Malek was born in Los Angeles, on May 12, 1981, to Coptic-Egyptian immigrant parents, Said Malek and Nelly Abdel-Malek. He has said he is of one-eighth Greek Egyptian heritage. His parents left Cairo in 1978 after his father, a tour guide, became intrigued with his visitors from the West. They settled in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, mostly staying in the valley and rarely venturing into Hollywood. His father sold insurance; his mother is an accountant. Malek was raised in his family's Coptic Orthodox Christian faith, and grew up speaking colloquial Egyptian Arabic at home until the age of four. Malek has an identical twin brother named Sami who is younger by four minutes; he is a teacher. Malek's older sister, Yasmine, is an ER doctor. His parents emphasized to their children the importance preserving their Egyptian roots, and his father would wake his son in the middle of the night to talk to his Arabic-speaking extended family in their hometown of Samalut, Egypt.