arab world. 

Akar has no military or defense background. She has been accused of being affiliated with various political parties, but sources denied this saying she has no partisan background and was chosen by President Michel Aoun.  Lebanon's new prime minister claims to lead a government of technocrats but critics argue the line-up is window dressing for a set of ministers who are neither experts nor independent.Protesters reacted angrily to the line-up, arguing it fell short of a clean break from the sectarian-driven way of apportioning government jobs that has characterised Lebanese politics for decades.

At the handover ceremony on 23 January, 2020, when she replaced Elias Bou Saab, Akar spoke about the right of the people to protest and pressure the government and the government's responsibility to act in the people's best interests. She said her priority was fighting corruption and asked people to watch she would do before judging her.