The Middle East’s ‘Jack Bauer’ Box-Office Hit

The latest spy thriller to hit Egyptian cinema is“Welad El-Am.” Shot in Egypt, Syria and South Africa, the drama action movie is about a Muslim Egyptian mother of two who suddenly learns her husband is a Jewish Israeli Mossad agent. Daniel (Sherif Mounir) gives Salwa (Mona Zaki) two options – to stay or leave to Egypt without the children.

The action begins when a Muslim Egyptian intelligence officer vows to save Salwa and her children from Daniel. Officer Mostapha (Kareem Abdelaziz) could be seen as an Egyptian Jack Bauer –instead of fighting off America’s “terrorists” – he’s seen saving Salwa from what he calls Egypt’s most-wanted. Israelis are seen as the villains in this movie – a different perspective from this part of the world as compared to the current popular Western depiction of Arabs/Muslims as villains.

Director Sherif Arafa’s latest film succeeds not only in showing the complex relationship between Israel and Egypt (here, as defined by Daniel and Mostapha), which can be seen as Abraham’s sons Ismael and Isaac as symbolically referenced in the title, but shows the world the emerging acting and directing talent of Egyptian cinema from that of other international films.

Actors Sherif Mounir and Kareem Abdelaziz attended the first showing at Loews in Jersey City on Sunday afternoon, the day Egypt won the African cup. Right before the packed house entered the theatre, they took photos with their favorite Egyptian actors as cars honked, Egyptian flags flew out of car windows, and men played the tabla on the sidewalk, and fans picked up Abdelaziz on their shoulders cheering for Egypt – the same patriotic nationalistic rejoicing that continued even after the film was done.

Here's the YouTube trailer:

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About Rima Abdelkader

Rima Abdelkader is currently pursuing a Masters degree at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. She previously worked as a print journalist at the United Nations covering the U.N. and international affairs. Prior to working at the U.N., Rima interned for NBC, CNN's Diplomatic License with host Richard Roth and with MediaGlobal at the United Nations. Rima is an active member of the student affairs committee of the New York Women in Communications and a student liaison officer of the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association. She received her B.B.A. in Marketing with a specialization in Management and Political Science at Pace University magna cum laude and gave the commencement address at her graduation. In her last year at Pace, she spent her spring break in the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans assisting with the rebuilding effort and gave a report back on the WB11 Morning News in NY. She can be reached at

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