Egyptian artists and writers we lost in year 2018
Ahram Online, , Monday 7 Jan 2019
Ahram Online looks back at some of the rare artistic talents Egypt lost during the past year

14 December

Hassan Kami, opera singer, actor and cultural activist

Kami was born on 2 November 1936. He performed in over 240 operas in theatres in Egypt and across the globe and his voice brought him several awards. Later in his life, Kami has also entered the world of cinema,and acted in films such as Nasser 56 (1996), Zaki Khan (2005), Bobbos (2009), and TV series El-Gamaah (2010), among others.

Passionate about all facets of culture, Kami was an owner and manager of Cairo's L'Orientalist bookshop, a small space filled with old and rare books and manuscripts.

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10 December

Mahmoud El-Qalaawi, actor

El-Qalaawi was born in 12 November, 1939, and graduated from Faculty of Law on 1964.

He was awarded the lifetime achievement award and honoured at the 59th Catholic Centre Film Festival in Cairo in 2011.

El-Qalaawi's career in television, cinema and theatre spanned over 45 years.

His most memorable work in theatre came in The Joker (1979) opposite comedian Mohamed Sobhi.

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9 December

Ahmed El-Sayed, theatre director and producer

In last years of his life, Ahmed El-Sayed was director of Cairo's Comedy Theatre but he had been involved in theatre since childhood, first working besides his father, who was a theatre director.

El-Sayed wrote several dramatic works and directed a few plays in the later stages of his career.

El-Sayed was also part of the production crew of Morgan Ahmed Morgan directed by Ali Idris, in which Adel Imam also starred.

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1 November

Mohamed Sabry, painter

Sabry is considered one of the prominent painters of Egyptian Modern Art school. He belongs to what is coined as the second generation of the Egyptian Art.

According to the Egy-net website, Sabry was a “pioneer and master of pastel drawing. His works are noted for their delicate understanding of nature. The artist depicts lyrical landscapes and scenes of everyday life that make the people see the beauty of the world. In his artworks he expresses real light and color as well as his interpretation of it with a dazzling technique.”

With over 60 solo exhibition in Egypt and around the world and works adorning many international museums and galleries, Sabry earned a professorship, and later membership, from the Royal Academy San Fernando in Madrid, and was a member of the Royal Academy San Carlos in Valencia.


24 October

Chant Avedissian, visual artist

Acclaimed artist Avedissian was born in Cairo in 1951 to an Armenian family, and was educated in Montreal and Paris.

He was known for his images of iconic figures in Egyptian history, notably Umm Kalthoum, Farid Al Atrash, Abdel Halim Hafez, Faten Hamama and Asmahan. As well as political figures from between the 1940s and 1970s.

He worked through a wide range of media, including prints, painting, photography and textiles.

His work often integrated traditional Pharaonic iconography, Islamic geometric patterns, Ottoman design,as well as pop art, folk art, sufi poetry and zen principles.

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23 October

Sakina Mohamed Ali

First Egyptian woman to work in theatre costume design and scenography, Sakina Mohamed Ali was recognised by UNESCO as one of the four most important scenographers of Brecht's work.

She participated in a series of famous and successful plays in Egypt, including Shahrazade, Ah ya Ghagar, and Sekket El-Salama.

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15 October

Ahmed Abdel-Warith, actor

Over the course of his career, Warith appeared in 150 productions in television, cinema and theatre.

He started his career on television in shows that include Horoob (Escape), Zahret El-Aswar (The Rose of the Fence) and El-Mosaferoon (The Travellers).

His most significant roles on television were in Rehlat El-Million (The Journey of a Million), Seyam Seyam (Fasting Fasting), Qesset Ams (Yesterday's Story).

His last television series was Ard Gaw (Land-Air), which aired during Ramadan 2017.

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5 October

Atiyat Al-Abnoudi, documentary filmmaker

Born as Atiyat Awad Khalil, she was better known by the name of her former husband, the late vernacular poet Abdel-Rahman Al-Abnoudi.

She became one of the most important names in the field of documentary filmmaking in Egypt, so much so that she was called the Ambassador of Documentary Cinema.

She also founded a production company, Abnoud, to help sustain her work. Her documentaries such as Kanto Market, Possible Dreams or Days of Democracy tackle the challenges and achievements of the working class and the dispossessed.

She received the Best Co-Production Award at the Valencia International Film Festival for her film Life’s Rhythm in 1990, the Egyptian Cinema Critics’ Association Award for her film Who Sold and Who Bought in 1992 as well as a lifetime achievement award at the National Film Festival in 1998.


25 September

Galal Amin, writer and economist

Galal, who was born in 1935, was best known for his books Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? (2000), Whatever Else Happened to the Egyptians? (2003), Egypt in the Era of Hosni Mubarak (2011), and The Illusion of Progress in the Arab World (2006).

Amin graduated from Cairo University in 1955 with a law degree, before traveling to Britain to continue his studies at the London School of Economics. He returned to Egypt in the mid 1960s to teach at Ain Shams University, and later American University in Cairo.

Amin was a vehement critic of the former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, and was regarded as a prominent opposition figure during his rule, particularly in the final ten years.

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19 September

Gamil Rateb, actor

Gamil Rateb was one of the renowned Egyptian actors.

Rateb has been honored for his work both in Egypt and France, and was a recipient of France’s Legion d’Honneur de Grade de Chevalier in 1995, for 59 years of exceptional work in cinema and film.

Rateb, an icon of Egyptian cinema and drama, appeared in dozens of films and TV shows over the course of his career including the 1962 Oscar-winning historical drama film “Lawrence of Arabia,” opposite Peter O’Toole.

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4 September

Khaled Al-Telmissany, still photographer

Egyptian still photographer Khaled Al-Telmissany was born in 1966 in an art-centric family, He started his career assisting his father Abdel-Qader, who was a known director and writer, before assisting his uncle Hassan and his cousin Tarek shooting movies before finally cooperating with a few important directors.

His last professional works as a still photographer were with director Adel Adib in the TV series Gabal Al-Halal in 2014 and the movie Saiokom Mashkoor ya Bro in 2015.
Inspired by his sister, a novelist Mai El-Telmissany, Khaled also published three novels.

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18 August

Nagy Shaker, artist and puppeteer

Born in 1932, Shaker worked as a director, set designer and painter. He experimented with nearly all forms of art: poster, graphic and interior design.

His name became synonymous with puppet theatre after he designed the puppets for the great musical Al-Leila Al-Kebira (The Big Night) in 1961.

Shaker received the State Appreciation Award, granted by Egypt’s Supreme Council for Culture, in the field of the arts in 2015. Shaker’s last art work was an exhibition entitled Light Talk, displaying 14 light installations.

His film Seif 70 (Summer 70), co-directed by Paolo Isaja, is in the film collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa).

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27 July

Hayatem, dancer and actress

Born in 1949 as Soheir Hassan Mohamed in Alexandria, Hayatem embarked on her artistic journey as a professional belly dancer in Alexandria in the 1960s, beginning to act later on her arrival to Cairo.

She acted alongside Nour Al-Sherif and Soad Hosni in Gharib Fi Bayti (A Stranger in My House, 1983) directed by Samir Seif and starred opposite Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, Samir Ghanem, Soheir Ramzi and the popular singer Ahmed Adawiya in Al-Banat Aayza Eih (What Girls Want, 1980) and Waraa Al-Shams (Beyond the Sun, 1978).

In recent years she starred alongside Mona Zaki in Youssri Nasrallah’s Ehki Ya Scheherazade (Tell it, Scheherazade, 2009). She also made a number of notable television appearances, including Zuhra Wa Azwagha Al-Khamsa (Zuhra and Her Five Husbands, 2010).

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17 August

Sanaa Mazhar, actress

Born in 1932, Sanaa Mazhar was one of the three girls in the film Biyaa Al Jarid concidered one of the most important Egyptian cinematic works, appearing alongside Magda al-Sabahi and Naima Akef.

Her other roles include films such as Modarasaty el Hasnaa starring Hend Rostom, A Crime in the Silent Neighborhood starring Rushdi Abaza, Nadia Lutfi, among others.

She also participated in many historical works and she portrayed Queen Bilqis in a documentary film.


27 July

Mohamed Sharaf, actor

Born in Alexandria in 1963, Sharaf acted on stage before making his name in television, notably in the role of Sambo alongside Salah Al-Saadani, Hoda Sultan and Hisham Selim in screenwriter Osama Anwar Okasha’s popular 1994 series Arabesque.

Sharaf often played the role of the villain and the small-time criminal, in which capacity he supported comedian Mohamed Heneidi in films like Belya wi Demagho Al-Alia (High Belya, 2000), Askar fil Moaskar (Askar in the Camp, 2003) and Ramadan Mabrouk Abul-Alamein Hamouda (2008); he also supported Ahmed Helmi in Zaki Chan (2005), Zarf Tarek (Urgent Situation, 2006), Asef Ala Al-Izaag (Sorry for the Inconvenience, 2008) and X-Large (2011).

In 2008, he gave one of his memorable performances in Sameh Abdel-Aziz’s Cabaret.


13 July

Hazem Azmi, theatre expert and critic

An assistant professor at the Department of Drama and Theatre Criticism at the Faculty of Arts of Ain Shams University, Azmi was a co-convener of the Arabic Theatre Working Group of the IFTR/FIRT and his participation in the congress this year focused on presenting Arab theatre.

A translator, cross-cultural animator and theatre researcher, Azmi earned his PhD at the University of Warwick in the UK, with a thesis on post-9/11 performance realities.
He lived in Cairo while continuing to create strong links between the Egyptian and international theatre field.

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30 June

Michel El-Masry, composer and violinist

El-Masry, who was born in 1933 in Cairo, is best known for composing the popular and memorable soundtracks for the television series Layaly El-Helmeya and Aelat El-Hag Metwally.

As a violinist, El-Masry shared the stage with Omm Kalthoum in her last few concerts, playing songs that included Leilet Hob, Ya Mesaharny, Men Agl Eineik, and Aghadan Alqak.

El-Masry was a member of the El-Masa Music band as first violin, and also played with Lebanese singer Fayrouz.

El-Masry also composed soundtracks for over 10 films and 27 television series, and has performed in around 100 soundtracks for television series.

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28 June

Medhat Morsi , actor

Born in 1949, Medhat Morsi acted in radio, television and film.

Among his well known roles was one of a government employee in the film Stories of the Stranger.

He also took roles in films such as The Secret Session, Escape from the Chanka, television series

Raafat Al-Hagan, Al-Ayyam, The Conscience of Abla Hikmat starring Faten Hamama, Dahab starring Yahya Al Fakhrani among others.

Morsi often appeared in historical works for the Egyptian television, including On the Edge of the Biography, Imam Malik, The Kaaba, Muhammad Rasool Allah, Al-Azhar Al Sharif, Judiciary in Islam.


19 June

Amal Farid, actress

Farid was born on 12 February 1938 in Cairo's Abbassiya district, and was a graduate of sociology. Her acting career was launched at the hands of Baba Sharo (Mohamed Mahmoud Shaaban) in the early 1950s, when she was hired to work on his children's radio show.

She was recommended by writers Mostafa Amin and Anis Mansour to appear in her first movie Mawed Maa El-Saada (A Date with Happiness), with mega star Faten Hamama in 1954. This was followed by many iconic roles in cinema alongside huge names including Abdel-Halim Hafez and Ahmed Ramzi.

Over her nearly two-decade career, Farid appeared in over 30 films including Layali El-Hob with Abdel-Halim. Farid’s filmography includes Banat El-Yom (1957), Seraa Maal Hayat (1957), Min Agl Emraa (1959), Ismail Yassin Fil Tayaran (1959), Banat Bahri (1961), Zekrayat El-Talmaza (1965), and Geziret El-Oshak (1968).

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17 June

Maher Essam, actor

Orn in Cairo in 1979, Maher Essam started his acting career when he was only 5 years old with the famous director Youssef Chahine. Hassan Abd El Salam cast him in the adapted play “Zoqaq El Madaa.”

He then appeared in numerous films and television series, including Al-nemr wa al-ontha (1987), Bab el shams (2004) and Oula Thanawi (2001).


30 May

Madiha Yousri, actress

Madiha Yousri was born in 1919 in Cairo, Ghanima Habib Khalil.

“She was an actress and producer, known for Wafaa (1954), Inni rahela (1955) and Al-khataya (1962). She was married to Ahmed Salem, Ibrahim Salama Alradi, Muhammad Fawzi and Mohamed Amine,” reads her biography on IMDb


8 April

Amal Fahmi, Egyptian radio host

Egyptian Radio host Amal Fahmi, left behind an illustrious five-decade career as one of the most successful radio hosts in Egypt, interviewing a wide range of guests from ordinary members of the public to local and international celebrities.

She graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University with a degree in Arabic language before joining the Egyptian national radio in 1951. In 1958, she launched her weekly radio show Aal-Nasseya (At The Street Corner) on the country’s main radio station.

Fahmi was the first woman to head a state-owned radio station in the Middle East. She was married to radio director Mohamed Alwan.

Fahmi’s show was suspended only once in the late 1960s, after it aired a complaint by a citizen who critiques the government under president Gamal Abdel-Nasser.


2 April

Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, writer

Born in 1962, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik was one of the earliest Egyptian writers to specialise in horror, science fiction and fantasy, and his work included both illustrated books and novels.

His distinguished style attracted wide and diverse readerships, but were mostly people who grew up reading his entertaining books, often finishing in one sitting, before he moved on to write longer books and novels.

His 2008 novel Utopia was a great hit and a continuation of the success that his Metaphysics series achieved.

His first books came to light via another famous Egyptian writer named Nabil Farouk.

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26 March

Journalist and critic Louis Greiss

He studied journalism and literature at the American University in Cairo and graduated in 1955.

He was offered his first job reporting for the new publication of Rose Al-Youssef, Sabah Al-Kheir. Meanwhile, he got accepted for a scholarship at Ann Arbour, Michigan, and upon his return became managing editor of Sabah Al-Kheir, ‘and in 1968 I became co-editor-in-chief, together with Mamdouh Al-Saadani.’ Later he became the sole editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1980 to 1989 when he retired.

In addition to his journalism, Greiss wrote a number of short stories like Al-Hobb wal Mal (Love and Money) and Hadha Ma Yahdouth Lel Nas (That What Happens to People), and he translated the play The Price by Arthur Miller.

In 1990 he was a participant in the preparatory meetings with Chairman of the board of Al-Ahram Establishment Ibrahim Nafie before the launch of Al-Ahram Weekly; he was the one to suggest the name.


17 February

Mohamed Metwalli, actor

Born in 1945 in Shebin El-Koum, Menoufia, Mohamed Metwalli was among Egypt's foremost actors whose acting career spanned over 40 years with more than 200 roles in theatre, film and television series.

Metwalli was among the rare Egyptian actors who made it into the international scene in the 1980s. He acted in a US drama titled Sphinx (1981), directed by Franklin Schaffner and starring Lesley-Anne Down and Frank Langella.

Metwalli’s leading role in the television series The Family of Haj Metwalli (Aalet Al Hag Metwalli, 2001), aired during the month of Ramadan, brought him large attention from viewers not only due to his talent, but also due to the character he portrayed: Haj Metwalli and his four wives, each living in one apartment of the same building.

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16 February

Ali Abu Shadi, film critic

One of the pillars of film criticism in Egypt, Ali Abu Shadi died at the age of 72.

Abu Shadi was a prolific writer, producing dozens of quality books on cinema that chronicled and analysed, among other works, documentary films of the 1970s, the history of Egyptian cinema (1895-1994), Egyptian film classics and trends of the aughts.

He held numerous major posts in the state including secretary of the Higher Council of Culture (2007-2009), a position second only to that of the minister of culture, overseeing various arms of the cultural establishment: the Cultural Development Fund, the Plastic Arts Sector, the Censorship Authority, the Cultural Production Sector.

He was appointed editor of the state-supported magazine Cinema (1975-1983), published by the Popular Culture (now Cultural Palaces) arm of the ministry,

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24 January

Sayed Khattab, theatre critic

Theatre critic, director and actor Sayed Khattab was best known as a critic and professor of criticism at the Higher Institute for Theatre Arts, and a former head of the General Authority of Culture Palaces in 2016.

In 2007, Khattab earned a PhD in art philosophy from Italy on the effect of digital technologies on the art of writing about theatre. Khattab's writings have been published in several publications including Masrahna newspaper and Fan wa Ebdaa Magazine.

As an actor, he joined El-Ghad Theatre troupe between 1996 and 1995, and later became a juror and critic at several theatre festivals around the world.

Khattab served for several years as a theatre specialist at the Ministry of Education, and as general manager of the Cultural Research sector at the National Centre for Theatre, Music and Folk Arts in 2008 and 2009. He was also deputy of the Culture Minister and head of the Censorship Authority on Artistic Works for three years.

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22 January

Marwan Shaaban, guitarist

Shaaban succumbed to leukemia at the age of 38.

His most significant contribution to music was through playing in Wyvern, a heavy metal band founded in 2003.


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