Soheir Zaki performs in a scene from the 1978 Egyptian film ‘Sultana al Tarab’ (سلطانة الطرب) which tells the story of the rise to fame of Egyptian singer Mounira el Mahdeya ( منيرة المهدية). Egyptian actress/singer Sharifa Fadel plays el Mahdeya who was born in 1885 and died in 1965. Despite starting her career singing and dancing in local coffee houses, Mounira el Mahdeya went on to be considered the greatest female Egyptian singer prior to Umm Kolthum. Her style of singing was referred to as ‘Ottoman’, the Turks having been in control of Egypt for 300 years up to the 1880s. She initially appeared on stage only in male roles as at that time in Egypt female acting roles were taken by Christian or Jewish actresses or as a last resort by male actors.
Alexandrian born dancer and actress Hayatem in a nightclub scene from ‘Intabihu Ayyuha Al Sada’ (Beware, Gentlemen) which starred Mahmoud Yassin, Hussein Fahmi, Nahed Sharif and Kareem Abdul Aziz. Filmed in 1978 but not released until 1980, the movie tells the story of an engaged couple who’re looking for a flat (apartment) in Cairo. Jalal’s a university professor and Ayda is his fiancée. By chance they meet Antar who used to remove the rubbish from the local mosque but who’s now wealthy. Ayda’s mother considers Antar to be a better match for her daughter as he is rich, unlike the professor. Over the course of the film she persuades her daughter to ditch the professor and marry Antar. In the final scene Antar and his new bride, the professor’s former fiancée, leave their wedding reception at a nightclub in Pyramid Road and they’re confronted by the professor. In this scene we see that the professor has lost not only his fiancée but also his sanity. To quote Relli Shechter “His professorship at Cairo University and the five philosophy books he has written are of no use when he needs to buy an apartment.”
*Relli Shechter ‘Consumerism and Its Malcontents in the Emergence of Egyptian Market Society’ Published in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, April 2009