Omar Sharif, an Egyptian superstar

Friday 17/07/2015
Omar Sharif with Egyptian actress and wife Faten Hamama in a 1966 photo.

Cairo - Egyptian-born actor Omar Sharif will most likely be remembered outside his country for his good looks and roles in epic films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doc­tor Zhivago. But in Egypt he is re­membered for his personality and the values he personified in unfor­gettable films over many decades.
The handsome actor with a charm­ing smile and sparkling eyes died July 9th at a hospital in Cairo at the age of 83.
He was, above all, an icon of love and romance. Together with fellows actors Ahmed Ramzy, Faten Hamama and Abdel Halim Hafez, Sharif was for many in Egypt a reminder of the “good old days” and for “pure and honest love”.
His Egyptian fans remember the patriotism he stood for in his role in the classic film Stranger in My House, in which he played a revo­lutionary activist fighting the cor­ruption of the ruling elite in Egypt before the 1952 revolution. Other fans will not forget the values he represented in Ayyamna al-Holwa (Our Best Days), which co-starred his lifelong love Hamama and Ramzy, his close friend.
Sharif, who made his screen debut in the 1954 Egyptian film Siraa Fil- Wadi (The Blazing Sun), will be most remembered as the Prince Charming of generations of Egyptian women.
“I think his very Egyptian looks and the romantic roles he played in his films contrib­uted a lot to this,” cinema critic Sami Helmi told The Arab Weekly. “He was loved until the last minute of his life.”
As a star, Sharif’s bright­ness never dimmed. Among his later roles was one with Egyptian comedian Adel Emam in Hassan wa Mor­cus (Hassan and Morcus), a 2008 comedy about the troubled ties between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims. His last film — 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham – is in post-production.
The last time Sharif spoke to the media was late in 2014 when he returned to Egypt. He told an Egyptian news­paper then that he returned home to spend his remaining days. “I came back to live, die and be buried here,” he said.