Model Elisa Sednaoui celebrates her birthday with social media tributes

Model and humanitarian Elisa Sednaoui turned 31 on Dec. 14. AFP
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Updated 15 December 2019

Model Elisa Sednaoui celebrates her birthday with social media tributes

  • Model and philanthropist Elisa Sednaoui Dellal celebrated her 31st birthday on Saturday
  • The Egyptian-Italian-French model took to her Instagram Stories to share reposts of birthday tributes from her close friends

DUBAI: Model and philanthropist Elisa Sednaoui Dellal celebrated her 31st birthday on Saturday, and received some very special gifts from her nearest and dearest.

The Egyptian-Italian-French model took to her Instagram Stories to share reposts of birthday tributes from her close friends, in addition to heart-warming illustrations hand-drawn by her two sons, Jack, 6, and Samo, 3, with her husband Alexander Dellal.




She shared heart-warming illustrations hand-drawn by her two sons. (Instagram)

 

The sister-in-law of accessories designer Charlotte Olympia also took to the social media platform to upload a sweet screenshot that showed herself on a Facetime call with her dad, who gave her “the best birthday gift.”

The Italy-born beauty, who spent much of her childhood in Egypt, wrote alongside the snap: “My papa giving me the best birthday gift. He tells me he met the father of one of our Funtasia Egypt students, who told him his son eagerly waits everyday for nearly an hour in front of the door of his house for the Funtasia van to come get him because he loves being at the center so much.” 




'My papa giving me the best birthday gift,' she wrote on Instagram Stories. (Instagram)

Funtasia is a cultural center located in Luxor that was founded by the non-profit Elisa Sednaoui Foundation in 2016 to provide creative learning programs for youth across Egypt. 

The Elisa Sednaoui Foundation’s mission is to promote the educational development of children and adults, as well as provide access to hands-on creative learning experiences and programs. Today, it operates in more than 15 different locations inclusive of public schools in Italy and Egypt. Funtasia has supported more than 5,920 children and youth and trained over 700 adults in both countries, according to its website.

In addition to her philanthropic efforts, the now-31-year-old has plenty to celebrate. Having modeled since a young age for Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren, Sednaoui has also appeared in a string of campaigns for other renowned brands, including Alberta Ferretti and Christian Louboutin to name a few.

Meanwhile, just last month, she partnered with former Princess Alia Al-Senussi of Libya to guest curate the “Contemporary Curated” auction at Sotheby’s London. 

The sale of ten of the works collected for the auction — which included pieces donated from Arab artists such as Youssef Nabil, Basim Magdy, Etel Adnan and Nadia Ayari — benefitted the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation’s Funtasia project.


From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

Zain Al-Rafeea spoke to Arab News about his role in ‘The Eternals.’ (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2020

From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

LOS ANGELES: A child is forced to leave home to escape a terrible fate. Growing up in a strange land, he develops a special talent and achieves greatness.

It is a familiar story that could describe the lives of a host of superheroes. But it also applies to refugee and actor Zain Al-Rafeea, and his courageous journey from Syria to stardom.

Al-Rafeea was born in 2004. His family fled the Syrian conflict when he was eight, moving to Lebanon, where they were forced to find shelter in the slums of Beirut.

“Unfortunately, refugees face harsh conditions in Lebanon because the country has so many of them,” Al-Rafeea told Arab News. “I never thought I would be an actor or a famous person. I just dreamt of being safe with my family and that nothing bad would happen to them. I was focusing on making money to support my parents.”

In late 2017, Al-Rafeea’s life was changed by a chance encounter with Jennifer Haddad, casting director and collaborator of acclaimed Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki.

“I was in the street with a group of friends. I saw Jennifer, and she asked me if I would like to act. My first reaction was like ‘OK, I have no problem with that.’ She took a video of me, sent it to Nadine and things went on from there.”

Labaki cast Al-Rafeea as the lead in her 2018 drama “Capernaum.” The film was a hit, and the young actor’s performance was lauded by both audiences and critics.

“I did not imagine in my wildest dreams that I have such an international success,” Al-Rafeea said. “I just thought of it as an acting experience, but things went in a much better direction.”

In November, it was announced that Al-Rafeea will join the cast of Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals.” The film tells the story of a race of immortal aliens who lived on Earth in secret, and features A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

“The introduction happened through Nadine. Directors and producers from Hollywood talked to her and she put us in touch,” Al-Rafeea said.

The actor met his fellow cast members on the Canary Islands during the early stages of filming. “They were nice and their welcome to me was very sweet,” he said. “They invited me for lunch and we chatted for hours, I felt so happy.

“When we finished the first day’s shooting, Salma Hayek came up and hugged me. That night she gave me an iPad and iPhone, and we chatted and listened to music together.”

The teenage star couldn’t reveal much about his role in “The Eternals,” only that he joins the alien heroes as a human who can speak a mysterious 7,000-year-old language.

Life in the Beirut slums is a thing of the past for the Al-Rafeea family. With their son’s success, they were able to relocate to Norway.

“It is a perfect country, the people are so calm, and there are no fights or even traffic. Having water and electricity all the time is a great thing.” While he is excited about his new home, Al-Rafeea has not forgotten his friends, family and the home he left behind in Syria.

“Work hard for nothing is impossible — look what happened to me,” Al-Rafeea said in a message to children facing situations like the one he endured. “Simply dream big.”

“The Eternals” is due to be released in the US on Nov. 6, 2020. A Middle Eastern premiere date is yet to be announced.