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Clooney chooses brains and beauty

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amal afp

AFP

Amal Alamuddin, left, is a British barrister of Lebanese origin.

London - The past years have seen a parade of models, waitresses and even a female wrestler. All of them have looked decorative on George Clooney’s arm, and perhaps it would be churlish to observe that higher-level education did not figure prominently on any of their CVs.

However, Clooney, who at 52 is Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, has now apparently fallen in love with someone quite different – Amal Alamuddin .

She is a British barrister of Lebanese origin.

The family home is a comfortable modern property in Gerrard’s Cross, Buckinghamshire, where the neighbours are agog at the starry association.

 

Alamuddin’s mother, Baria, is a former newsreader and journalist who has been described as Lebanon’s answer to Liz Taylor.

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In February, she accompanied Clooney to a White House screening of his latest film, Monuments Men.

AFP

Alamuddin’s family are wealthy and prominent in Lebanon in their own right, with one relative setting up the country’s airline.

Alamuddin and Clooney were first spotted in each other’s company at a dinner last October, having been introduced by a mutual interest in human rights issues.

She is an adviser to former UN secretary- general Kofi Annan, who is now the special envoy to Syria, and Clooney is greatly interested by the troubles in the region.

At first, any association was denied. Clooney’s spokesman Stan Rosenfield said they were “just friends”.

Then, in December, Clooney had a rant to the effect that Twitter was “just stupid” and anyone who was famous and had a Twitter account was “a moron”.

Within 24 hours, Alamuddin’s modest band of followers were surprised to note that she had closed down her Twitter account.

In February, she accompanied Clooney to a White House screening of his latest film, Monuments Men, where they were described as being “very much together”.

And over the past few weeks the actor and Alamuddin have seemingly moved their flirtation to the next level. Earlier this month they took a safari in Tanzania. Then they went on holiday to the Seychelles where no trouble was taken to hide the romance.

From there, they returned to New York, and stayed at the Carlyle Hotel, where Clooney was based while promoting his latest film.

Now they are said to be in Dubai together, with Clooney getting to know Alamuddin’s family during a break on a yacht.

Hollywood gossips claim this is “already a serious romance” with one telling me: “George is head over heels about Amal in a way that he’s never been about any of the others.

“He really is crazy about her.”

Inevitably, it is being asked whether this association might end his aversion to marriage – he’s been resolutely single since a divorce from actress Talia Balsam in 1993.

So who is Alamuddin?

At 36, she is considerably younger than Clooney. Golden Globes hostess Tina Fey poked fun at the actor’s preference for younger partners at the recent awards ceremony, describing his film Gravity as “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age”.

Described in a recent list of “legal hotties” as “breathtakingly beautiful”, she speaks French, Arabic and English.

Alamuddin works from the renowned Doughty Street Chambers in London and specialises in International and Human Rights Law. She has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his fight against extradition, as well the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Her family are religious and belong to the Druze sect, an offshoot of Islam which is noted for its opposition to interfaith marriages.

Alamuddin’s father, Ramzi, is a retired professor of business studies at the American University of Beirut and his father, Khalil, was a doctor and the director of Beirut’s American University Hospital.

But Ramzi married outside the Druze faith. A family source said he had met Amal’s mother Baria in a nightclub in Beirut, and said that they believed her to be “certainly not Druze”.

Baria is a successful journalist and in her youth a newsreader on Lebanese television. A friend, journalist Jihad el Khazen, said the famous Lebanese poet Said Akl was “mesmerised” by Baria’s “Greek” beauty and had written a poem about her when she was in her 20s.

Alamuddin was born in Beirut, and another daughter, Tala, followed, plus sons Samer and Ziad.

Around 1987, the family moved to Gerrard’s Cross and Baria took up a job as the foreign editor of the Lebanese newspaper Al Hayat, a role she still holds today.

Her friend, the Philippines writer Carmen Pedrosa, said that in the mid-80s she was noted for her resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor.

She would, said Pedrosa, run around in stiletto heels. This was in order to present herself as a fashionable woman journalist when she met heads of state (such as India’s Indira Gandhi) and Nobel prize-winners. Baria is also long-time friend of the family of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

 

Contacted last week, Ramzi declined to comment on his daughter, saying that it was “all a private matter”.

But not everyone is so discreet about the possibility of Clooney joining the Alamuddin family. Baria’s friend, Jihad el Khazen said: “I knew Amal when she was little and then later as a grown woman, and we spoke in our last meeting about her work in defending Julian Assange. I was impressed with her intellect as much as I was impressed with the beauty of her mother, when we were all single and young.”

 

It’s not Alamuddin who should be congratulating herself on a fine catch, but Clooney who should be counting himself fortunate. – Daily Mail

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