Jihad Jay Abdo, Cluj Engineer  

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@JihadAbdo is an L.A.-based actor with more than 43 films, tons of TV series and lots of plays in four languages. One of those languages is Romanian.

Jihad-Jay-AbdoWhile making mah breakfast, I let the radio (a real one, not a streamer) play CBC. It was an interview on Q with an actor bigger in the Middle East than Nicole Kidman, apparently. He stars in Queen of the Desert, a movie about Gertrude Bell, opposite Kidman and Franco, under Werner Herzog (I’m sure I had a talk with Tlon/Murdoc somewhere on this blog on Klaus Kinski, but can’t find it  - or was it an email?).

Back in the 50s, he got a scholarship to study Engineering in Cluj. Though he had just learned Romanian, he appeared in a theatre play and got some positive reviews. He then abandoned his Engineering studies and went to the Damascus (the Hollywood of Arab world) where he studied film and acting, then built a career as a very successful actor (40+ movies and 1000+ TV episodes, mostly in a leading role).

I can only speculate how frustrated his Engineering profs were: “but there is art in engineering as well”! : – )

He refused to support the Assad regime and had no choice but to leave the country, which he did, reuniting with his wife and eventually moving to Los Angeles, where he rebuilt his career. According to Herzog, while filming Queen of the Desert in Morocco, everybody wanted a photo with Abdo and not so much with Kidman. Marilyn Monroe described a similar experience when going out with her baseball superstar husband.

Though Abdo’s story and how he was discovered is interesting in its own right, this being a blog dedicated to Romanian issues, I cannot overlook the topic of Cluj and all the foreign students still coming to Romania.

Cluj is for me a magical Romanian city, a frontier I have yet to fully explore, despite having seen most of what is worth seeing, mostly because I grew up in Bucharest, have relatives in Brasov and Iasi and my grandparents had a “dacha / cottage” in Sucevita. The city’s main selling point is the Cluj woman, (possibly cultivated by the opening, back in the sexually liberating year of ‘69, of a restaurant for women only), but it also has a vibrant cultural and cafe life – I’ve already mentioned Nicholas Cage’s visit and the theatre in Bocholera as well as Monodrama. And there’s way, way more – from the Steampunk pub, to the best air quality in Europe, a night club in the top 100 in Europe, a heaven for American expats, but also, unfortunately, the city where Sergiu Todea was harassed by his boss, the government, for doing his job with integrity, the site of the infamous antisemitic Christmas Carols, and a place where Roma people (Gypsies) were forcibly relocated to a chemical waste dump.

Yet perhaps the most interesting part of this story is the incredible attraction the University of Cluj still holds not only for Romanians, but also for foreign students. Andrei Anghel, the Romanian-Canadian who died in the Ukrainian tragedy, was a student there and met his German girlfriend there as well. More on this (foreign student appeal) in a future article.

Talking about expats, in his 25 reasons why I love living in Romania, one writes “This is the Middle East, dreaming that it is France.” For now, it seems that the University of Cluj will keep this status of a Mecca for Arab students who are looking for cheap.. degrees well into the future, despite the scandals with University profs mafia or Anamaria Prodan.

Sources / More info: cbc-q, wiki, imdb, fb, guard-abdo, wsj-abdo, bevhills-abdo,

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Tuesday, July 22, 2014 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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