WWE has superstars from all around the globe, including a few who are of Arab descent.
In the early 1990s, the company signed Iraqi wrestler General Adnan to join forces with Sgt. Slaughter. Since then, several Arabs and others of Arab descent have joined WWE.
Throughout the past few years, WWE has expanded its market in the Arab World. The company also held a few tryouts in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The tryouts resulted in the signing of a few names, including Mohamed Fahim from Egypt, Nasser Al Ruwayeh from Kuwait, and Shadia Besiso from Jordan, who became the first-ever Arab woman to work for WWE.
Although the three mentioned athletes recently left WWE, others have made it to the main shows. Over the past two decades, a few wrestlers of Arab descent have competed on Monday Night RAW and SmackDown. Some of them even held Championships.
Here are five WWE Superstars of Arab descent.
#5. WWE Superstar Aliyah
Aliyah's real name is Nhooph Al-Areebi. She has revealed that she is half Syrian and half Iraqi. However, she was born in Toronto and is a Canadian citizen.
Although Aliyah considers herself "pretty Canadian," she grew up connected to her Arab roots. At home, she spoke both English and Arabic with her parents and had a chance to visit the Middle East.
The 26-year-old WWE Superstar also grew up in a conservative environment.
"I have a typical Arabic family. We’re very conservative. I grew up in Canada, but I’m a first-generation Canadian. My parents are from the Middle East. We had strict rules. There were certain things I couldn’t wear, no boyfriends, strict curfews. They were hard on me about school. I had to get good grades," She told WWE.com.
Aliyah admitted her parents were not pleased when she first started wrestling. However, they later changed their minds after seeing her success. The WWE Superstar has a close relationship with her family.
Being of Arab descent, Aliyah hopes to inspire other females from the Arab world to follow in her footsteps.
"I hope to be an inspiration to all Arabic females and young girls. It’s definitely the road less traveled," she added in her WWE.com interview.
According to reports, Aliyah recently left NXT to join Monday Night RAW. Nonetheless, the 26-year-old is yet to compete on the Red Brand. Instead, the WWE Superstar has wrestled in a few dark matches on SmackDown over the past few weeks.
#4. WWE Superstar Amale
Amale joined WWE last year. She hails from Béziers in southern France and has introduced herself as the first French female wrestler to sign with WWE.
The WWE Superstar is also of Moroccan descent. Amale means "hope" in the Arabic language. According to the 28-year-old, her nickname French Hope reflects both her origins being Franco-Moroccan.
After Amale signed with WWE, a Twitter user pointed out that Amale is the second-ever woman of Moroccan descent to become a WWE Superstar after Layla El. Layla quickly responded to that tweet, sending her congratulations to her "fellow magraba."
Amale, who was a school teacher before signing with WWE, currently competes on NXT UK. She recently challenged Meiko Satomura for the NXT UK Women's Title but came up short. However, she emerged victorious in her last match against Nina Samuels.
Besides competing on NXT UK, the Franco-Moroccan is the current wXw Women's Champion. She defeated Killer Kelly, Toni Storm and Valkyrie at Superstars of Wrestling to capture the title more than two years ago. She has held the championship for over 800 days so far.
#3. Former WWE Women's Champion Layla
"I am a little bit Latin, and I am Moroccan, plus I was born and raised in England, so I'm all mixed up," She told WWE.com.
Layla had a long and successful career in WWE. She joined the company in 2006 following her participation in the 2006 Diva Search competition. The 44-year-old went on to win the Women's Championship and the Divas Championship. In 2015, Layla decided to hang up her boots after spending nine years wrestling for WWE.
In an interview with the Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast, Layla explained why she decided to retire.
"I was getting older. I’m mid-life right now. Those days are gone. You get to a point as a woman, it’s really hard to age in the public eye. It really is. I didn’t want that for myself, I didn’t want to go out there. I stayed too long, I think I should have maybe retired three years before I did. That was the thought process for me. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to get injured. In my head, I was kind of nervous. My time was gone. I loved it. I appreciated it, but my time has passed. You have to accept that and move on."
Since her retirement, Layla has visited Morocco several times and posted photos and videos of herself with her family in the Arab country to her social media accounts.
#2. WWE Superstar Sami Zayn
Zayn fell in love with pro wrestling at a young age. However, young Zayn could not find an Arab wrestler to look up to growing up, as he told Al Arabiya English. It was something that encouraged him to seek a pro wrestling career.
"If you were in Arab you had mothers who wanted you to become a doctor or an engineer and it was the same with me. I perform so that kids watching television can see themselves represented and that their dreams and goals are attainable," Zayn told Al Arabiya English.
Zayn speaks several languages, including Arabic. WWE has used him to address its fans in the Arab world several times. The WWE Superstar is also very connected to his Syrian roots.
Following the outbreak of the war in Syria, Zayn set up a fund called Sami for Syria to support the Syrian American Medical Society and provide medical care for war victims in his parents' home country.
"It’s obviously a subject that’s very personal to me, being Syrian. I’m a Canadian-born Syrian, my parents are from Syria, my family lives in Syria—a lot of them have been displaced. I visited the country when I was younger. For the longest time, I wanted to figure out a way to help," Zayn explained why he started Sami for Syria.
Zayn is a former NXT Champion and two-time Intercontinental Champion. He is currently competing on SmackDown.
#1. WWE Superstar Mansoor
WWE Superstar Mansoor was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is the first-ever Saudi wrestler to join WWE. The 25-year-old wrestled for a few years on the independent circuit before participating in a WWE tryout held in his home country ahead of the 2018's Greatest Royal Rumble.
Mansoor caught the eye of the WWE scouts and signed a developmental contract to join the performance center among a few other wrestlers. Three years later, the Saudi WWE Superstar is now on the main roster, competing on Monday Night RAW.
Like Zayn, Mansoor had a hard time relating to any of the WWE wrestlers growing up. That led him to set a goal for himself.
"The guys I saw on TV were cool, but there was nobody I could directly relate to, who was like me. Now, I am trying to represent that. It is honestly so big for me. I feel so sure that there will be hundreds of Saudi wrestlers after me now. That’s my goal," Mansoor told Vogue Man Arabia.
The Saudi wrestler admitted that his presence in WWE revolves around WWE’s commercial relationship with his country. However, he insisted it did not affect his WWE character.
"Of course my being here revolves around WWE’s commercial relationship with Saudi Arabia, but I’m not coming out on a camel to Arab music, wearing traditional dress. They could do that, but they don’t because they just want me to be me," he added in his interview with Vogue Man Arabia.
Mansoor is currently allied with Mustafa Ali on RAW. Last Monday, Ali helped the Saudi superstar defeat MACE.