'Aladdin' star Mena Massoud praises UAE founder Sheikh Zayed's vision

The Egyptian-Canadian actor says the UAE is one of the region's 'beautiful stories'

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Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud has praised the vision of Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father .

The 27-year-old, who can be seen in UAE cinemas as the titular role in the live-action musical remake of Aladdin, told The National that he hopes to visit the country in the near future. He stated that the country's dynamic growth is ripe to be told on the big screen.

“I haven't been, but the UAE I hear is incredibly beautiful and tremendous and I hope to visit,” he said. “There's some beautiful stories that come out of there, certainly ones that I've been looking at with the royal family there and Sheikh Zayed and what he was able to do with the UAE. So there's a lot of incredible stories to be told.”

Massoud also stated his pride that the new version of Aladdin retained its regional roots, with parts of the film shot in Jordan's Wadi Rum.

Massoud recalled the experience as a career highlight and praised the Jordanian people and technical support crew.

“The people are so incredibly generous and kind,” he said. “Being out in the desert was just amazing. I mean, there is such a peace out in the middle of the desert. There is nothing like it.”

Massoud hopes Aladdin’s success will inspire Hollywood to look for more stories from the Arab world.

"It has been a while since we've told stories like Lawrence of Arabia and cast them and told them appropriately. So I hope people look at Aladdin and realise that there's a plethora of rich stories that come out of the Middle East," he said.

“That is certainly something that I'm going to be focusing on in my career with my production company. I think that (things) are going to change.”

Aladdin is now screening in cinemas across the UAE