MUSE — Eman Abo Al-Nasr talks trust, motherhood, and emotional strength

Eman Abo Al-Nasr, whose latest film, 'Louder,' premiered in Dubai on April 28. (Supplied)
Updated 27 May 2019

MUSE — Eman Abo Al-Nasr talks trust, motherhood, and emotional strength

  • The actress says she prefers the ugly truth over fake sweetness
  • She believes acting is feeling the emotions of the role you are playing

DUBAI: The Dubai-based Egyptian actress and model offers Arab News her life lessons

The most important thing in any relationship is trust. Quite simply, I’m allergic to fake people. I prefer the ugly truth, whatever it is. I respect it when people tell me to my face, ‘You did this. You’re horrible.’ I appreciate that much more than just smiling to my face and not meaning it. Just be truthful.

To me, acting isn’t faking. It’s feeling emotion; it’s totally different. You’re feeling somebody’s emotion. If you’re acting like you’ve lost someone, say, you’re feeling that pain. There’s nothing fake about it. In the moment, you believe it.

All mothers are heroes. The worst thing somebody can tell me is that as a mother you cannot achieve your dreams because of your responsibilities. It’s very difficult, for sure, and I have a lot of help. In Dubai, we don’t have our family around, which makes it extra-difficult. But the people around me support me, and my husband’s very supportive. He’s got my back.

Bringing up my daughter and watching her development is a huge source of pride. She’s four and a half. She’s mixed — my husband is Belgian — and that makes it even more interesting, because she has elements from both of us. It’s beautiful. She’s a very strong character. My husband always jokes: ‘I wonder where she gets that from?’ She’s great.

My generosity is sometimes misinterpreted as naivety. I’m a very friendly, easygoing person, and I believe everyone is nice, until they prove otherwise. I always start out trying to be myself, because that makes me more comfortable and it makes me happier. I’ve been much happier since I started thinking that way. But, yes, I believe everyone is born nice; it’s circumstances that change that.

Showing your emotions is not a sign of weakness. If I’m angry, I’ll show it. If I’m sad, I will cry. I believe that when you have the guts to show your real emotions, that’s a strength. I think the worst thing you can do, in any relationship, is leave things unsaid because you don’t want to appear weak. That’s a big mistake.

One of my biggest regrets is that, in high school, I had a close friend who people were avoiding, because her mother was a belly dancer. I was influenced by the closed mentality of my fellow students, and I started to distance myself from her too. When I heard she had committed suicide, I was overwhelmed by guilt. It still plays on my mind. It was a huge lesson for me, and it totally changed me as a person.

Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 24, 2019 shows men with henna-dyed beards in Dhaka on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

  • It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: From shades of startling red to hues of vivid tangerine, brightly colored beards have become a fashion statement on the streets of Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Facial hair of sunset tones is now the go-to look for older men wanting to take off the years, with an array of henna options available to the style-conscious.
“I have been using it on my hair for the last two months. I like it,” says Mahbubul Bashar, in his 50s, whose smile reflected his joy at his new look.
Abul Mia, a 60-year-old porter at a local vegetable market, agrees that the vibrant coloring can be transformative.
“I love it. My family says I look a lot younger and handsome,” he adds.
While henna has been used widely in the country for decades, it has reached new heights of popularity. It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard.
Orange hair — whether it’s beards, moustaches or on heads — is everywhere, thanks to the popularity of the colored dye produced by the flowering henna plant.
“Putting henna on has become a fashion choice in recent years for elder men,” confirms Didarul Dipu, head fashion journalist at Canvas magazine.
“The powder is easily found in neighborhood stores and easy to put on,” he adds.
But the quest for youth is not the only reason why more and more Dhaka barbers are adding beard and hair coloring to their services.
Top imams also increasingly use henna powder color in what experts say is a move to prove their Muslim credentials as some religious texts say the prophet Mohammed dyed his hair.
In Bangladesh most of the population of 168 million is Muslim.
“I heard from clerics that the prophet Mohammed used henna on his beard. I am just following,” says Dhaka resident Abu Taher.

Henna has long been a tradition at South Asian weddings. Brides and grooms use henna paste to trace intricate patterns on their hands for wedding parties.
It has also long been used in Muslim communities in Asia and the Middle East for beards.
Previously, aficionados created the dye by crushing henna leaves to form a paste. It was messy and time-consuming but modern henna powder is far more user-friendly.
Taher, who goes by one name, believes the dye has given his beard added vigour.
“Look at this growth. Isn’t it strong?” he exclaims pointing to his chin.
“The powder turns the grey hair red but does not change the remaining black hair,” he explains.
Some believe henna powder has health benefits and, as it is natural rather than created using man-made chemicals like some dyes, does not cause any medical issues.
The new trend has also boosted barbers’ fortunes — more men feel compelled to dye their hair and to do it more often at the salons.
“In the past we hardly would get any customers for this,” recalls Shuvo Das, who works at the Mahin Hairdressers in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh neighborhood.
“But now there are clients who come every week to get their beard dyed,” he says.
“It takes about 40 minutes to make the beard reddish and shiny. It is also cheap. A pack cost only 15 taka (four US cents),” Das explains as he massages the dye mixture — imported from India — into a customer’s beard.
According to Dhaka University sociology professor Monirul Islam Khan, the growing number of henna beards “is a sign of increasing Muslim fervor in Bangladeshi society.”
But, he adds, even those who are not strict followers do it.
He explains: “They want to look younger. Even the women are getting fond of it as it makes their hair glitter.”