Omar Sharif (Alexandria, 10 April 1932)
International film celebrity Omar Sharif, was born Michael Shalhoub in Alexandria. Before acting, he studied mathematics and physics. But life changed when Youssef Chahine cast him as the lead in 'The Blazing Sun' (1954) opposite established star and soon-to-be wife, Faten Hamama. It wasn't long before his good looks, sophisticated manner and proficiency in English were noticed by Hollywood, where Sharif was an overnight success. His role as Sheikh Ali in David Lean's 1962 epic 'Lawrence of Arabia' won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. But Lean's 'Doctor Zhivago' was Sharif's most charismatic title role. In 2003, he earned international acclaim for his portrayal of a Muslim grocer who adopts a Jewish boy in ' Mr Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Quran '. Both the America Film Institute and the Venice Film Festival have awarded him for lifetime achievement. Omar Sharif lives in Cairo, surrounded by an adoring public.
Ahmed Zuweil (El Beheyrah, 26 February 1946)
Dr. Ahmed Zuweil was educated in Alexandria and continued his studies in America. He teaches chemistry and physics at the California Institute of Technology and holds honorary degrees in the sciences, arts, philosophy, law and medicine. Dr. Zuweil's work in defining the new field of femtochemistry earned him a Nobel Prize in 1999. He found a way, using flashes of laser light, to watch the split-second interactions between molecules, to see how they behave before, during and after chemical reactions. His femtosecond laser has been compared to Gali leo 's telescope, which revealed the stars as they'd never been seen before. Dr. Zuweil's autobiography, Voyage Through Time, was published in 2004, with the hope that it would inspire a new generation of young Arab scientists.
Naguib Mahfouz (Cairo, 11 December 1911)
In his novels and short stories, Naguib Mahfouz chronicled twentieth century Egyptian life. His realism and insight earned him a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1989. He began writing at 17 and published his first novel ten years later. Mahfouz worked as a civil servant, a job that supported his writing, and influenced his perceptions of society. His neighborhood in Old Cairo (called the 'palace walk'), dates to the city's Fatimid founders. A place where the past mingles with a vibrant and sometimes conflicted modernity, it served as a setting for Mahfouz's award-winning Cairo Triology. Naguib Mahfouz is the author of thirty novels and over a hundred short stories, many of them set in Ancient Egypt. Half of his novels have been made into films and his books have been translated into over a dozen languages.
Youssef Chahine (Alexandria, 25 January 1926)
Alexandria-born Youssef Chahine is the best-known director in the history of Egyptian cinema - and it's a long history, since Egypt was one of the first countries, after France, to produce motion pictures. Author of over forty films, Chahine's early work rivaled the Italian neo-realists' for its superb photography, storytelling and characters. Throughout his career, Chahine explored many genres, but his films illustrating social inequities and contradictions are the most powerful. In 1997, the outspoken Chahine won a lifetime recognition award at the Cannes Film Festival. His work has been honored at the Berlin and Venice festivals. Chahine is still making films - and stars. He's launched the careers of some of Egypt 's best-loved personalities (including Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama) and several of his assistants have become award winning filmmakers themselves.
Mohamed Al-Baradei (Cairo, 17 June 1942)
Mohamed Al-Baradei is a lawyer and diplomat whose commitment to peace earned a Nobel Prize in 2005. In his capacity as director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) he works to ensure that nuclear energy is used in the safest possible way. Al-Baradei studied law at Cairo University and the University of New York. His diplomatic career began in 1964 in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign affairs. A courageous, determined man, he was willing to pit his agency's resources against those of the American administration to question the justification for the Iraqi war. Mohamed Al- Baradei donated his portion of the Nobel prize to building orphanages in Cairo while the IAEA's winnings were dedicated to removing landmines from developing countries.
Anwar Al-Sadat (Al Minufiyah 1918 - 6 October 1981)
Anwar Al-Sadat was a visionary leader. He led Egypt to victory in the 1973 War, then forged a lasting peace with Israel, something no Arab leader had dared. He went to Israel to speak before parliament, on behalf of peace, and consequently won a Nobel Prize in 1979. Popular in the west, but controversial at home, Al-Sadat launched the 'open door policy' designed to free Egypt 's economy from the constraints of socialism. He opened Egypt to the west and was inspired by American history, especially the western expansion. He thought Egypt should also 'go west' - of the Nile - to create more arable land. The reclamation plans he conceived in the 1970's with the help of his scientific advisor, are currently underway in Egypt 's western desert.