Samia Gamal

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Samia Gamal
سامية جمال
Samia Gamal by Armand
Zeinab Ali Khalil Ibrahim Mahfouz

(1924-03-05)5 March 1924
Beni Suef, Egypt
Died1 December 1994(1994-12-01) (aged 70)[1]
Cairo, Egypt
Occupation(s)Actress and dancer
Years active1942–1963
(m. 1958; div. 1977)

Samia Gamal (Arabic: سامية جمال, born as Zaynab Khalil Ibrahim Mahfuz (Arabic: زينب خليل إبراهيم محفوظ), 5 March 1924 – 1 December 1994) was an Egyptian belly dancer and film actress.[2][3]


Born in the small Egyptian town of Wana in March 1924, Samia's family moved just months later to Cairo and settled near the Khan El-Khalili bazaar. It was many years later that Samia Gamal met Badia Masabni, the owner of a big Cairo nightclub back then. Badia offered Samia an invitation to join her dance company, which Samia accepted. Badia Masabni gave her the stage name Samia Gamal, and she began her dance career.

Samia Gamal and Farid Al-Attrach in the Egyptian film Afrita hanem (Genie Lady) (1949)

At first, she studied under Badia and Badia's star dancer at the time, Tahiya Karioka. However she soon became a respected soloist and brought forth her own style. Samia Gamal incorporated techniques from ballet and Latin dance into her solo performances. She was also the first to perform with high-heeled shoes on stage. She starred in dozens of Egyptian films next to the famous Farid Al Attrach. They could be thought of as the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of the Middle East. They not only played each other's love interest on the silver screen but also in real life. However, their love was not meant to be. Because of Farid's social position, he refused to marry Samia. Farid believed that marriage kills artist talent,[4] he never married. Some claim that Farid as a Druze prince, told her it would bring too much shame to his family for him to marry a belly dancer; but the claim is baseless. Farid helped place Samia on the National Stage by risking all he owned, and managed to borrow to produce a film (Habib al omr) co-starring with her in 1947.

Samia Gamal with her husband Shepherd King III in July 1954

In 1949, Egypt's King Farouk proclaimed Samia Gamal "The National Dancer of Egypt", which brought US attention to the dancer. In 1950, Samia came to the US and was photographed by Gjon Mili. She also performed in the Latin Quarter, New York's trendy nightclub. She later married the so-called "Texas millionaire" Shepherd King III, whom, it was later reported only had about $50,000. However, their marriage did not last long.[5]

Samia Gamal, 1950

In 1958, Samia Gamal married Rushdy Abaza, one of the most famous Egyptian actors with whom Samia starred in a number of films, notably the box-office hit The Second Man (1959) alongside Egypt's iconic actor Salah Zulfikar, one of the most famous Egyptian actors, and Sabah, famous actress and singer and directed by the legendary Egyptian film director Ezz El-Dine Zulficar, this film became an Egyptian masterpiece and the most notable role in Samia Gamal's cinematic career. In 1972, she stopped dancing when she was nearly in her 50s but began again after given advice by Samir Sabri. She then danced until the early 1980s.

Samia Gamal died on 1 December 1994, at 70 years of age in Cairo. Samia's charismatic performances in Egyptian and international films gave Egypt's Oriental Dance recognition and admiration in Egypt and worldwide.


On 5 March 2017, Google dedicated a Doodle to the actress for the 93rd anniversary of her birth. The Doodle reached all the countries of the Arab World.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Qasim, Mahmud (2004). Mawsuat al-Mumaththil fi al-Sinima al-Arabiyah. Qahirah: Maktabat Madbuli. p. 202. ISBN 977-208-965-3.
  2. ^ "Samia Gamal: Barefooted belly dancer". EgyptToday. 2017-12-05. Retrieved 2023-03-30.
  3. ^ "Remembering Samia Gamal: Egypt's iconic belly dancer - Screens - Arts & Culture". Ahram Online. Retrieved 2023-03-30.
  4. ^ "Remembering Farid al-Atrash - Al Jadid".
  5. ^ "ET commemorates Egypt's butterfly Samia Gamal on her death anniversary". Egypt Today. 1 December 2021.
  6. ^ "Samia Gamal's 93rd Birthday". 5 March 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.

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