Sexy, Smart, and Serious: How Amal Alamuddin May Have Charmed George Clooney
I can’t get Amal Alamuddin out of my head. I know by now it’s virtually old news that she and acclaimed Hollywood personality George Clooney are engaged and planning a wedding for September. But still, their story has held me captive, and I can’t but reflect and try to piece together their brief six-month courtship. I suppose it may be natural for me to do so, because I share a bit of common ground with Amal. (Hear me out before you dismiss me as being immodest!)
We are both Lebanese who spent our formative years abroad, I in the US (and a year in France), she in the UK (and at least five years in the US for grad school and early career). Amal was a star student, attending Oxford University’s St. Hugh’s College for a bachelor’s degree before matriculating to NYU Law School. At both institutes she was showered with accolades, and she even interned as a law clerk at the prestigious offices of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I, too, was a scholar, a magnet for all things academia and knowledge. With my focus solely and unwaveringly on excellence, I graduated with top honors from top schools at BS, MS, and MBA levels. Therefore, like Amal, I know the value of hard work.
Where we diverge is that Amal returned home to London after finishing her studies and a three-year law stint. I shipped out to Lebanon to realize a childhood dream of settling in my country of heritage. And thus, over this difference, my investigative spirit kicks in.
How “Lebanese” was Amal’s upbringing? Did her parents rear her and her sister Tala in the culture, rituals, and ways of the Lebanese? Did she visit relatives in Lebanon on a regular basis, perhaps in the summertime as my family did? Did she speak Arabic at home regularly? The media (and her lawyer profile page) claims she’s fluent in Arabic (and French), but is she conversational or does she speak broken Arabic? How religiously involved is Amal—does she observe Druze conventions? And just how “conservative” is her family? Does she have her own bachelorette pad in London, or is she residing with her parents, assuming they live within reasonable distance from the law firm where she works?
I did a bit of sleuthing and discovered that sister Tala is married to a fellow Lebanese by the name of Nagi Hamiyeh and is happily settled in Singapore with their two young daughters. Tala is an independent events social professional who graduated from Richmond American International University in London in 1995. Husband Nagi is a senior executive at one of the largest holding companies in Singapore. By deduction, Tala is a few years older than sister Amal.
We know that the girls’ parents laid quite a lot of emphasis, as certainly most Lebanese parents do, on education. In fact, their father Ramzi Alamuddin is a retired business professor at AUB, while mother Bariaa Miknass is a veteran journalist who is currently a correspondent and editor at Al-Hayat newspaper. The girls’ grandmother was purportedly the first female to graduate from AUB, and their uncle Akram Miknass is the CEO of a leading Lebanese advertising agency.
There is no doubt as to how accomplished Amal is professionally, and I won’t dwell on her CV, as it can be easily fetched online. What intrigues me is her character. At 36, she is sexy, confident and driven, but is she in fact a “modern” Westerner who has sloughed the comparatively archaic values of Lebanese society? More directly, did she have premarital relations—a taboo by Arab standards—with the charming Mr. Clooney? Before you accuse me of being stiff and anachronistic, let’s do some playback.
I did read that Amal, who met Clooney at a charity event, refused to take his number and made him wait a few days before responding to his recourse, an email. Surely she felt what any grounded woman not blinded by celebrity status would have felt: did she really just want to be his next plaything? Another proverbial notch on his bedpost? The rebound girl after his famous split with Stacy Keibler? Clooney had a rich history of dating gorgeous bombshells, and he’d been rather vocal about his eternal bachelor status. If Amal was even half as serious about personal stability as she was about her career, then why would she want to get entangled with a man, no matter how wealthy and renowned, who could promise her neither domestic bliss nor permanent commitment?
The way I see it, Amal resisted Clooney’s advances and remained level-headed until she secured his unquestionable sincerity. She introduced him early on to her family and her values, and he reciprocated. She undoubtedly laid it out for him and gave him the choice. He fell in love with her and couldn’t wait to be with her. And she didn’t sell herself short. Perhaps that’s how Amal landed an engagement ring after just six months of dating. Amal’s likely chastity may have also driven Clooney to want to tie the knot as soon as possible, because why wed so soon when you’re getting all the benefits of married life sans the vows? In this age of “taking it slowly,” a marriage within a year of the iconic first date is unheard of.
So in the end, our dear Mr. Clooney proved to be the gentleman the world has long touted him to be. And Amal, for her part, held our heads up high, because she wouldn’t allow name or fame to seduce her so easily. She kept her bearings about her, clung fiercely to her values, and reeled in one of Hollywood’s most alluring and elusive catches. Ultimately, Amal showed the world that smart, sexy and serious Lebanese girls got game.