Where is Rima Maktabi?
UPDATE from CNN after the jump.....
Maktabi joined CNN in 2010 as host of the magazine feature show Inside The Middle East and has had a few appearances on air outside of that show. However, she never played a key role in CNN's award-winning coverage of the Arab Spring.
She was clearly missing in CNN's "On The Frontlines" special where the stars of that coverage included Anchor/Correspondent Hala Gorani and Middle East Correspondent Arwa Damon, both of Arab origin as is Maktabi.
"The timing seems to align with Ms Maktabi's 2-year anniversary with CNN, the length of an average contract term. She could be in negotiations or out already. However, if she were staying with the company, her contract would've been renewed by now and her Twitter bio wouldn't have changed." says one source with knowledge of the inner-workings of CNN. "There is also the option that she was demoted to a desk job or maybe she is on leave to receive on-air training and accent reduction classes. She can certainly take advantage of both." added the source.
Inside The Middle East launched with Rula Amin (who is now an Al-Jazeera Correspondent). Hala Gorani hosted the show for years before returning to anchoring full-time for CNN International based in Atlanta. Producer Schams Elwazer in addition to various non-Arab reporters and anchors have rotated the hosting duties of the show at various times before Maktabi. Leone Lakani hosted the show in July and August - as Lakani asked users to contact her at the end of a recent episode of Inside The Middle East, we're thinking she may have replaced Maktabi on the show.
According to the source, "CNN Abu Dhabi, where Ms. Maktabi is based, seems to operate under different standards from the main CNN and all scenarios are possible. If I am to guess, I'd say she's out and already figuring out her next move. The most natural move would be a return to her previous employer Al-Arabiya. If this happens, one should expect that the Arab-language network will hail her return as a victory to help Ms. Maktabi save face from her record-short experience at CNN."
Again, the question is... Where is Rima? Fans on the Inside The Middle East Facebook Page have been asking as well:
Dana Saliba IME..where on earth is Rima? has she left CNN IME? why did you remove her picture from the profile picture? The majority of FB friends are watching IME to see her as they were her fans since AL Arabiya(September 1st)
Pascal Piano Rima, where is the show for this month? Nothing photos, or brief!(September 6th)
Many people think she was not ready for air - with her thick accent, not really trained for CNN and not being comfortable in a live-shot situation. This probably teaches CNN a lesson about getting someone trained before rushing to put them on-air. What do you think? Click and comment below.
We've reached out to CNN for comment - we'll keep you posted.
UPDATE: We contacted CNN for more information and asked if her contract was not renewed. A spokesperson responded: "No, that’s false. Rima Maktabi chose to leave CNN to pursue new opportunities elsewhere. We are sad to see her go and we wish her nothing but the best."
Photo courtesy of alarabiya.net