Shakespeare classic moves to modern-day Egypt

Arab screen icon Omar Sharif is set to tackle William Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” in a feature adaptation that migrates the bard’s classic tragedy to modern-day Egypt.

Project will be the first feature developed and produced by Frederic Sichler’s new shingle, Amana Creative.

Sichler was most recently president of Rotana Studios, the film company of Saudi billionaire Prince Waleed bin Talal. Before that he was CEO of France’s StudioCanal.

Sichler is co-producing “King Lear” with Egypt’s Misr Intl. and its topper Gabriel Khoury. Egyptian state broadcaster Egypt National Broadcast Corp. is also in discussions to board the project.

Egyptian writer Khaled Al Khamissi, whose novel “Taxi” has been translated into 20 languages and is a bestseller across the Arab world, will adapt Shakespeare’s classic tale.

Amana Creative aims to merge the best of Arab and Western film and TV talent, per Sichler.

“Shakespeare is an icon of European culture, Al Khamissi represents the best of a new generation of Arab writers, and Omar Sharif has been a bridge between our two worlds for half a century,” Sichler said.

A director will be announced in the coming weeks, with lensing to begin by the end of the year.

“One of my oldest memories as a child is hearing my grandfather say that Shakespeare was not really English but in fact Arab, and his real name wasn’t Shakespeare but Al-Sheikh Kabeer,” said Al Khamissi, whose latest novel, “Noah’s Arch,” has topped Egypt’s bestseller list for the past four weeks. “Forty years later, I was given the chance to make my grandfather’s dream tangible. I am going to write the story of Al-Sheikh Kabeer, ‘Al-Sheikh’ Lear, the Egyptian Lear.”

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