Egyptian icon Hind Rostom: The Marilyn Monroe of the East

Egyptian icon Hind Rostom: The Marilyn Monroe of the East
Hind Rostom was even dubbed Egypt’s Brigitte Bardot. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 September 2022

Egyptian icon Hind Rostom: The Marilyn Monroe of the East

Egyptian icon Hind Rostom: The Marilyn Monroe of the East
  • For this week’s edition of our series on Arab icons, we profile the incomparable star known as the first lady of Egyptian cinema

DUBAI: Often referred to as the Marilyn Monroe of the East, the late Arab icon Hind Rostom left her mark on the region’s film industry, having starred in more than 70 movies.

Born Nariman Hussein Murad in Alexandria, Egypt, on Nov. 12, 1929, her father was Turkish and her mother Egyptian. After her parents’ divorce, a young Rostom lived an unsettled life, following her policeman father from city to city until she moved as a teenager to Cairo in 1946.

She first lit up the silver screen as a non-speaking extra in 1949 and went on to turn heads with her first major role in Egyptian film director Hassan Al-Imam’s 1955 “Banat El-Lail” (“Women of the Night”).

Hind Rostom was born in Alexandria, Egypt. (AFP)

She is, perhaps, most famous for her turn as a lemonade vendor in Youssef Chahine’s tense 1958 drama “Cairo Station,” with her complex portrayal of a woman on the fringes of society earning her kudos from the film industry, as well as fans for generations to come.

With her blonde locks and striking features, she soon became a fashion icon with women around the Arab world flocking to copy her latest look — she was even dubbed Egypt’s Brigitte Bardot, and The First Lady of Egyptian Cinema — however, it was her frequent portrayal of strong female characters that earned Rostom an everlasting spotlight.

She is known for her portrayal of outspoken characters alongside legendary actors such as Farid Shawqi and Omar Sharif, defying stereotypical gender norms of the time and inadvertently becoming a feminist symbol for many.

In an interview with veteran broadcast journalist Mahmoud Saad in 2010, Rostom said that one of the favorite movies of her career was “Emraa Ala El-Hamesh” (“A Woman on the Outside”).

The 1963 film tells the story of a famous actress who after murdering her husband was sentenced to life imprisonment and had to leave her son to be raised by a maid. The maid worked as a dancer and gave the son to a wealthy family. Years later, the mother leaves prison and works as a maid for the family to stay close to her son.

That year, and after also starring in “Shafiqa the Copt,” Rostom’s career blossomed, and she went on to accumulate accolades.

She received a special mention at the Venice Film Festival for Fatin Abdel Wahab’s “Women in My Life” in 1957 and won a lifetime achievement award from the Arab World Institute in Paris.

Rostom also received best actress award from the Association of Egyptian Cinema Writers and Critics for her part in “The Coward and Love” in 1975, the only award she accepted throughout her life. She is quoted to have said she believed it to be sincere.

When speaking to Saad, a year before her death in August 2011, she said she felt, “an actor’s prize is people’s love,” adding, “they are the ones who talk about us and watch us, so it’s the people.”

She received a special mention at the Venice Film Festival for Fatin Abdel Wahab’s “Women in My Life” in 1957. (Supplied)

In a move that is almost unheard of in today’s entertainment industry, Rostom retired at the peak of her career in 1979 and refused to work again. “My life is not for sale,” she said when producers offered her the chance to turn her life story into a drama series.

“I have no regrets,” she told Saad about her decision to retire. “I did it for the love of my life, my prince, Dr. Fayad,” she added, referring to her second husband Dr. Mohammed Fayad, who she was married to for more than 50 years.

Rostom had a daughter, Basant, with her first husband, director Hassan Reda.


Eleven years after her death, the actress remains an idol to many actors and filmmakers in the Arab world.

“She was born a star. She was a real icon,” renowned Egyptian director Mohamed Yassin told Arab News.

“At that time, actresses like Faten Hamama, Nadia Al-Gendy, and Hind Rostom were the leading stars in movies. This male-dominated cinema probably came later. Now, the male actors lead the productions and that is due to so many changes that took place in the Egyptian and Arab societies,” he said.

One of Rostom’s famous titles was “Queen of Seduction.” However, many people, including Tunisian Egyptian star Hend Sabri, believe that she presented these roles respectfully.

In an interview with Al Raya, Sabri said: “Hind Rostom is my idol. She is the ‘Queen of Seduction’ in Egypt, whose work in cinema was respectable and purposeful.”

Yassin added: “Her beauty had no boundaries and she had fierce femininity. She was every Arab man’s dream woman.”

The filmmaker, famous for the 2008 flick “The Promise” and this year’s Ramadan series “El-Meshwar,” noted that at the time, people accepted her roles without getting into details about ethics and morals. But that was not all she presented to her audience. “She did drama, tragedy, comedy, and other genres,” he said.

Egyptian critic Essam Zakaria, who is the artistic director of the Alexandria Film Festival for Mediterranean cinema, told Arab News: “She portrayed an evil character in ‘La Anam’ (‘Sleepless’), the naive rich girl in ‘Rod Qalby’ (‘Back Again’), and the seductive woman in ‘Ebn Hamido’ (‘Son of Hamido’).

“Her roles were diverse. She is one of the few who were able to play the good and the evil characters at the same time.

“She presented femininity and seduction in a way that left a mark. She became a role model and many other celebrities tried to imitate her afterwards,” Zakaria said.

Yassin pointed out that many actresses now feared taking on roles as bold and daring as some of Rostom’s.

“She was exceptional, and no one can now present what she did at her time,” he added.

One of her most famous fans, Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe, previously said: “Hind Rostom will always be an icon in our hearts.”

Last year, people from around the world flocked to buy eight pieces from her jewelry collection on sale at auction house Sotheby’s. Displayed as part of the art house’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Part II auction, the items were offered by the actress’ family for the first time. All eight pieces in the sale were sold at prices above their high pre-sale estimates.

Rostom was known for her passion for collecting jewelry, sourcing items from around the world through her favorite boutique in Cairo, as well as designing a number of signature pieces.

Diamond necklace, set with brilliant cut diamonds, Chatila (est. 7,500CHF - 8,500CHF). (Supplied)

In his 2011 book, “Hind Rostom: The World’s Greatest Actress,” Hollywood and cinema historian Maximillien De Lafayette described her as, “an international star and an unmatched diva of the golden years of cinema, both Egyptian and foreign.”

According to the online website of Egypt’s broadcasting organization Maspero, the American writer gifted Rostom the book and sent it to her Cairo house, only a few months before she died.

“Hind Rostom was magical. She has tremendous talent, breathtaking beauty, and artistic presence that transcends time, place, and eternity,” De Lafayette wrote in his book.

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh
Updated 03 October 2022

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh
  • Exhibition reflects upon notions of time and memory in an era of rapid change

RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute launched a new exhibition in Riyadh titled “Tales of Nostalgia” on Monday.

The exhibition showcases the works of 12 Saudi and international artists who reflect upon notions of time and memory, and nostalgia, exploring alternate narratives through emergent technologies.

Curated by Marnie Benney and Misk Art Institute assistant curator, Alia Ahmad Alsaud, it will be on display at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Art Gallery until Jan. 15. 

“‘Tales of Nostalgia’ is both a reflection upon and a conversation about where we are, as a species, in our endless, intertwined relationship with time and technology,” the organizers said. 

Featuring immersive digital soundscapes, the exhibition aims to shed light on an increasingly technological and digitized world, particularly the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks, workshops, and opportunities to listen to and engage with participating artists over the course of several days.


Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November
Updated 03 October 2022

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

DUBAI: The second edition of Middle East Fashion Week (MEFW), organized by the Middle East Fashion Council (MEFC), is set to take place from Nov. 7-10 at The Agenda in Dubai Media City.

The event will also hold the second edition of the Middle East Sustainable Fashion Forum –  a panel of speakers leading discussions on environmentally responsible and financially viable ways to integrate sustainable practices into the design process and the supply chain.

Keeping this theme in mind, the choice of venue becomes more apparent. The Agenda’s vision is to become the world’s first carbon-negative performance venue. “The sound and lighting industry is historically very power hungry, and coupled with AC and facilities, traditionally a large CO2 footprint would be in place for an event such as this. The Agenda will be using the latest technology to reduce power consumption,” reads a description on the event's official website.

Guests attending the event will be able to see their individual carbon footprint for attending the shows and how it is offset.

Designer applications for Middle East Fashion Week are open until October 10, 2022. To apply, email [email protected]


Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show

Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show
Gigi Hadid hit the runway in an all-denim look. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2022

Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show

Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show

DUBAI: Supermodel Gigi Hadid hit the outdoor runway at Givenchy’s latest show at Paris Fashion Week on Sunday.

The US Dutch Palestinian star showed off an all-denim look, featuring a button-down jacket along with a below-the-knee jean skirt with oversized pockets.

Gigi Hadid hit the runway in an all-denim look. (AFP)

Hadid walked the runway amid less than perfect weather as VIP guests, including US singer Olivia Rodrigo, survived torrential downpours only thanks to helpers clutching transparent umbrellas. But the show had to go on. For Matthew M. Williams, a designer who has garnered lukewarm reviews of late, this collection was a little like crunch time, The Associated Press reported.

For spring, the US designer moved his street aesthetic in a dressier direction — likely trying to bring himself to the safer ground of the age-old house’s traditional aesthetic.

An oversized tweed black bolero cut a creatively surreal silhouette atop a pencil-thin mini dress, twinned with Matrix-style shades. Elsewhere, features such as rouching on a silken top, or draping on a fluid skirt, resembled thick organic sinews or human ribs.

This felt like a positive, gently transgressive, direction for the house immortalized by Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress.

However, many of Williams’ design elements still felt out of place on the Paris runway, such as 90s low-slung cargo shorts that seemed unflattering, clashing with the black silken ruffled cuffs that dangled down.

Earlier at Paris Fashion Week, Hadid hit the runway at the Isabel Marant show, wearing the French label’s Spring-Summer 2023 collection. 

She strutted down the runway in an oversized cameo print jacket in neutral hues and was joined by her sister Bella, who showed off two looks. The first featured a white cut-out top embellished with silver studs, white pants, stilettos and a handbag. The second look was a black flowy mini dress with cut-out detailing across the chest.

The sisters also walked the catwalk for Italian brand Versace at Milan Fashion Week.

Donatella Versace’s collection conveyed female power in a way that only the label can.

“I have always loved a rebel,’’ Versace said in show notes. “A woman who is confidence, smart and a little bit of a diva (sic).”

The show conveyed a strong sense of female ritual as models traversed a runway lit by dark candles and lined with stained-glass windows with the Versace medusa head, before exiting through glass-enclosed spaces where bathrobe-clad men lounged on gilded chairs amid purple columns, underlining a shift in the power dynamic.


Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards
Updated 03 October 2022

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

CAIRO: Despite playing host to two of the Arab world’s most prestigious film festivals, as well as being famous for its storied film industry, Egypt has decided not to submit any titles for the Best International Feature Film category at the upcoming Academy Awards, with industry insiders telling Arab News the decision was a difficult one.

The members of the film selection committee, which falls under the Cinema Professionals Syndicate, decided to opt out of the running for the Oscars, which will be held on March 12, 2023. However, some critics did voice their support for a clutch of films.

Art critic Faiza Hindawi, a member of the committee, told Arab News that one film which generated huge buzz was Nadine Khan’s “Abu Saddam.” However, the film failed to make the cut due to strict regulations about its release date.

“‘Abu Saddam’ was not on the list of the four films closest to nomination due to its non-compliance with the conditions and regulations stipulated in the awards, including the date of the screening. One of the conditions is that the film was shown in the year 2022 and, unfortunately, ‘Abu Saddam’ was shown last year,” Hindawi explained.

“We are bound by conditions that must be met in the works that are nominated, procedural conditions (as well as) technical conditions, meaning that the films that meet the procedural conditions are presented to us to choose from, and the list did not contain ‘Abu Saddam,’” she added.

A few of the titles floated for consideration this year included “Kira Waljen” directed by Marwan Hamed; “Qamar 14” directed by Hadi El-Bagoury; “The Crime” directed by Sherif Arafa; and “2 Talaat Harb” directed by Magdy Ahmed Ali.

Egyptian producer, scriptwriter and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Mohamed Hefzy added that despite a bevy of commendable films released in 2022, none were nominated due to the high standard of films that will compete from around the world.

Mohamed Hefzy shared his thoughts on the lack of an Egyptian submission this year. (AFP)

“The committee that made the decision included more than 30 filmmakers, and it is clear that the films presented to them did not live up to their expectations to be nominated for the Oscars,” he told Arab News.

“As a person who is a member of the Academy, and those who vote for the best international film, I can say that the level of the 90 films that compete every year for Oscars from all over the world are well-made films, so the competition is very tough, and in my opinion when there aren’t any Oscar-worthy movies worth nominating it’s better to not nominate any,” he added.

Previous films submitted for Oscars consideration by Egypt include “Soad” (2019), “Youm El Din” (2018) and “Sheikh Jackson” (2017), among others.

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi
Updated 03 October 2022

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Just when you thought Abu Dhabi’s event calendar couldn’t get any busier, events organizer Live Nation has announced a new music festival headed to the UAE capital. Amplified Music Festival will take place on Yas Links from Nov. 11-13. Coming to the UAE for the first time, the three-day-long event will see international headliners OneRepublic, Ministry of Sound and CAS perform.

Performing on Nov. 11 will be American pop rock band OneRepublic, most famous for their smash single “Apologize.” The band recently released a new single, “I Ain’t Worried,” featured in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

On Nov. 12, festival-goers can witness the 15-piece Ministry of Sound Funk & Soul band presenting their celebrated live show, “Ministry of Sound Disco.”

On Nov. 13, alternative pop phenomenon CAS, who sold out two shows on their previous visit to the UAE earlier this year, will take to the stage as headliners.