The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

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Happy Birthday, Khaled Abo El Naga!

Khaled Abo El Naga
Happy Birthday, Khaled Abo El Naga!
    written by
    Salma Sabek

    Today is the outspoken and talented Khaled Abo El Naga’s birthday, and what a better way to celebrate him than to fangirl about our favourite movies from this diverse and fascinating actor!

    Microphone (2010)

    Khaled takes a trip from to the U.S. back to his hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. He is strangely fixated on a mural in front of his small Alexandrian apartment, through which he discovers an underground art scene that restores his faith in his society and culture.

    This cult classic is the first entry on this list, not just because it’s one of our favourite Khaled Abo El Naga movies, but because we wholeheartedly believe in the immense impact it had on the art scene and the general public’s perceptions. The movie breathes life back into our hope for the future, represented perfectly by the lonely and broken Khaled, and reminds us that as long as there is art, there is hope, and that youth will always find a way.

    The different backgrounds and generations are represented with diversity and accuracy that baffles us 11 years after the movie’s release, with love and rebellion pumped into every moment of this film as it mixes in with the noises of the city and some amazing music. Directed to perfection by Ahmed Abdallah, Khaled Abo El Naga acts out all our frustrations with a ferocity and subtlety that reminds us of what it is to be human. This film was a breath of fresh air that pushed the indie-film industry in Egypt forward. We even believe that it brought the powerhouse that is Massar Egbari from the underground into the mainstream, which we will always be grateful for.

    Decor (2014)

    Maha is a set designer who loses herself in her newest creation’s world. As she struggles to distinguish between reality and fiction, Maha has to face her choices in life as well as her trauma.

    One of our favourite things about Khaled Abo El Naga is that we always find him partnered with great talent, making art that has a purpose beyond face value. Decor was written by the exceptionally talented Sherine Diab to highlight a uniquely feminine, but ultimately human, experience subtly and creatively. Every emotion is delivered with heartbreaking accuracy by the hands of Ahmed Abdallah and the entire cast. Yes, this is another Ahmed Abdallah/Khaled Abo El Naga collaboration, and we will also confidently recommend their third collaborative work, Heliopolis (2009), because this is an artistic match made in heaven. There are a million reasons behind this movie’s greatness, and Khaled Abo El Naga’s performance as Sherif, Maha’s supportive husband and partner, is definitely one of them. As we watch the story unfold, the small details of this character make themselves known through Khaled Abo El Naga’s expressions and body language, his affection, the struggle to understand and support, and especially in his frustrations. You’ll be happy to find out that this masterclass in human emotion is available on Netflix, and we highly recommend you take advantage of that.

    Laebet el Hob (2006)

    Essam and Laila are two vastly different young adults who find themselves pushed towards one another by faith, against their respective wishes, at very crucial points in their lives. Yet, despite horrible first impressions and their contradictory views on life, a tentative friendship emerges that gradually turns into more.

    We bet you forgot all about this movie. That’s to be expected, though, as the film was marketed as another pointless rom-com and ultimately got lost in the early 2000s. In reality, this is one of the most authentic and unique love stories to ever grace the Egyptian silver screen. The movie bravely represents a diverse selection of personalities living within the confines of Cairo, with both alternative and traditional lifestyles, all looking for someone to make them feel less alone and more confident in life. The film is an extremely progressive and feminist take on modern love affairs that is brought to life through the amazing scriptwriting as well as Khaled Abo El Naga’s and Hend Sabry’s dramatic and airy portrayals. Putting aside the fact that the movie is an interesting and entertaining watch, we love how we always find Khaled Abo El Naga playing roles that promote feminism in a fresh and direct way which we can clearly see in his other, even more iconic, roles like Malek w Ketaba (2006) and Downtown Girls (2005).