Leila Mourad

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Leila Mourad
ليلى مراد
Layla Mourad in 1947.
Layla Mourad in 1947.
Background information
Birth nameLilian Zaki Ibrahim Mourad [1]
Born(1918-02-17)February 17, 1918
Cairo, Egypt
DiedNovember 21, 1995(1995-11-21) (aged 77)
Cairo, Egypt
GenresEgyptian music
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active1934–1963

Leila Mourad or Layla Morad (Arabic: ليلى مراد; February 17, 1918 – November 21, 1995) was an Egyptian singer and actress, and one of the most prominent superstars in Egypt and the entire Arab world in her era. Born Lilian Zaki Ibrahim Mourad to an Egyptian Jewish family in the El Daher District in Cairo, she later changed her name to Leila Mourad as a stage-name.[2] Leila married three times and divorced three times. She died in 1995.


Leila Mourad was born on February 17, 1918, to Zaki Mourad and Gamilah Ibrahim Roushou, the daughter of Ibrahim Roushou, a local concert contractor in the early 20th century who regularly booked Zaki Mourad to sing at concerts and wedding parties.[3][4][5][6] Her father was a respected singer, musician, and religious Jewish cantor (Hazzan). One of her brothers, Mounir Mourad, was an actor and composer.

She made her first stage appearance, aged nine, at the Saalat Badi'a, one of Cairo's most successful Music Halls. The theatre had been founded in 1926 by the actress and dancer Badia Masabni, who became Mourad's patron.[7] Her first film appearance, aged fifteen, was in the 1932 " Al-Dahaaya " (The Victims) which had originally been made as a silent film. Her song, The Day of Departure, was added as part of the transformation of the production into a "talkie".[8]

She was trained by her father and Dawood Hosni, who was also Jewish. Hosni had composed the first operetta in the Arabic language, and he composed two songs for Leila: Hairana Leh Bein El-Eloub (Why can't you choose from among lovers), and Howa el dala'a ya'ani khessam (Does daliance mean avoiding me?). Further success came when the prominent Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab heard her singing and gave her a role in his film Yahia el Hob (Viva Love!) in 1938. In the six years following the success of Yahia el Hob she made five best selling films with director Togo Mizrahi, becoming Egypt's top actress. In 1945 she made Layla Bint al-Fuqara ("Layla, daughter of the poor") directed by Anwar Wagdi whom she married shortly after. She went on to make a further 20 films of which the most outstanding is Ghazel el-Banat ("The Flirtation of Girls"), also directed and co-starring Wagdi. It also featured Nagib al-Rihani and Abdel Wahab in their last appearances on film.[9]

Layla holding a photo of Egypt's President Mohamed Naguib, circa 1953.
A letter written by the Egyptian Army general command denying the allegations held against Layla, October 27, 1952.

In 1953, she was selected, over Umm Kulthum, as the official singer of the Egyptian revolution[citation needed]. Shortly thereafter, a rumor that Mourad had visited Israel, where she had family, and donated money to its military, raised suspicions of spying and caused some Arab radio stations to boycott her. She denied these allegations .[10] No proof was found that she had contributed money to Israel's military; the Egyptian government investigated and concluded that the charges against the singer were without foundation.

Her decision to retire, aged 38, came with the failure of her last film, Al Habib al Majhoul (The Unknown Lover), the banning of her song, With Unity, Order, and Work, praising the Free Officers 1952 revolution and the outbreak of the 1956 war.[11] Despite the immense popularity of her films her singing career was over-shadowed by Um Kulthum who dominated Egypt's musical landscape and, in 1949, had become president of the Musicians' Union. In the early 1950s other singers also popular with younger audiences, such as Abdel al Halim Hafez, did not get the same exposure on the radio as Um Kulthum.[12]

Leila Mourad's relationship with her family was not an easy one, possibly due to money . She didn't change her name and religion on her identity card . Between 1967 and 1970, hundreds of Egyptian Jewish males were deported to the prisons of Abu Zaabal and Tora, including one of Leila's brothers, Isak Zaki. Families of the detainees were allowed to visit beginning in 1968, and some noted that Leila was never seen visiting her brother.[citation needed]

Leila Mourad made a few brief reappearances during Ramadan in 1970, when she was scheduled to read Salah Jaheen's "Fawazeer Ramadan" (Ramadan' puzzles), a daily traditional radio program held during the Holy month of Ramadan.

Leila Mourad died in a Cairo hospital in 1995.


Leila Mourad married Anwar Wagdi (married 1945 – divorced 1953), over the objection of her father. She married him and divorced. Leila gave the reason for her divorce as the fact that she was not fully aware of the seriousness of Wagdi's illness, one that made him constantly irritable and difficult to live with. Later she married secretly Wagih Abaza (married 1955 – divorced 1956) and gave birth to Ashraf Wagih Abaza and divorced . Then she married a film director Fatin Abdel Wahab 1957 and she gave birth to their son Zaki Fatin Abdel Wahab, and finally divorced in 1969.[citation needed]


Layla with Youssef Wahbi.

Almost all of Laila Mourad's most popular songs are from her musical films.

  • "Yama Arak El-Nasim" (How Calm the Breeze is) from Yahya El-Hob (1938)
  • "Ghany Ya Tair" (Sing, Bird) from Laila Bint Madares (1941)
  • "Meen Yishtary El-Ward Minni" (Who Will But Flowers From Me?) from Laila (1942)
  • "El-Habib" (The Lover) from Laila (1942)
  • "Hagabt Noorak Anny" (You've Hidden Your Light From Me) from Laila (1942)
  • "Elli fi Albo Haga Yis'alny" (Whoever Has Something In Their Heart, Tell Me) from Laila, Daughter of the Poor (1945)
  • "Leila Gameelah" (What a Beautiful Night!) from Laila, Daughter of the Poor (1945)
  • "Ehna El-Etnein" (The Two Of Us) from Laila, Daughter of the Poor (1945)
  • "Monaya fi Korbak" (I Wish to be By Your Side) from Al-Madi Al-Majhoul (1946)
  • "Enta Sa'ida" (Good Day) from Alby Dalili (1947)
  • "Edhak Karkar" (Laugh and Chuckle) from Alby Dalili (1947)
  • "Alby Dalili" (My Heart is My Guide) from Alby Dalili (1947)
  • "Sa'alt Aleh" (I Asked About Him) from Anbar (1948)
  • "Dous Al-Donya" (Step on the World) from Anbar (1948)
  • "Etmakhtary Ya Kheil" (Trot, My Horse) from Ghazal El-Banat (1949)
  • "El Hob Gameel" (Love Is Beautiful) from Ghazal El-Banat (1949)
  • "Abgad Hawaz" (The ABC's) from Ghazal el-Banat (1949)
  • "Einy Betref" (My Eye Wanders) a duet with the Egyptian actor "Naguib AlRaihani", from Ghazal El-Banat (1949)
  • "El Donya Ghenwa" (The World is a Song) from Ghazal el-Banat (1949)
  • "Ya Msafer W Nasy Hawak" (Traveller, You Have Forgotten Your Heart) from Shati' Al-Gharam (1950)
  • "El-Maya Wel Hawa" (The Water and the Wind) from Shati' Al-Gharam (1950)
  • "Ya Aaz Min Einy" (Dearer Than My Eyes) from Shati' Al-Gharam (1950)
  • "Hakak Alaya" (It's My Fault) from Habib Al-Rouh (1951)
  • "Es'al Alaya" (Ask About Me) from Al-Hayat Al-Hob (1954)
  • "Otlob Enaya" (Ask for my Eyes) from Al-Hayat Al-Hob (1954)
  • "Leh Khaletni Ahebbak" (Why Did You Let Me Love You) from Al-Habib Al-Majhoul (1955)
  • "Bil Nizam Wal-Amal Wal-Etihad" (With Order, Work, and Unity) (1953) An anthem for the Egyptian Revolution that was commissioned by the new government led by President Mohamed Naguib. This song was banned when Gemal Abdelnasser ousted Naguib.
  • "Sanatein W Ana Ahayel Feek" (For Two Years I've Waited For You)

Laila Mourad has starred in 27 film between 1938 and 1955. This list does not include her appearance in El-Dahaya (The Victims) (1935) in which she only recorded songs for the film, but did not actually appear in it.

Name English Translation Co-Star Release Date Director
Yahya El-Hob Viva Love! Mohammed Abdel Wahab January 24, 1938 Mohammed Karim
Fi Laila Momtera On a Rainy Night Youssef Wahbi October 12, 1939 Togo Mizrahi
Laila Bint Elreef Laila the Village Girl Youssef Wahbi January 2, 1941 Togo Mizrahi
Laila Bint Madares Laila the Schoolgirl Youssef Wahbi October 16, 1941 Togo Mizrahi
Laila Laila (Dame of the Camelias) Hussein Sidky April 2, 1942 Togo Mizrahi
Laila fil Zalam Laila in the Dark Hussein Sidky February 24, 1944 Togo Mizrahi
Shohada'a Al-Gharam Martyrs of Love Ibrahim Hammouda October 19, 1944 Kamal Selim
Laila Bint El-Foqara'a Laila, Daughter of the Poor Anwar Wagdi November 5, 1945 Anwar Wagdi
Laila Bint El-Aghniya Laila, Daughter of the Rich Anwar Wagdi October 28, 1946 Anwar Wagdi
Almadi Almajhoul Unknown Past Ahmad Salem April 8, 1946 Ahmad Salem
Darbat Al-Qadr Stroke of Luck Youssef Wahbi January 13, 1947 Youssef Wahbi
Khatem Suleiman Suleiman's Ring Zaki Rostom February 17, 1947 Hassan Ramzy
Shadiat Al-Wady Songstress of the Valley Youssef Wahbi April 7, 1947 Youssef Wahbi
Alby Dalili My Heart is My Guide Anwar Wagdi October 6, 1947 Anwar Wagdi
Alhawa Wal Shabab Love and Youth Anwar Wagdi January 5, 1948 Niazi Mostafa
Anbar Amber Anwar Wagdi November 1, 1948 Anwar Wagdi
Al-Majnuna The Madwoman Mohamed Fawzi January 31, 1949 Helmy Rafla
Ghazal al-Banat The Flirtation of Girls Naguib el-Rihani September 22, 1949 Anwar Wagdi
Shati' Al-Gharam The Shore of Love Hussein Sidky February 20, 1950 Henry Barakat
Adam wa Hawa'a Adam and Eve Hussein Sidky May 7, 1951 Hussein Sidky
Habib Al-Rouh Soulmate Anwar Wagdi October 8, 1951 Anwar Wagdi
Ward Al-Gharam Flowers of Love Mohamed Fawzi December 10, 1951 Henry Barakat
Min Al-Qalb Lal-Qalb Heart to Heart Kamal el-Shennawi February 26, 1952 Henry Barakat
Sayidat Al-Qitar Lady of the Train Yehia Chahine August 28, 1952 Youssef Chahine
Bint El-Akaber Daughter of the Great Anwar Wagdi February 9, 1953 Anwar Wagdi
Al-Hayat Al-Hob Life is Love Yehia Chahine April 5, 1954 Seifeddine Shawkat
Al-Habib Al-Majhoul The Unknown Lover Hussein Sidky May 23, 1955 Hassan Al-Saify


The Ramadan television series " Ana Albi Dalili " (named after one of her songs), about the life of Leila Mourad, debuted in 2009. It is an Egyptian production headed by Syrian director Muhamad Zuhair Rajab. Jordanian actress Safa Sultan plays Leila Mourad. Egypt's Ahmed Falawkas portrays Anwar Wagdi. Ezzat Abou Aouf, an Egyptian actor, portrays Zaki Mourad and Egyptian actress Hala Fakher portrays Miriam, the aunt of Leila Mourad.[13]


  1. ^ "ET commemorates birth anniversary of legendary Leila Mourad". February 18, 2019.
  2. ^ Lagrange, Frederic (2001). Musiques D'egypte (in French). France - Egypt. pp. 132–133.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ "منير مراد.. التهميش والطائفة والترفيه". جريدة الرياض (in Arabic). Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  4. ^ Zaki, Tawfiq Abdel Hamid (1993). "Family Musical Groups. (AR: أسر موسيقية)". The contemporary pioneers of the arabic music (AR: المعاصرون من رواد الموسيقى العربية). Egypt - The Middle East.: The General Egyptian Book Organization. pp. 83–86.
  5. ^ Laila Murad the daughter of the famous Egyptian Jewish composer Zaki Mourad
  6. ^ "ET commemorates birth anniversary of legendary Leila Mourad". Mourad was born to Ibrahim Zaki Mourad Mordechai and Gamilah Salmon. Her father, an Egyptian Jew, was a respected singer, musician, and religious Jewish cantor, Hazzan. Her mother was a Jewish Egyptian of Polish Jewish origins.
  7. ^ Danielson, Virginia (1977) The Voice of Egypt. Umm Kulthum, Arabic song, and Egyptian society in the twentieth century. AUC Press, Cairo. ISBN 977 424 386 2. pp.48,67
  8. ^ Darwish, Mustafa (1998) Dream Makers on the Nile. A Portrait of Egyptian Cinema. AUC Press, Cairo. ISBN 977 424 429X. p.24
  9. ^ Darwish. pp.24,25
  10. ^ Beinin, Joel (1998). The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry. University of California Press. 1st edition. p. 84.
  11. ^ Darwish. p.24
  12. ^ Danielson. p.120
  13. ^ Bizawe, Eyal Sagui. "The return of Cinderella." Haaretz. October 1, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2013.

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