After almost two decades out of the limelight, Sherihan Shalakani, better known simply as Sherihan, has made her comeback in a Ramadan advertisement for Vodafone Egypt that has all the drama and pomp of a blockbuster musical.
With lithe choreography and a score that ranges from breathless jazz rhythms to contemplative piano melodies, the four-minute advertisement also contains several allusions to the famous ups and downs of the Egyptian actress, singer and dancer's life.
It starts with the multi-talented star looking out from the balcony at the sunset-canopied Nile, humming a tune that is reminiscent of the Rimsky Korsakoff composition used in Alf Leila w Leila, her first Fawazeer Ramadan TV performance.
In fact, Sherihan fans will recognise many of the ad's lyrical contents, as well as its choreographic style, from Fawazeer Ramadan, which she performed from 1985 to 1988 and then again in 1994. Though she was already an established film and stage actress by this time, it was the Ramadan special that made Sherihan a household name across the Arab world.
Yet her life has been wrought with tragedy. The Egyptian star lost her older brother, Omar Khorshid, at a young age. She was in a car accident in 1989, which led to several serious injuries, and had cancer less than a decade later, which ultimately contributed to her decision to pull away from public life in 2002.
But now, Sherihan, 56, in her Vodafone performance, is making it clear that what hasn't killed her has only made her stronger.
The video is even captioned: "No matter what comes our way, our strength is that there is nothing that can stop us."
It all goes to show that the Egyptian star is still every bit as talented today as during her Fawazeer Ramadan days, but that she is also more resilient.
Other star-studded Ramadan ads to come out in 2021
While Vodafone's effort may drive companies across the region to rethink how they advertise products, there are already a handful of impressive offerings that have come out of Egypt this Ramadan.
Here are four of the best other celebrity-starring advertisements released this week.
Egyptian actor Asser Yassin’s advertisement for Unionaire celebrates the 25th anniversary of the air-conditioner and home appliances brand.
The advertisement follows the romance of a young couple as they meet in school, get married and grow old together.
Hussain Al Jassmi
Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi’s song for mobile network operator Orange Egypt shows how special Ramadan celebrations are in the northeast African country.
The music video shows friends breaking their fast on a boat on the Nile and around an iftar table at home. It takes viewers through the souqs of Cairo and depicts a father hanging a lantern in the street with his daughter.
Elsewhere, we see a group prostrating in a mosque during the maghrib prayers and grandparents video-calling their grandchildren, as a sign of the times.
Egyptian superstar Amr Diab’s music video for Badya Palm Hills is a grand property pitch. It begins with a woman waking up in her lavish apartment, stepping out on to her balcony that overlooks the buildings in the area.
She makes her way to the community pool, then to a food truck where she meets her friends. She goes jogging in a park, followed by horseback riding and finally to an outdoor concert area, where Diab is performing.
Yousra, Nelly Karim and others
Perhaps the most star-studded advertisement this Ramadan is the one released by real estate company Zed Egypt.
It features the likes of Al Asifa actress Yousra, Enta Omry actress Nelly Karim, El Zebaq actor Karim Abdel Aziz, Al Daif actress Shereen Reda and 1998 Miss Egypt and TV presenter Karine Fahmy, to name a few.
The ad shows the stars in different Zed properties, inviting each other over to their houses, but they refuse as they're so ensconced in the comforts of their respective abodes.