The six most influential films from the Golden Age of Arab cinema

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“Doa al-Karawan” is an adaptation of acclaimed writer Taha Hussein’s 1934 novel.
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A still from "Al-Ard."
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A still from the movie "Al-Mummia."
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A scene from the comedy "Imm El-Arousa."
Updated 08 April 2018

The six most influential films from the Golden Age of Arab cinema

  • Celebrate the heyday of Arab cinema with these timeless classics
  • From tragedies to comedies, these films are iconic and loved across the Arab world

DUBAI: Our pick of the most influential films from the Golden Age of Arab cinema will help you decide what classic movie you are going to watch this week. So grab your popcorn, turn off your phone and take your pick.
“Doa Al-Karawan”
(The Nightingale’s Prayer)
The prolific Henry Barakat directs this adaptation of acclaimed writer Taha Hussein’s 1934 novel. The compelling, claustrophobic tale follows illiterate housekeeper Amna (Faten Hamama) as she tries to get revenge on ‘The Engineer’ (Ahmad Mazhar) who has seduced her sister and ruined her reputation.
“Al-Ard”
(The Land)
This 1969 adaptation of Abdel Rahman Al-Sharqawi’s novel, directed by Youseff Chahin, follows the struggle of a rural village in the 1930s against local authorities who are set to reduce its already meager water supply. A hard-hitting early examination of people-power that still resonates today.
“Nahr El-Hub”
(The River of Love)
Ezzel Dine Zulficar’s 1961 adaptation of “Anna Karenina” features the ‘First Couple’ of Egyptian cinema — Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama — in their last film together before their divorce. Hamama plays country girl Nawal, who is married off to a wealthy aristocrat but falls for army officer Khaled (Sharif). The couple’s real-life chemistry gives the movie an extra charge.
“Imm El-Arousa”
(Mother of the Bride)
Atef Salem’s 1964 comedy classic stars legendary Egyptian actors Tahiya Karioka and Emad Hamdi as Zeinab and Hussein — hardworking parents struggling to raise seven kids while arranging their eldest daughter’s upcoming wedding. And finding inventive ways to raise the necessary funds.
“Al-Mummia”
(The Mummy)
Ranked among Egyptian cinema’s greatest films, Shadi Abdel Salam’s 1969 movie is loosely based on the true story of the Abd El-Rasuls, a clan of grave robbers and black-market traders. It’s a thoughtful reflection on Egyptian identity which — like many on this list — hints at the tensions between rural and urban life.
“Khally Ballak Min ZouZou”
(Watch Out For ZouZou)
Starring Egyptian cinema icons Soad Hosny, Hussein Fahmy and Taheya Cariocca, Hassan Al Imam’s 1972 film — a perennial favorite in Egyptian households — tells the story of a college professor who falls in lust with a student. His fiancée decides to expose said student’s “shameful secret” — she was a dancer! — in an attempt to ruin her. Al Imam explored the friction between Egypt’s modernist urges and its conservative traditions.


Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

'Plates numbers Sharjah to Abu Dhabi' by Ebtisam Abdulaziz. (Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2019

Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

  • Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition
  • The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018

DUBAI: Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition — organized by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development — on Nov. 21.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist.

“Unfortunately, when I finished high school, I couldn’t get the chance to study art since there were no art colleges in the UAE. I decided to get a degree in mathematics because it is an interesting subject to me, as I believe art and maths are connected with each other,” the artist, whose work was exhibited as part of the UAE Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, said.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist. Supplied

In 1999, she kicked off a career in the arts and hasn’t looked back since. The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper, all of which explore “human nature, culture, religion… and the workings of the human brain,” according to the artist.

“There is a connection between art and maths,” she added, explaining the link between her two passions. “I merged the two parts of my brain to get ideas and (build on this) mixture between art and maths.”

 The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018 and Abdulaziz is particularly excited about her new piece.

The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper. Supplied

“My piece for Al-Burda is a dream come true. I had this idea of making a huge installation work that involves maths, geometry and Islamic patterns. The idea… started from just a sketch… to a big acrylic painting on canvas and now it has become a 3-D work.”

The optical illusion-style work is almost trippy to look at due to its accordion-style surface and multitude of bright, block-printed colors and that boldness is also visible in her advice to budding Emirati artists.

“My advice to them is to go for it, think big, go crazy with your art. It is who you are, it is your way to express yourself,” she said.