Mother of Egypt's Al-Nour Wal Amal blind women orchestra Amal Fikry dies at 94

Ati Metwaly , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

Amal Fikry, who dedicated her life to supporting the Al-Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble of blind and visually impaired women musicians, died yesterday in Cairo at the age of 94.

Amal Fikry
Amal Fikry receives flowers after the Al Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra s concert in Hamburg, 11 October 2013 (Photo: Ati Metwaly)


Born on 1 December 1929, Fikry's contributions to the Al-Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra are countless and testify to her lifelong dedication to the blind and visually impaired girls and women musicians.

Her journey with Al-Nour Wal Amal Association began in the late 1960s when, as a young woman, she began working with the NGO, encouraged by her husband Zaki Hashem (founder of Zaki Hashem Law Firm, one of the oldest and largest law firms in the Middle East). It was at that time that the association (established by the late Istiklal Radi in 1954) had the relatively new Al-Nour Wal Amal Music Institute.

Focusing her efforts on the music institute, Fikry soon became the driving force behind the growing orchestra, establishing herself within the NGO to reach the position of the association's vice-chair. 

Giving the orchestra her heart and resources, it became her second family. She supported its growth and worked on its international exposure.

Besides the association, Fikry enjoyed a rich personal life and travels. However, she was marked by great humility, as in all her interviews she always directed the attention to the Al-Nour Wal Amal orchestra.

Fikry managed to arrange Al-Nour Wal Amal's first concert in the 1960s, consisting of 15 girls, on the stage of the Old (Khedival) Opera House. 

In the 1980s, the orchestra consisted of 35 girls, and with Fikry's work, it built a portfolio of many concerts on prestigious stages and before ambassadors and ministers of the time. This allowed Fikry to secure the first international concert for the ensemble, performed by the orchestra in Vienna, Austria, in 1988. 

In the following decades, the orchestra performed extensively in more than 30 countries on five continents, with all the travels being a direct result of Fikry’s hard work and public relations to promote the orchestra and the association’s activities, and due to her unshakable belief in the blind musicians.

Fikry was not only a great believer in the ensemble's values that embraced blind and visually impaired women and girls, but also a supporter of the orchestra members on personal levels.

Undoubtedly, she was a mother to all the girls, who grew in front of her eyes, turning to wives, mothers, and even grandmothers, while pursuing music. She cared for them all and supported them with her boundless warmth. Feeling proud of the girls' achievements, she used to speak very highly of the ensemble, which by time witnessed several generations of musicians, divided into senior and junior orchestras. 

For the association and all the musicians, Fikry's passing is a great loss. However, it is also a departure of one of the most important players in Egypt's cultural scene.

The wake for Amal Fikry will take place at Omar Makram Mosque on 6 March.

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