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Adel Imam biography

Adel Imam biography

13 July 2004

Adel Imam was born on May 17, 1946. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture from Cairo University and started his professional career as an actor in 1966. Since then, he has performed in over 100 movies and 10 plays, and numerous TV series that are highly appreciated by the Arab public. His supporters and fans come from all generations.

Imam is probably the most famous actor in the Arab world. In the course of his rich career, he has mixed humour with sadness to portray ordinary people who are victims of injustice and poverty. He has been described as a modern-day Arab Charlie Chaplin.

Among his most famous movies are "Terrorism and the Kebab" and "The Terrorist", in which he denounced religious fanaticism, extremists and terrorism. In his play, "Al Zaim", he denounced - with a profound sense of humour - authoritarian governments and dictatorship in the Arab region. In general, his career is known to advocate minorities' rights, side with the poor and needy, and denounce fanaticism and extremism. For all these reasons, Imam became a symbol for people promoting tolerance and human rights in the Arab world.

In January 2000, he was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. Soon after, Imam undertook a field visit to meet with refugees and UNHCR field workers in Yemen (April 2000). He was part of the UNHCR delegation to the UN Secretary-General's two conferences for all Goodwill Ambassadors from the UN System. The meetings were held at the United Nations in New York in October 2000 and June 2002.

In addition, Imam undertook professional journeys as an artist to Jordan (July 2000), Tunisia (September 2000), Iraq (February 2001), Oman (December 2001), Syria (September 2001), Algeria (2002), Kuwait (2003), and the United Arab Emirates (2005). These trips were not organized by UNHCR, but he seized all these opportunities to raise awareness about refugees and to brief the media on UNHCR activities. In his own words, he expressed his solidarity with refugees, speaking to a wide public in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf region.

Over the past five years, Imam has helped UNHCR to increase public awareness and mobilize private sector resources to build support for refugees. He contributed immensely to the successful celebration of UNHCR's 50th anniversary by participating in a special TV show organized by ART satellite channel. He also actively helped launch the "State of the World Refugees" report in 2000.

In 2001, he participated in the commemoration of the first World Refugee Day, working with UNHCR in Cairo. During the same year, Imam filmed a TV spot for UNHCR in collaboration with famous Egyptian director Sherif Arafa and Egyptian composer Omar Khairat. This TV spot continues to be broadcast, not only on Arab satellite channels, but also on CNN.

In 2002, Imam mobilised the support of a top Egyptian business executive to sponsor a gala dinner in commemoration of World Refugee Day as well as in honour of the visit of the then United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, to Egypt. For World Refugee Day 2003, he was in Geneva for a press conference and a UNHCR benefit concert as the guest of honour.

In 2004, Imam co-hosted a gala dinner in commemoration of World Refugee Day which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the UNHCR Cairo office. During the same year, Imam inaugurated the photo exhibition "Scenes from Darfur" by two photographers from the Associated Press and l'Agence France-Presse. In the year 2005, Imam embarked on a new experience in his long standing career: in commemoration of World Refugee Day, he recorded a radio spot for UNHCR. The spot was broadcast in Egypt and many other countries in the Middle East.

Imam is married and has three children, Rami, Sarah and Mohamed as well as three grandchildren, Adel, Omar and Amina.