When former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak cut off the country’s Internet in an attempt to silence the media, Al Jazeera got creative and began broadcasting via cellphones and reporting through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

This kind of lateral thinking thrust the “Arab CNN” into the global spotlight and landed its leader – Wadah Khanfar – at the top of Fast Company’s 2011 list of “The 100 Most Creative People in Business”.

“We think a lot about who’s going to be No. 1,” said Fast Company executive editor Rick Tetzeli, noting Khanfar’s selection, ahead of innovative leaders at Apple (Scott Forstall, No. 2) and Google (Sebastian Thrun, No. 5), is a testament to the Al Jazeera editorial director’s unorthodox approach to news.

“He had done something over the last year that was very current, very public and really astounding when looked at by an American audience that doesn’t get to see what he does much on television,” Tetzeli said.

Rounding out Fast Company’s top 10 are: Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner (No. 3); Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey (No. 4); Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei (No. 6); social entrepreneur Sal Khan (No. 7); physician Jim Yong Kim (No. 9); Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington (No. 10) and late-night TV host Conan O’Brien (No. 8).