Ramadan Icons: Meet Shwicar Khalifa - The woman behind the glamorous effects of Ramadan Fawazir

Yasmine Hosny, Thursday 4 Apr 2024

Shwicar Khalifa’s glamorous art effects and cartoon animation helped give the televised Ramadan Fawazir (Ramadan Riddles) their enduring charm between 1977 and 1990.

Shwicar Khalifa
Shwicar Khalifa. Al-Ahram


The following series is created in collaboration with Al-Ahram Information Centres.

Fawazir has been part and parcel of television during the holy month since long before being the prime time of fresh television series. Fawazir time usually fell after iftar, with a musical character that catered to the whole family, and lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

The fawazir were witty and easy, written by vernacular poetry pillars such as Salah Jaheen, and directed by the renowned Fahmy Abdel-Hamid. By the end of the holy month, all the children watching would have memorized the intro and ending songs of the fawazir by heart. A big part of this charm lay in the art effects/cartoon animation that were a novelty to the audience.

The mélange between cartoon characters and real ones, the toying with sizes of figures, and many other visual tricks made the fawazir a charming national pastime. Shwicar Khalifa was the woman behind all the glamour scene by scene.

The woman of coloured dreams

Khalifa was the creator of colourful dreams, the pioneer of cartoons, and the most famous cartoon designer in Egypt and the Arab world.

She was born on 4 February 1943 in Daqahliya governorate in the Nile Delta. She finished her studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Interior Design in 1965. Soon after, she joined Egyptian National Television where she was trained in all sections of television broadcast for six months. There she was enchanted by the cartoon animation department where she studied under icons like Hossam and Ali Mohib and soon started her work in their department

Known for her meticulous work, she travelled several times to Berlin during the late 1970s, and 1980s to study animation and graphics, production, documentaries, and television at the West Berlin Television Institute.

On television screens

She worked side by side with renowned director Fahmy Abdel-Hamid until his death, Her work is vividly shown in the intros of Ramadan Fawazir , and 1001 Night series, as well as intros of famous television dramas such as Bawabet Al-Halawany (Halawany Gate), Ghadebon Wa Ghadebat (Angry Young Men and Women), Damir Abla Hekmat (The Conscience of Ms Hekmat) and many more.

Documentaries and animation

She directed around 26 documentaries on the fine art scene in Egypt from 1982 to 1998. She also directed two children's animation films for UNICEF in 1994 and a performance at a US workshop and at a Hiroshima festival in 1996. The University of Florida still holds onto some of her works that they value greatly.  

In television

Khalifa became the deputy head of the Nile Specialized Channel for Family and Children in 1998, head of the Nile Television for Drama in 2001, and consultant of the head of the Nile Channels for Animation and Graphics 2003-2010.


Shwicar Khalifa won 37 national and international awards and certificates of merits for her outstanding achievements. In 1996 she was awarded a certificate of merit from the Hiroshima International Festival for animation and graphics for her animation film that called for civilian rights during times of war.

In 1994, she was registered as one of the most important animation and graphics artists in the Arab world, at the First Arab Encyclopedia for Arts, by the Jabal Lebanese Association.

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