In 1953, Omar El-Sharif became an over night screen idol with his first role in the Egyptian film, Sira' Fil Wadi (The Blazing Sun). He first started working in his father's successful lumber company, then converting to Islam and marring renowned actress Faten Hamama in 1955. He starred in a total of 22 films from 1954-1961, before his first debut in an English language film "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1962. Omar El-Sharif's best remembered role is David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago", where his son Tarek Sharif appeared as Yuri at the age of 8. Omar El-Sharif is fluent in Arabic, English, Greek and French and can also speak some Italian and Turkish. He has been nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, and a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor, Most Promising Newcomer award and in November 2005 was honored with a UNESCO medal in recognition of his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity.Umm Kalthum (1904-1975) is one of the most famous Arab singers of the 20th century. She was known for her powerful, pure voice and her moving renditions of both neoclassical and colloquial Egyptian lyrics. After the Egyptian defeat in the Six-Day War (1967), Umm Kulthum toured the Arab world on behalf of Egypt, donating the proceeds from her concerts to the Egyptian government. During her career, Umm Kulthum recorded more than 300 songs and made 6 motion-picture musicals. She became associated with President Gamal Adel Nasser, and in many interviews and avenues to the public she has promoted both the Egyptian and Arab culture.
Youssef Chahine born in 1926 in Alexandria to a Christian family established himself from the start as a director with an independent mind, ready to challenge authority. All his films have adopted some controversy or other, whether it be criticizing U.S foreign policy or Egyptian/ Arab social issues. He has been recognized on the international scene as early as 1951, where he was invited to the Cannes Film Festival and in 1978 won a Silver Bear at Berlin for his film "Alexandria…Why?". Chahine has also received the 50th Annual Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. He has made more than 40 films, the last "This is Chaos" premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2007. Chahine died this August at the age of 82 after several weeks in coma.
Since 1942, and in her pursuit of free studies in art Inji Eflaton, participated in the exhibition of the "Art and Freedom Group". At the time modern Egyptian art, was conformed by bonds of academism and formalism and this was the first society to attempt to free art from its bonds. Starting March 1952, she had her first of 28 solo exhibitions in Egypt and world wide, including Rome, Venice, Paris, Dresden, Warsaw, Moscow, Prague, New Delhi, San Paolo and Kuwait. Inji Eflaton who died in 1989, received from the French Ministry of Culture, in 1986 a medal of merit called "Cavalier of the Arts and Literature".
Taha Hussein (1898- 1973) was born to a lower middle-class rural family and lost his eye sight at a very early age. His father was keen on giving Taha the best in education, he was among the first to join and graduate with a Ph.D from the, then newly founded university. He received a scholarship to France and was the first Egyptian to obtain a BA from Montpellier University, and then a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne on Ibn Khaldoun (the fourteenth century Arab thinker). Taha Hussein became one of the leaders of the Arab culture renaissance, through his powerful will, craving for knowledge and his ability to challenge the established values.
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