Nadine Nassib Njeim to leave 'unsafe' Lebanon: 5 things to know about the star

The actress says she no longer wants to live in a country 'ruled by bullies and death'

Lebanese actress and 2004 Miss Lebanon winner Nadine Nassib Njeim is recovering from injuries suffered during the blast in Beirut on August 4 that ripped through her high-rise apartment.

On August 9, Njeim said she planned to leave Lebanon, deeming the country unsafe.

"In this moment in the hospital I have made a decision," she wrote on social media. "I will leave the country and live in safety in another country that respects its people. This is better than staying in a country ruled by bullies and death."

Friends and fans rallied around the celebrity after she was injured, as did her industry colleagues. The reaction underscores Njeim's influential role in the industry, after she built a career as an actress whose TV roles challenge assumptions within Lebanese society.

Here are five things you need to you know about Njeim ...

1. She was a beauty queen

That’s how she got into the industry.

Born in Beirut to a Lebanese father and Tunisian mother, Njeim, 36, had dreams of winning a beauty pageant and becoming a dentist or surgeon. She viewed both paths as platforms on which she could make a difference in Lebanese society.

However, after winning the Miss Lebanon competition in 2004, Njeim admitted the lure of show business was too hard to resist. "I felt the thirst to keep going, to stay in the spotlight," she told Harper's Bazaar Arabia last year. "I did not want to go back home and quit this light."

2. She chooses powerful TV roles

Considering her phenomenal television hit rate, Njeim chooses her roles well. From her debut in 2009 series Rijal Al Hasem, Njeim built a career as an actress to be reckoned with. The roles she found were often of powerful Lebanese women challenging norms.

In 2019, she starred in the critically acclaimed Ramadan drama Khamsa w Nos, in which she plays a no-nonsense doctor caught in a web of political intrigue.

International audiences can glimpse her talent in the 2017 debut season of drama Al Hayba, now available to stream on Netflix. She delivers a career-best performance as a defiant mother escaping the clutches of a crime family.

With the first season a ratings hit, Njeim quit the series in 2018 after criticising the male-dominated plot of the follow-up season.

3. She took part in Lebanon’s nationwide protests last October

Njeim was one of many celebrities who took to the streets last year to protest against corruption in her homeland and the dire economic consequences. This is a subject she also dealt with in Khamsa w Nos, which looked at the underhanded dealings that Njeim says are a reality of Lebanese politics.

"The topics we tackle exist in our country," she told GQ Middle East in March. "Regretfully, topics like the garbage crises, pollution, corruption in medication, politics, how things get done under the table … sadly, this is the reality, we can't lie to people."

4. Her views on family upset progressive fans

Njeim was the subject of controversy in 2012 after she expressed traditional views on marriage and family in an interview on Lebanese TV.

Some of her progressive fans felt betrayed, especially in light of the daring roles Njeim plays on screen. She doubled down on those comments in a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar Arabia. "Equity is about everyone getting his exact needs, regardless of everybody else," she said. "The blind claim of equality is unhealthy. Women should aspire to equity."

5. She is thinking of quitting show business

Recent interviews with Njeim are often peppered with thoughts of retirement. This is down to her being a mother of two, the role she says gives her the most satisfaction.

Njeim referred to this in an interview with the Dubai Cruise Show last year.

“I have reached an age now where my children need me,” she said. “They are true happiness for me and far away from the ​​absurdity that we hear in the world.”

Njeim described her survival after the Beirut explosion as a "second chance" and she may pull the plug on her career sooner than expected. And who could blame her?

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