Emirati actor is much-loved star of the small screen

Abdullah Al Shehhi has appeared in 45 plays, 3 local films, 27 children’s plays and 25 TV series broadcast in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Egypt.

Abdullah Al Shehhi is a popular Emirati drama artist but he is better known as Abo Abed - to anyone who has seen him on TV. Antonie Robertson /The National
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SHARJAH // Abdullah Rashid Al Shehhi’s face is regularly beamed into homes across the Middle East, although most people will know him by his alter ego, Abo Abed.

The much-loved Emirati actor has appeared in 45 plays, three local films, 27 children’s plays and 25 TV series broadcast in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Egypt. As a result he is one of the most recognised people in the UAE and is regularly stopped on the street by fans young and old.

“I am the first Emirati to feature in Saudi plays. I don’t remember their names well, you know I can’t remember all the plays I have been featured in,” said Al Shehhi, who retired from his job as a police major in 2008 to concentrate on acting full-time.

His love of the stage first came to light in 1978 while he was at school. News of his talent quickly spread and the roles, and awards, quickly came his way.

“Every year, there are multiples of awards – some in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai or other emirates and even in the neighbouring GCC countries,” said Al Shehhi, who appeared in the popular Omani TV drama Nadhra Al Ain, which aired during Ramadan last year. He shared the screen with Kuwati actor Abdul Aziz Al Mussalam in the local drama Majanin, as well as the popular Kuwait series Tijji Al Sufu.

He is best known for his appearance in the Egyptian drama Al Zaeem alongside the Egyptian actor Adel Imam, which aired across Arabic-language stations in 2009, and for acting alongside Lebanese pop singer Heifa Wehbe in 2006’s Al Wadi.

Despite his achievements around the region, Al Shehhi has his eye on success on a grander scale and is hoping to break into Bollywood.

“Bollywood is a very big market in the region and one to which I think I can make a good contribution,” he said.

When not treading the boards or working in front of the camera, Al Shehhi is helping to mould the next generation of Emirati actors. He is involved in training youngsters who want to be dramatic actors, at schools across the Emirates.

“The young people have to be told that in today’s world everything needs proper training. Even for those with good talent, they should still undergo proper training to shine,” he said.

Al Shehhi also presents a show on Ajman Radio called Yawmiyat Abo Abed in which he highlights the daily problems of local families and expatriates living in the Northern Emirates.

In his youth, Al Shehhi was a rising football star and played for the UAE national team as well as turning out for Al Shaab FC in Sharjah. After hanging up his boots he worked in several roles promoting the club.

A father of three, a boy and two girls, Al Shehhi is proud that his children hope to follow in their father’s footsteps. His son is showing good promise as a footballer, while his youngest daughter, aged 16, has dreams of becoming a movie star.

Despite his success, he remains humble and thanks those who have supported him over the years, particularly Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah.

“If Sheikh Sultan saw any son of this country with talent, he does not send anyone but himself. He interacts and helps him achieve his dreams,” he said. “Sharjah is shining in all cultural aspects, it has been named the Arab Cultural Capital and now the Islamic Capital because of this direct engagement of the ruler with the key cultural players here.”