'Long live Egypt': 'Aladdin' star Mena Massoud’s message for Egyptians

The actor says he's proud to be a Hollywood star from the Arab world

Mena Massoud is Aladdin in Disney’s live-action ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.
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Mena Massoud is on the road to Hollywood stardom and he wants fans in his native Egypt to join him for the carpet ride.

The actor, who will soon appear in the anticipated live action reboot of Aladdin alongside Will Smith, posted a video dedicated to fellow Egyptians to encourage them to see the film when it premieres in regional cinemas on March 23.

In the slickly produced 30-second video Massoud expresses his pride in being part of the film. "O Egyptian people, greetings," he began. "I am extremely excited for you to see the film Aladdin that is produced by Disney. I am proud to be part of this film and I hope you love it as much as I do and you enjoy it as I much as I did filming it."

Massoud then goes on to conclude his message by declaring ‘Long live Egypt” three times.

The 27-year-old actor, who was born in Cairo before immigrating to Canada as a child, is presently on a global tour promoting Aladdin, which included a stopover in Amman, Jordan on May 13 for the regional premiere.

Speaking to The National before the gala screening in Amman, which was attended by fellow stars Will Smith and Naomi Scott (who play The Genie and Princess Jasmine respectively), Massoud expressed his satisfaction that the role of Aladdin was played by an actor from the region.

“It's one of the things that I'm most proud of this film,” he said. “Not just me, but everybody in the film is diverse and every single person is a person of colour and I think that's incredibly important.”

Proud of his heritage

Massoud is like fellow Egyptian and Oscar winner Rami Malek in that he clearly expresses pride in his Arab roots.

In a recent interview with People magazine, he praised the Bohemian Rhapsody star for blazing a path for Arab actors in Hollywood.

"I think things are changing with Rami Malek winning an Oscar for doing an incredible job as Freddie Mercury. There are a lot of Middle Eastern actors coming up.

"I think (Aladdin) is important for representation. Hopefully, if it does well in cinema, Hollywood can have confidence in the fact that you can put a Middle Eastern in a lead role or in an iconic role and it will still do well."

Meanwhile, at the press conference in Jordan, Massoud opened his address in Arabic by wishing all those fasting a blessed month during Ramadan. ""Inshallah, may God bring more happy days to the Arab and Muslim communities and Ramadan Kareem."

He went on to describe how deeply moved he was to also shoot the film in Jordan's majestic Wadi Rum, 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.”

What can we say about Aladdin?

The National did manage to see the film in Jordan as part of a special press screening. While we cannot discuss the film's plot in detail due to embargo reasons, we are happy to report that the Guy Ritchie film is a guaranteed crowd pleaser and should be enjoyed all age groups.

The film brings the fictional city of Agrabah to life and follows the relationship between street urchin Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. In addition to the main trio of stars Massoud, Smith and Scott, the film's cast includes Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen.

For more on the film, check out The National's Arts and Culture section soon for interviews with stars Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and director Guy Ritchie.


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