Who was Karima Mokhtar, the Egyptian actress celebrated in a Google Doodle today?

It would have been her 89th birthday on January 16

The Google Doodle on January 16, 2023, paid homage to Egyptian actress Karima Mokhtar. Illustration: Google
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Egyptian actress Karima Mokhtar is the subject of Monday's Google Doodle, visible across the Mena region.

The illustration, a painting of her with a television screen in the background, celebrates what would have been her 89th birthday.

Known as the “Mother of Egyptian Cinema”, Mokhtar often depicted maternal characters in her work, which spanned film, television and theatrical plays.

Who was Karima Mokhtar?

Mokhtar was born Ateiat Mohamed El Badry on January 16, 1934, in Sahel Selim, Egypt. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in theatre before pursuing her career on the silver screen.

Her career took off when she began presenting on Baba Sharou, a children's radio programme.

She stayed in radio for a while because her parents disapproved of film acting, but that changed with her marriage to actor and director Noor Al Demerdash, who supported her in her acting ambitions and helped her land her first breakthrough role.

Egyptian Wael Nour, left, and Karima Mokhtar posing for photographers during the opening ceremony of the 15th Cairo Festival for Arab Media in Egypt on November 11, 2009. EPA

Her first film role was in Thaman El Horeya (The Price of Freedom), but it was in Al Hafeed (The Grandson), in which she was a mother of seven children, that her reputation for playing maternal characters began.

She has close to 40 acting credits to her name on IMDb, the last of which were in 2014, but El Cinema, the Arab media database, has her listed with more than 200 credits, including stints on radio shows.

These also include films such as Amira Hobi Ana (Amira My Love) and Al Shaytan Ya'ez (The Devil Preaches), as well as TV series, including Yetraba Fi Ezo (May He Grow Up Prosperous), and — her first love — plays, such as El Eyal Kebret (The Kids Have Grown Up).

In 2007, Mokhtar won Best Actress at the Cairo Arab Media Festival.

'A legacy of strong and sympathetic performances'

Mokhtar died in January 2017, days before her 83rd birthday, after an undisclosed illness.

Among the hundreds who attended her funeral in Cairo were Helmi Namnam, Egypt’s culture minister at the time, and several prominent Egyptian TV personalities, including presenter Mahmoud Saad, actor Rashwan Tawfeeq and Poussy, widow of the late actor Noor El Sherif.

Mokhtar reportedly spoke with Ashraf Zaki, the head of Egypt’s Actors’ Syndicate, in her final days, saying she had conveyed the message she was destined to fulfil.

“Leaving behind a legacy of strong and sympathetic performances, Karima helped revolutionise the Egyptian film industry and paved the way for future generations of actresses,” reads Google's doodle description.

Google pays homage to the Mena region

The search engine often pays tribute to famous figures across the Mena region.

Already this month, Google paid homage to Egyptian writer Ihsan Abdel Quddous, one year after the first English translation of his popular novel I Do Not Sleep was released.

In December, it was the turn of Kuwaiti actor, singer, playwright and comedian Abdulhussain Abdulredha on what would have been his 83rd birthday.

For the UAE's 51st National Day, Google ran an animated doodle of the UAE's flag fluttering in the wind, visible on homepages across the nation.

Once users clicked on the animation, fireworks shot across the web page in green, white and black, the colours of the UAE flag, which Google explained “represent courage, prosperity, peace and strength of mind”.

A few days earlier, Emirati poet Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, or Ousha the Poet, was honoured with a dedicated doodle.

One of the greatest Nabati poets of the 20th century, Al Suwaidi was recognised on November 28 in 2011 for her contributions to literature.

Scroll through the gallery below to see other regional Google Doodles over the past few years

Updated: January 16, 2023, 3:55 AM