Important Faces from Alexandria

Former President of Egypt

Gamal Abdel Nasser

(1918 – 1970)

He is the former President of Egypt. He was born in Qanawati Street, Bachus, Alexandria, at his father’s Hussein, employee at the Post Office. He quit studying law and joined the Military College instead. He took part in the Palestine War and was besieged in Faluja in 1948.

Nasser led the 23rd of July Revolution, 1952, when the monarchy was ousted and the Republic declared in 1954. He abolished feudalism via agricultural reform laws-distributing lands on the crushed poor.

His name and memory are still resonating in Egypt, the Arab World, Africa, Asia and Latin America, to date.

Secretary General of the League of Arab States

Dr. Essmat Abdel-Majeed

(1923 – 2013)

He was born in Alexandria in 1923. He obtained a BA in law in 1943 and was awarded his PhD from Paris, during the period between 1950 and 1954. He was a Secretary of the Egyptian Embassy in London.

In 1954, he was appointed head of the Department of Britain, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supervised the implementation of the Evacuation Agreement.

He was known as Sheikh of Arab diplomacy, dean of Egyptian diplomacy. He was Egypt’s permanent delegate to the United Nations, a Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of the League of Arab States.


Omar Sharif

(1932 – 2015)

He was born in Alexandria on April 10th 1932. He is the only Egyptian and Arab cinema ambassador in the international cinema. Sharif is one of the superstars in the history of the Egyptian Cinema. Director,Yousif Shahin introduced him as a star for the first time with Faten Hamamah in the film, Ser’a fil Wadi (conflict in the Valley) 1956.

In the 1960s director David Lean, introduced him in his film, Lawrence of Arabia This was his first ticket to international stardom. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Doctor Zhivago. He won many international prizes, including: the Golden Lion in 2004, in addition to Arab and Egyptian Prizes.

His legacy will always be remembered throughout the ages.


Nadia Lotfi

(Born 1937)

She was born in Alexandria in 1937. Lotfi obtained the Deutsche School Diploma and took up acting. She was awarded many local and international artistic prizes.

She was a panel member of the cinema panel of the cinema panel of the Supreme Council of Arts, member of the foreign affairs committee of the Egyptian Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee.


Nabaweyya Mousa

(1886 – 1951)

She is a writer, an education pioneer, and anti-reactionist illuminator. Mousa established a major school in Alexandria in Egypt to obtain the Baccalaureate in 1907. Mousa studied law as well, but was banned from taking examinations in the final year, thanks to the British occupation.

She assumed the office of principal of the School of Female Teachers (it has never been occupied except by English women before).


Salama Hejazi

(1852 – 1917)

He was born in 1853 and died in 1917 at Ras el- Teen. He learnt writing and memorized the Holy Qura’an when he was a child. Later, he worked as a mu’azzin in el-Abbaseri Mosque, Alexandria. The crowd used to gather around the mosque to listen to him as he calls for prayer.

His first step in theater came when Yousif Khayyat, an owner of one of the old theater groups, listened to him calling for the prayer. He liked his voice and enrolled him in his troupe. Later, he formed his own.


Sayed Darweesh

(1892 – 1923)

He was born in Alexandria in 1892 and died in 1923. He is considered a pioneer of Arab music. He started his life by memorizing the Holy Qura’an and studied in the religious institute in Alexandria. He then took up singing in cafes after his father died.

Working as a builder, he started singing the melodies of the builders, carpenters, porters and craftsmen and mastered. them as he composed out of his first- hand experience with the craftsmen. He joined the troupe of Salama Hejazi and composed marvelous muwassahat, musical notes and Taqatiq.

He is also considered the first to develop integrated artistic foundations of such theater lyrical forms: he was a pioneering revivalist of the musicals.


Muhammad Al- Kola’i

(1881 – 1983)

He was born in Alexandria in 1881. He learnt the basics of oriental, Turkish, Persian and Andalusian Music and was interested in diversifying musical notes and rhythms in lyrical composition.

Al-Kola’i is a pioneering revivalist of composition. He composed a number of plays that famed in the early 20th century. He composed music for plays, songs, anthems and Taqatiq. He died in 1983 in Cairo.


Yousif Shahin

(1926 – 2008)

He is one of the most outstanding directors of Egyptian cinema. Ten of the films directed were ranked among the best 100 films in the history of Egyptian cinema.

Shahin won a number of prestigious local & international awards among which the Berlin Grand Jury Prize for “Alexandria.. Why?” (Iskandariyyah lîh) and a Lifetime Achievement Award on the 50th Cannes Film Festival in 1997.

Swimmer of the Century

Abdel Latif Abu Heif

(1929 – 2008)

Abu Heif was marathon swimming champion. He was recognized as the Marathon Swimmer of the Century by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was born on January 30th 1929 at Gumrok district. In 1955, he graduated from the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst) in Britain. He was the 1964, 1965, 1968 World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation Champion.

King Farouk honored him in 1951 following his swim in The English Channel “La Manche”. He was also awarded by President Muhammad Naguib in 1954 for swimming in The English Channel for the second time. He was also awarded the Decoration of the Republic of the First Order by President Nasser.


Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz

(1946 – 2016)

He was born in Alexandria in 1946. He graduated from from the Faculty of Agriculture, Alexandria University.

He is one of the distinguished actors who have had an imprint on Egyptian drama, tragedy and comedy. He won many local and international prizes for his television and cinema performances.

Actor and Director

Mahmoud Moursi

(1923 – 2004)

He was born in Alexandria in 1923. Mahmoud obtained a BA in Philosophy, Alexandria University. He studied cinema directing in Paris in 1954. He directed for the Egyptian radio in 1957 and then directed for television. He acted many films and series and won numerous local and international prizes.


Hassan Fayeq

(1898 – 1980)

He was born in Alexandria in 1898. At first, he worked as a salesperson in the stores of Younis el- Sherbini for women wear. In 1914, he formed, with Yousif Wahbi and Hussein Riyadh, The Acting Union Association. They also performed some of the historical plays, written by Fayeq himself. He joined the troupe of George Abyad and tried his luck in tragic roles.

In 1921, he formed a private group, having sold his wife’s jewelry and traveled to farthest Upper Egypt. In 1923, he joined the troupe of Yousif Wahbi, the national troupe in 1935, and then that of Ismael Yassin in 1955. He presented 412 films throughout his acting career. Fayeq passed away on September 14th 1980 after a life of distinct and ever- giving acting career.


Ahmed Ragab

(1928 – 2014)

He was born in Alexandria and graduated from the Faculty of Law, Alexandria University. He is considered a pioneer of the school of satirical literature. He took up journalism and literature, working at akhbar al-Yom newspaper. He reached the epitome of literary creativity with his highly intellectual style, dealing with social and day- to- day problems.


Tawfik Al- Hakeem

(1898 – 1987)

He is a pioneer of the Egyptian Cultural Renaissance. He was born in Alexandria in 1898, at Muharam Bek. He graduated from the Faculty of Law and worked as a public prosecutor. Later, he dedicated himself to literature and journalism.

He is considered one of the major men-of-letters and Arab thinkers, who possess a vivacious ability to raise contention and national debates as regards contemporary issues. His novels and plays are still considered masterpieces of the Arab literature.

The play that made him really famous, as a man-of-letters, was the People of the Cave, which was acclaimed by Dr. Taha Hussein as a new phase in Arab Literature as a whole. The play represents a shift from literary thinking towards drama.


Hussein Picar

(1913 – 2002)

He is a painter, musician and writer. He was born in Alexandria in 1912. He studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts and worked as a teacher of drawing and painting at the Faculty. He then resigned and devoted himself to journalism at Akhbar al-Yom from 1959 until he died.

He is considered a pioneer of children journalism and comics.  He was influenced by the Pharaonic art and the Japanese drawings. This was reflected in his vision of the woman he draws: always decently-dressed and respectable, not seductive even though seemingly naked!

Music engrossed him- he played the lute and the tunbur (a long-necked, stringed instrument resembling the mandolin).


Dr. Kamel Mustafa

(1917 – 1982)

He was born in Alexandria in 1917. He graduated from the High School of Fine Arts in 1924. He also studied fine arts in Rome, in addition to photography and decoration.

Mustafa obtained a diploma in the restoration of oil paintings. He assumed the office of dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University. He held many exhibitions inside and outside Egypt. Egyptian museums: Port Said, Mansoura, Alexandria, Modern Art Museum, Cairo and Alexandria, Mustafa Kamel Museum and the Ministry of Defense, are home to some of his possessions that record national events.


Mahmoud Moursi

He is a pioneer sculptor. He was born in Alexandria in 1913. Moursi studied art independently until 1931 and then he traveled to Paris. He is a member of the Artists University and has his own studio at the atelier. He has been working, since 1957, as a professor of rock sculpture, Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University.

His most important works consist in: the memorial of the Greek pilot martyrs in 1943, embossed sculptures on marble, at the National Bank of Egypt, Cairo; at the entrance to Dar Akhbar el-Yom, Cairo; at the entrance to Dar Akhbar el-Yom, Cairo; at the Jesuit Church, Alexandria; Maritime Station, Alexandria; Sheraton Hotel, Cairo; Maronite Church, Cairo and a statue of stone “Yugoslavia”, 1980.


Dr. Farouk Shehata

(1938 – 2017)

He is a Professor of Graphics and a world artist. He was born in Alexandria in 1938 and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1962. He obtained his PhD from the Academy of Arts, Nuremberg, Germany in 1981. He held many exhibitions in Egypt and Germany, in addition to other possessions showcased at Sculpture Museum in Paris; Egyptian Modern Art Museum, Cairo; Art Academy Museums in Cairo and Alexandria. The German Television directed 3 documentaries about the stages of his artistic life.

Shehata won numerous local and international prizes: Alexandria Biennale; Graphic Arts Biennale in Krakoff, Poland; the Chancellor of Germany Medal; the Medal of Kurt Waldheim, the President of Austria; Bratislava University Medal, Czechoslovakia; Medal of the Art Museum, Vienna; the Ministry of Culture Medal, Bulgaria.


Farouk Hosni

(Born 1938)

He was the Minister of Culture. He was born in Alexandria in 1938 and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Decoration. He worked in the cultural centers in Alexandria and Cairo; Art Academy, Rome and Paris; and then he was appointed Minister of Culture. He is a plastic artist. He held several exhibitions in Egypt and other world capitals: Rome and Paris.

Hosni won various national and international prizes. He renovated the Egyptian museums and established new ones, in addition to renovating al-Horreya Palace, which is now one of the most important landmarks of culture in Alexandria.


Mahmoud Said

(1897 – 1964)

He was born in Alexandria, at Bahri district, on April 8th 1897, at his father’s house, Muhammad Pasha Said, Egypt’s Prime Minister then. He obtained a BA in law from France in 1919 and joined the free department at Grande Chambre Art Academy, Paris, for one year. He drew many portraits of his family members and his niece, Queen Farida (Safinaz zu Al-Faqqar).

He worked as a judge and then resigned to devote himself to artistic creation in 1947. He used to be the reporter of the fine arts committee at Supreme Council of Arts in 1956. He was the first Egyptian artist to be awarded the State’s Award of Recognition in Arts by President Nasser in 1960. He died on April 8th 1964.

His villa is now a centre of Mahmoud Said’s Museums for Art, Janaklees, Alexandria.


Ibrahim Adham Wanly

(1908 – 1959)

He was born in Alexandria in 1908 in Arfan Pasha’s Palace, Moharram Bey district. His father was lsmael Bey Muhammad Wanly. He and his brother, Seif were students of the ltalian artist, Otto Ringo Bekki. They studied at the artist’s studio (1930 – 1934).

Later, he established together with his brother their own studio in 1935. He and his brother held many exhibitions, inside and outside Egypt, since 1942. He was appointed lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University, in 1957 as was his brother. He died in 1959.

The Fine Arts Museum held an exhibition of all his works, including: 186 oil paintings of different themes, 12 on Ballet, theatre and the circus; 100 for bullfighting, dancers and caricatures. Seif Wanly turned their studio into a museum of his brother’s works and named it after him.


Laila Mourad

(1918 – 1995)

Born in 17th of November 1918 in Alexandria and traveled to Cairo after a while, where she was as an amazine chantren. Lailamurad was during 30 os & 40 so a twinkle star in movies.

She left a wealth of the Egyptian songs, and movies of the most famous films of Laila Mourad are: long live love, Laila, raining night, my heart is my guide, Anber, lover`s of soul, love is life, the unknown part, girls lovemaking and beach of love.


Edwar El Kharrat

(1926 – 2015)

Born in Alexandria in 16 -3 -1926 a notable writer, and critic, he was born of Alexandria, which was materialized in his two enjoyable novels, City of Saffron and Girls of Alexandria, the first one is an indirect biography of him.

El Kharrat lived in Alexandria a during the period of the second world war, in an cosmopolitan atmosphere, so his literature represents an addition to the works of modernization the Egyptian literature. El Kharrat, was also a political philosopher.


Mostafa Hussein

(1935 – 2014)

Author of the first edition Eminent caricature artist in Egypt 7, March 1935 -16, August 2014. In the 1980s, Hussein created the weekly cartoon magazine, Caricature, along with his fellow cartoonist Ahmed Toughan.