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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Who is Hind Rostom? Egyptian movie star honoured in today's Google Doodle  

The First Lady of Egyptian Cinema starred in more than 80 films

Throughout her career, Hind Rostom played outspoken, strong female characters - defying gender norms. 
Throughout her career, Hind Rostom played outspoken, strong female characters - defying gender norms. 

Today's Google Doodle across the MENA region is an illustration of Hind Rostom in her glamorous finger waves-hairdo heyday. The homage is in honour of her birthday: she was born on this day in 1929 in Alexandria, and died in Giza in August 2011.

Often called 'The First Lady of Egyptian Cinema', Rostom starred in more than 80 films - her first major role was in Hassan Al-Imam's Banat el Lail. She retired in 1979 while still at the peak of her career - no project managed to coax her back into the spotlight.

Today would have been Hind Rostom's 87th birthday. 
Today would have been Hind Rostom's 87th birthday.

Her most famous turn was probably that of a lemonade vendor in Youssef Chahine's 1958 Cairo Station: her homage to those on the margins of society placed her firmly in the hearts of the Egyptian people, with her face a meme of sorts across street art and posters during the Arab Spring.

Read more: Why Middle Eastern doodles deserve to be masters of the Googleverse

With her striking facial features and trademark blonde locks, fans flocked to copy Hind Rostom's latest look. She was dubbed Egypt's Bardot or Monroe, but it wasn't just her looks that helped her rise to prominence: she broke the stereotype of meek female leading ladies that had previously prevailed in Egyptian cinema.

According to Joseph Fahim, an Egyptian film critic, "she might have been an accidental feminist. She is my favourite Arab actress of all time. I love what she represented." Despite being tagged as the Arab Monroe, Rostom was a screen siren who did not resort to nudity, nor did she indulge in any affairs. "She was respectable," he says.

She turned down an offer of more than one million Egyptian pounds (Dh600,000) in 2002 for her life story to be turned into a drama series. "My life is not for sale," she famously said.

An Egyptian movie star from the 1950s, Hind Rostom, was nicknamed the Egyptian Brigitte Bardot. AFP
An Egyptian movie star from the 1950s, Hind Rostom, was nicknamed the Egyptian Brigitte Bardot. AFP