Over at The Wire (India):
When Omar Sharif, as Sherif Ali, rode on a camel on to the shimmering desert in Lawrence of Arabia, the world discovered a new movie star. Cast opposite Peter O’Toole, who played the eponymous T.E. Lawrence, Sharif quickly became a heartthrob among female fans and continued to be one for years afterwards.
Sharif was already a big name in Egypt’s movie scene, having attained fame from his very first film Siraa Fil-wadi (The Burning Sun) in 1954. He had trained in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), but it was his swarthy good looks that captivated audiences.
Legend has it that India’s own Dilip Kumar was offered the Lawrence of Arabia role by David Lean but he turned it down and Sharif was selected. Sharif later confessed he did not understand why Lawrence was such a success, since it only had shots of people on camels walking from one side to the other.