Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

‘Ahlan wa sahlan’ says Rami Malek straight after winning his Oscar

The 'Bohemian Rhapsody' actor broke into Arabic backstage when asked about his advice for young talent in the region

Rami Malek poses in the press room with his Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards. AFP
Rami Malek poses in the press room with his Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards. AFP

On Sunday night, he made history as he collected his first-ever Oscar, becoming the first star of Arab heritage to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

And it was that heritage that Rami Malek paid tribute to backstage in a press conference, with his golden statue clasped in his hands.

The 37-year-old star, who portrayed Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in his winning role in Bohemian Rhapsody, spoke a few words in his parents' native Arabic, when asked for his advice to those hoping to follow in his footsteps.

“I read that you grew up loving Umm Kulthum and Omar Sharif, and there’s plenty of Arab young talent growing up now loving Rami Malek," said one reporter to the actor. "If it’s not too much to ask, what would you say to these guys or ladies, in Arabic if possible?”

The Mr Robot actor responded by saying "ahlan wa sahlan", Arabic for welcome, before uttering, "forsa saeeda we menawar", which translates to how lovely to meet you. "Menawar bekom kulkum," he added, which translates as "I'm delighted with your presence".

Malek went on to reveal that while his sister was born in Egypt, he felt his formative years feeling like he didn't belong.

“When I grew up as a kid, part of me felt like I needed to shed some of that. I didn’t feel like I fit in, I definitely felt like the outsider,” he added. “As I got older I realised just how beautiful my heritage and my tradition is; the wealth of culture, magic, music, film, and just pure art that comes out of the Middle East."

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Todd Williamson/JanuaryImages/REX/Shutterstock (10118842bn) Nelly Malek, Jasmine Malek, Rami Malek and Sami Malek 91st Annual Academy Awards, Fox After Party, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Feb 2019
Rami Malek with his mother and siblings after his Oscars win. Reuters

The actor was born in Los Angeles to Egyptian parents, who left Cairo for the United States in the 1970s. Malek paid tribute to his parents during his acceptance speech, telling a rapt audience "my family, thank you for all of this". "My dad didn't get to see me do any of this, but I think he's looking down on me right now so this is a monumental moment," added the star.

Malek also compared his journey to that of Mercury, who was born in Tanzania before moving to the United Kingdom in his late teens.

"We made a film about an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself," Malek said as he collected his award. "I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I am a first-generation American, and my story is being written right now. I cannot be more grateful to each and every one of you."

Updated: February 26, 2019 10:32 AM

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