Egypt mogul takes it to Al Qaeda

$7 million pic will chart rise of Bin Laden, Zawahiri

Egyptian media mogul Imad Adeeb keeps breaking his own records.

In Berlin to promote Panaroma pic “The Yacoubian Building” — at $4 million the most expensive Arab film to date — Adeeb will nearly double that figure with his latest project — a take on terrorism called “Al Qaeda.”

Budgeted at $7 million, the pic will chart the rise of Osama Bin Laden and Aymen Zawahiri and their transformation into the world’s most wanted terrorists.

“We always heard stories about Bin Laden from the West, but the Arabs and Muslims haven’t written their own point of view yet. Not all of us are Bin Ladens. The first victims of Bin Laden weren’t the West or Christians — it was us Arabs and Muslims,” Adeeb said.

Adeeb & Co. are hoping to entice an international star to play the Bin Laden role. After a two-year period in development process, pic will start lensing in 2007. Financing for Good News’ projects is from private backers, presumably from the Arab world.

Also in the works for Adeeb’s Good News Group, the burgeoning Cairo-based media empire that includes publishing, Internet portal, theaters and film production, is $5 million historical epic “Mohammed Ali.” That pic tells the story of Mohammed Ali Pasha who ruled Egypt in the 19th Century. Lensing on that pic starts later this year.

Shooting has already wrapped on another Good News flick, “Halim,” the biopic of legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafiz. Adeeb is hoping pic will preem in Cannes this summer.

“Yacoubian” is an adaptation of Alaa Aswany’s controversial bestseller tackling hot potato subjects like homosexuality, fundamentalism and corruption. Adeeb said the row over the publication of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which continues to grow, has indirectly helped promote his film.

“I think the controversy has served our film. It created a more pressing necessity that they should try to understand us and we should try to understand them,” he said.

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