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.