Award-winning Egyptian actor and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ star Gamil Ratib dies aged 92

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Gamil Ratib, left, with Omar Sharif from a scene in Lawrence of Arabia. (Supplied)
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Born in Cairo in 1926, Ratib’s love of performing started in France while studying at university. (Photo: Instagram/@msdar_news)
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Gamil Ratib in the French film "L'Aventuriere des Champs-Elysees" from 1957
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Gamil Ratib as Majid in Lawrence of Arabia. The actor was widely loved for his roles in Arab and European cinema and TV. (Supplied)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Award-winning Egyptian actor and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ star Gamil Ratib dies aged 92

  • The actor was loved by Egyptian and Arab audiences but also known in the West for his role in Lawrence of Arabia
  • Tributes pour in from colleagues and fans for a career that spanned many decades

CAIRO: The award-winning Egyptian-French actor, Gamil Ratib, who was widely loved by Arab and European fans, died on Wednesday aged 92.

An icon of Egyptian cinema and drama, Ratib, will be remembered by Arab fans for his roles in a number of TV series such as “Yawmiat Wanees,” “El-Raya al-Bayda,” “Al-Asdekaa,” and “Wajh El-Qamar.” 

The veteran actor also appeared in French and Tunisian cinema and took parts in many distinguished international movies, most famously the1962 Oscar-winning “Lawrence of Arabia.”

Actors who worked closely with Ratib shared their condolences on the social media.

Born in Cairo in 1926, Ratib’s love of performing started in France while studying at university. (Photo: Instagram/@msdar_news)

“My father, My friend and my best actor. Good bye. You left a great history and a great human achievement behind you,” said Mohamed Sobhy, the renowned Egyptian actor who worked closely with Ratib.

Iman Sarkis, another veteran actor, said: “Good bye my friend who had the most kind heart. A great actor and lovely memories together to remember.”

“May Allah have Mercy on the artist Gamil Rateb. He was a beautiful person with an amazing personality reflected on the screen on any role he plays. He covered a space that will be very far fetched to replace,” said Nabil El-Halafawy.

Ratib’s love for acting came from his interest in French theater, which he developed during his years at university there.

Gamil Ratib in the French film "L'Aventuriere des Champs-Elysees" from 1957. (Supplied)

His career spanned 65 years where he starred in both French and Egyptian films and first appeared in a movie in 1945 titled “I Am the East.”

Ratib, who was born on 28 Aug. 1926 in Cairo, has been honored for his work both in Egypt and France, and was a recipient of France’s Legion of Honour in 1995 for 59 years of exceptional work in cinema and film.

Egyptian film lovers also came forward with an outpouring of admiration for Ratib.

“Good bye our legend, you will be missed, we loved you and we will always will,” said Nada El-Bermawy, a Cairo resident.

Gamil Ratib as Majid in Lawrence of Arabia. The actor was widely loved for his roles in Arab and European cinema and TV. (Supplied)

Mohamed Hussien, 41, another Cairo resident, said: “The classy, the evil, the funny. We lost one of our best actors today but will always stay in our hearts and memories.”

Ratib struggled with bad health for several years and in a recent TV appearance he shared his desire for death to end the battle with his illness.

“Death will be restful for me from life problems, ageing and disease,” he said. “I am not fearing death I just fear the pain. I will also follow the people who loved me and get next to them.”

He died at Cairo’s Anglo-American Hospital, his agent confirmed in a statement.


Catch the coastal chic of Biarritz

Biarritz is one of the best surfing locations in Europe. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 June 2019
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Catch the coastal chic of Biarritz

  • The French seaside town mixes old-world glamour with a very modern surfing scene
  • This patch of Basque Country — less than 20 miles north of the Spanish border — has a windswept, relaxed charm all its own

DUBLIN: It’s hard to put a finger on what makes Biarritz so special. Maybe it’s the faded charm, maybe it’s the sprinkling of stardust that the numerous guests (the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra) brought to the city, or maybe it’s the low-slung surfer’s vibe, but this patch of Basque Country — less than 20 miles north of the Spanish border — has a windswept, relaxed charm all its own. It’s something of a hidden gem, with surfers, Parisian hipsters, retired French tourists and a smattering of in-the-know Europeans descending here every year.

Its most recent heyday was during the 1950s, when luminaries including Sinatra and Coco Chanel visited. From the 1960s onwards, Biarritz’s star fell, with Hollywood and the European elite favoring France’s Riviera as a holiday destination. Yet recent years have seen the town emerge back into the spotlight — although these days you are more likely to see surfers rather than film stars, as the town has embraced its position on France’s rugged southern Atlantic coast.

There are countless surf schools, and Biarritz is the birthplace of the sport in Europe. The (reportedly) first surfer here, appropriately enough, had Hollywood connections. Peter Viertel, a screenwriter, was in town as the movie he had co-written, “The Sun Also Rises,” was being filmed there in 1957. The long, wide sandy beaches provide the perfect place to learn, with the crashing Atlantic surf offering ample big waves to ride.

The town is small enough to explore in an afternoon, with countless cafés and restaurants dotting the narrow streets. There’s plenty of shopping too, with local boutiques such as Jox & An (which sells rope-soled espadrilles) next to the likes of Gucci and Duchatel, which features labels including Nina Ricci and Belenciaga. Indeed much of the town’s charm is seeing moneyed old French couples in their designer clothes rubbing shoulders with dreadlocked surfers in board shorts.

It might officially be in France, but Biarritz is Basque country, something very much apparent at Caroe, which mixes Basque and Nordic cuisine. This minimally designed pintxos bar specializes in local seafood and serves up everything from monkfish foie gras, smoked eel and trout gravlax. If you prefer a venue overlooking the water, head to Alaia, an ultra-stylish beachfront joint on Socoa Beach, 30-minutes south of Biarritz. You can enjoy lamb, mashed-potato pancakes, and hake and cabbage in front of the bobbing fishing boats. If you prefer to eat on the go, or grab something for a picnic on the beach, head to Les Halles market, which is filled with stalls dishing out sumptuous fare: from local goat’s cheeses and anchovies in olive oil and vinegar to limoncello jelly and hazelnut bread.

The most salubrious lodging in town is the Hotel du Palais, the brainchild of Eugenie de Montijo, the wife of Napoleon III, who chose a patch of hillside overlooking the Bay of Biscay for the Imperial residence. The hotel became the center for France’s elite, who holidayed at the sumptuous building and held balls, picnics and fireworks displays, while welcoming world leaders and royalty from around the world. These days the hotel retains all its old-world glamour, and its breakfasts are worth the room price alone.

There’s not a whole lot to do in Biarritz, but that’s sort of the point. It’s a place to while away the hours in a café, or to take long walks on one of the numerous beaches. It’s a place to relax in, not to do too much. If you do want to exert yourself, then there are a number of surfing schools where you can learn to ride the waves. Most offer similar courses (and prices), with La Vague Basque being the best reviewed. All ages and nationalities come here to learn to surf, so don’t be shy about getting that wetsuit on.

After a reviving dinner, head to the promenade and grab yourself an ice cream. One of the great French pastimes is people-watching, and the cafés along the promenade offer the perfect place to watch the world go by. Part French, part Basque, and with a wonderful mix of elegance, cool and Fifties chic, Biarritz might just be the best beach town in France.