Famous Egyptian People: Egyptian Artists, Scientists, Leaders, Musicians, Politicians and Athletes
In this Country Profile
Egypt is famous for its magnificent cultural heritage, for the greatest civilization the world has ever known! Egypt guarantees to impress you with its enchanting and fascinating cities, splendid architecture, rich history, spectacular pyramids, but what would be great Egypt without its great kings, dynamic leaders, brilliant writers and poets, famous inventors and artists? Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Constantine the Great, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, Ptolemaeus are only some of the names that shaped the Egypt. There are also many contemporary Egyptians who are worldwide renowned. These people of purpose made a difference and inspired us to greatness.
:: List of Famous People from Egypt ::
He was born in Zagazig, Egypt, in 1929 and died in London, United Kingdom, in 2005. He was an Egyptian novelist and one of the most relevant Egyptian playwrights of the post 1952 Revolution period; he played an important role in the renaissance of theatre in the sixties and in the introduction of theatre in the Egyptian provinces through the “Mass culture” project. He wrote more than fifty playwrights –the first was “Fall of pharaoh” in 1957- and several short stories and novels such as “The story of the lost time” in 1977 and “The days and nights of Sindbad” in 1988. Some of his works were translated into English and German. In 1973, he was banned from writing for national media and his plays were suspended, which led him to exile in Algeria and then London, until the late eighties. He received several honors and awards such as the First Incentive Award; the National Award for Playwriting in 1965; the Science and Arts Medal of the First Order in 1967; the Egyptian State Merit Award in 1993; and the Jerusalem Award by the General Union for the Arab Writers in 2002, which was very meaningful since he was the first Egyptian to receive such a prize. He was buried in Alexandria.
Abbas I of Egypt:
He was born in Jeddah, Hejaz, in 1812, then brought up in Egypt, and died in Banha, Egypt, in 1854. In 1848, he became the successor of Ibrahim Pasha, his uncle, in the government of Egypt and Sudan, which made him the founder of the reigning dynasty of both countries. He was Muhammad Ali’s grandson and Tusun Pasha’s son. He allowed the construction of the railway from Alexandria to Cairo. He received several honors such as the order of the August Portrait of the Ottoman Empire; the Order of Glory of the Ottoman Empire (1849); the Order of Nobility, first class of Ottoman Empire (1853); and the Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus of Kingdom of Sardinia. He was killed by two of his slaves in 1854.
“Be it known that we, the greatest, are miss thought.”
Queen Cleopatra of Egypt is the most well known of all the ancient Egyptian queens. Her story is one of epic proportions. She was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, a brilliant and powerful woman. She was renowned for her political dealings with ancient Rome and made a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. After Caesar’s assassination, she aligned with Mark Antony, the father of her children. The history of Cleopatra is one that has been the subject of novels and movies and is filled with deception, intrigue and romance. Mysterious and intrigant, Cleopatra is considered one of the most prominent and powerful figures in history.
Amr Diab is a famous Egyptian singer and composer, one of the highest selling Middle Eastern artists of all time. He achieved worldwide fame in 1988 with his wildly successful album Mayaal. Amr Diab was awarded “The World Music Award” 3 times; 1998, 2002 and 2007. “Habibi” and “Tamally Maak” are some of his songs that became phenomenal hits worldwide. His top selling albums in a prolific recording career have established him as the super star of the Arab World.
Farouk I of Egypt:
“And if it is God’s will to lay on my shoulders at such an early age the responsibility of kingship, I on my part appreciate the duties that will be mine, and I am prepared for all sacrifices in the cause of my duty… My noble people, I am proud of you and your loyalty and am confident in the future as I am in God. Let us work together. We shall succeed and be happy. Long live the Fatherland!”
He was born in the Abdeen Palace in Cairo, Egypt, in 1920 and died in Rome, Italy, in 1965. Known as “His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur”, he was the penultimate King of Egypt and Sudan, son and successor of King Fuad I and son of Queen Nazli Sabri. He was the tenth sovereign of Muhammad Ali’s dynasty. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, his son Ahmed Fuad succeeded him on power as King Fuad II. He was the brother of Princess Fawzia Fuad, who was the first wife and Queen Consort of the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He was very controversial and criticized because of his luxurious lifestyle in a poor place where people died of hunger. The corruption of his government earned him the nickname of “The thief of Cairo”. He passed his last days exiled in Italy and he died in Rome.
Ptolemy (in English) was the foremost astronomer of ancient times, as well as a brilliant mathematician, geographer and astrologer. “He codified the Greek geocentric view of the universe, and rationalized the apparent motions of the planets as they were known in his time”. Ptolemy knew that the Earth is a sphere. The Almagest, one of his most important works, is the earliest of Ptolemy’s works and gives in detail the mathematical theory of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Ptolemy is considered the father of geography.
Euclid was a prominent mathematician of antiquity best known for his treatise on mathematics “The Elements” and is often referred to as the Father of Geometry. Euclid is one of the most influential and best read mathematician of all time.
His work Elements is the most successful textbook in the history of mathematics and his method of proving mathematical theorems by logical deduction from accepted principles remains the backbone of all mathematics. The “Elements” began with definitions, postulates (“Euclid’s postulates”), then proceeded to obtain results by rigorous geometric proof. Euclid also proved what is generally known as Euclid’s second theorem: the number of primes is infinite.
Naguib Mahfouz was a distinguished Egyptian novelist. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1988 was awarded to Naguib Mahfouz “who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind” He was the first Arabic writer to be so honored. Naguib Mahfouz, one of the powerhouse writers of Arabic literature, is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literature to explore themes of existentialism. He is one of the few modern Arabic novelists to achieve a truly international status.
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was one of the most successful military commanders of all time and is presumed undefeated in battle. Known also as Alexander III of Macedon, the military genius was an inspiration for later conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and
Caesar, and Napoleon.
Against overwhelming odds, Alexander the Great led his army to victories. He conquered the entire Persian Empire, from the Aegean Sea to India and around the Mediterranean to Egypt, Syria and Egypt without suffering a single defeat, he inspired loyalty and by the time of his death, he had conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks. His greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaugamela. He became Great King of Persia at the age of 25. The power of his ideas reinvented each society in the mold of his own vision for a new world. The world he touched was transformed!
Umm Kalthum (Fatmal-Zahraa Ibrahim)
Umm Kalthum was an outstanding Egyptian singer, songwriter, and actress, often regarded as the “Diva of the Arab song” or “the Star of the East”. Even after her sad death, Umm Kalthum is still recognized as the Arab world’s most famous and distinguished singer of the 20th century. She is renowned for her ability to sing every single Arabic scale. Her voice’s unique and breathtaking beauty surpasses convention. She recorded over 300 songs, most famous are al-Atlal, Raqqu l-Habib, Inta umri, and Fakarouni.
Youssef Chahine is one of Egypt’s most acclaimed movie directors who was active in the Egyptian film industry since 1950 until 2008. His “films over nearly five decades often went on Fellini-esque flights of fancy and tackled social ills and Islamic fundamentalism.”
As the greatest Arab filmmaker of all time, Youssef Chahine, has made about 40 films and had his reach to wider international filmgoers’ audiences as one of the co-directors of 11’9?01 September 11.
Ahmed Hassan Zewail was born in Damanhour, Egypt, in 1946 and he became an American citizen in 1982. He is an Egyptian-American scientist and professor whose research on the dynamics of chemical reactions on real time leaded to the birth of a new branch of chemistry, the femtochemistry, which is the study of chemical reactions across femtoseconds. For his research and discovering he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999, becoming the third Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize. He has also received the Grand Collar of the Nile in 1999, which is Egypt’s highest state honor, as well as several awards such as the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1993, the Tolman Medal in 1997 and the Robert A. Welch Award in 1997. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and he has received important recognitions from different universities such as the PhD Honoris Causa from Lund University, the Honorary Doctorate in Science from Cambridge University, the PhD Honoris Causa from Complutense University of Madrid and an honorary PhD in arts and sciences from the University of Jordan. Currently, he is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and he will participate in the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) of President Barack Obama.
Muhammad Anwar El Sadat
Muhammad Anwar El Sadat was born in Mit Abu al-Kum, al-Minufiyah, Egypt, in 1918 and he died in Cairo in 1981. He was an Egyptian politician, soldier and the third President of Egypt from October 1970, when he was vice-president and succeeded President Gamal Abdel Nasser after his death, to October 1981. Before being president, and after Egypt’s defeat on the first was against Israel in 1948, he joined Nasser’s Free Officers Group. He was against the western influence on Egypt and he believed in the Arab nationalism. As the President of Egypt, he leaded the Yom Kippur War in 1973, in which Syria and Egypt attacked Israel on the holiest day in Judaism, and were close to winning but finally lost. After that defeat, Anwar El Sadat stopped fighting for Arab unity and against Israel, broke off his alliance with the Soviet Union, got closer to the United States and started working for Egypt’s development. He visited Israel and signed the Isreal-Egypt Peace Treaty, with which Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a long-lasting peace with Israel. Anwar El Sadat and Menájem Beguin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. He was killed by Islamists during a parade in October 1981. His son received the Medal of Freedom on his behalf in 1984. One of his quotes: “He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality, and will never therefore make any progress”.
Karam Ibrahim Gaber was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1979. He is an Egyptian Greco-Roman wrestler who became the second Egyptian to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the Summer Olympic Games (the first one was in 1928). He won this gold medal in the Men’s Greco-Roman 96kg at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and he also won a silver medal at the 2003 World Championships. Although he didn’t qualify for the quarter finals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijin, he was Egypt’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the games.
Mohamed Al Fayed
Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1933. He is a multimillionaire Egyptian businessman who lives in Britain and whose fortune has been estimated to be of £850 million. He is the owner of Harrods, a famous department store in Knightsbridge, and of the English Premiership football team Fulham Football Club. He has five children, four with his current wife, the Finnish former model Heini Wathén, and one of his first marriage. This oldest child of him was Dodi Fayed, who was the lover of Diana, Princess of Wales, with whom he died in a car accident in Paris in 1997 along with Henri Paul, the car driver and an employee at the Hôtel Ritz Paris, which was a property of Fayed. After rumors of the accident being a plan of the royal family, in 2008, Mohamed Al Fayed accused Prince Phillip and Prince Charles of killing Princess Diana because of Prince Charles’ anger about Diana’s romance with Dodi.
Khadr El Touni
Khadr Sayed El Touni was born in Egypt in 1915 and died in 1956 by electrical shock while making a home repair. He was an Egyptian weightlifter who won the middleweight class gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, and he is considered to be the man who put Egypt on the map of world sports. Until 1996 in the Olympic Games of Atlanta, El Touni was at the top of the International Weightlifting Federation’s list of history’s 50 greatest weightlifters. At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, El Touni was personally congratulated by Hitler, who was amazed by his performance (he beat two Germans in Germany) and told him he wish he was German. Hitler named a street after El Touni in Berlin. El Touni couldn’t participate in the 1940 and 1944 Olympics because of World War II, but he was did so in the 1948 Olympics in which he didn’t do very well due to an illness that required surgery right after the Olympic Games ended. He’s a very much loved figure in Egypt for all he represents in the world of sports for this country.
He was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1979 and he is a professional left-hander squash player. In 2006 he became the first Egyptian to be at the top of the world’s best squash players ranking and he remained in that spot until Karim Darwish took his place in 2008. He is a four-time winner of the World Open, in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
He was born in 1981 in Cairo, Egypt. He is an Egyptian professional squash player and he is, currently, the world’s best squash player, occupying the position that the Egyptian Amr Shabana held from 2006 to 2008. He won the World Junior Championship title in the year 2000 and the British Junior Open title in 1999; as a professional player, in 2008, he won four major titles including the 2008 Saudi International.
Gamal El-Ghitani was born in Sohag Governorate, Egypt, in 1945. He is an Egyptian writer whose works are characterized by their political and cultural ideas, and are considered to be historical fiction novels. He went to jail from 1966 to 1967 for criticizing the regime of Gamal Abd el-Nasser. Since 1993, he is the editor-in-chief of Akhbar Al-adab (“Cultural News”), which is one of Egypt’s main literary magazines. He helped found the literary magazine “Gallery 68” in his purpose of promoting the Arab literary culture. He received the Egyptian National Prize for Literature in 1980, he was awarded with the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres in 1987 and, in 2005, he received one of the prime French awards for non-French authors, the French Award for translated literature “Laure Bataillon”.
Meriam George was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1987. She is a model and beauty queen and has represented Egypt in several beauty pageants such as Miss Universe 2005; Miss Intercontinental 2005, in which she was a semifinalist; and Miss Earth 2006, in which she was among the eight finalists. She held the title of Pantene Miss Egypt 2005 at the age of eighteen. She wants to be a business woman or a television presenter.
Everybody has to chip in, I think, and see how we can have a functioning system of collective security where we do not continue to face the threat of countries trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction or particularly nuclear weapons.
Mohamed Mostafa ElBaradei was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1942. He’s an important Egyptian diplomat who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations of which he was the Director General between 1997 and 2009 (he served for two periods). He worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt.
He’s been very involved in the nuclear weapon situation of Iran and North Korea, and he opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 assuring that the country didn’t have Uranium, as George W. Bush had stated. He’s currently a member of the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law. Some opposition leaders and groups have mentioned ElBaradei as a possible successor of the current President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, arguing that the Nobel winner could lead the country to a greater democracy. ElBaradei hasn’t made very clear if he’ll run for presidency, but he has asked for guarantees that ensure fair elections in Egypt. He’s received numerous awards for his efforts ensuring that nuclear energy is not used for war and violence, but for peaceful purposes.
He was born in 1341 BC and died in 1323 BC. He was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who reigned between 1333 BC and 1324 BC, which was a period of Egyptian history known as “New Kingdom”. His name means “Living image of Amun” (his original name was Tutankhaten, which meant “Living image of Aten”). Today, he’s known as the most famous Egyptian pharaoh. However, the size of his tomb could mean that he wasn’t very important at his time. For over 3.300 years, Tutankhamun remained in his grave in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings until, in 1922, the tomb was found by the British Egyptologist, Howard Carter. The discovery of the ancient pharaoh’s intact tomb with numerous treasures, jewels, utensils, weapons and pieces of furniture was crucial in the research and the understanding of the Egyptian Civilization. This important discovery was covered by the world’s press and renewed the public’s interest in Ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun’s burial mask is the most famous and popular image and symbol of the art of Ancient Egypt, and it’s also said to be worth nearly as much as the Crown jewels. Young Tutankhamun was the last royal blood pharaoh of the dynasty.
Ptolemy I Soter:
He was born in the ancient kingdom of Macedon (now Greece) in the year 367 BC and died in Alexandria, Egypt, in 283 BC. Also known as Ptolemy the Savior, he was a Macedonian Greek general and Diadochi who became King of Egypt and founded both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was one of the most trusted generals working for Alexander the Great and was the ruler of Egypt between the years 323 BC and 283 BC. Later, in 305 BC, he proclaimed himself Pharaoh and King of Egypt. He was the founder of the Ancient Library of Alexandria (or Royal Library of Alexandria), which is the most famous and one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. The great mathematician Euclid was sponsored by Ptolemy I Soter. It is believed that Aristotle was his tutor. There’s a bust of Ptolemy I in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Muhammad Ali of Egypt:
His original name was Muhammad Ali Pasha al-Mas’ud ibn Agha. He was born in Kavala, Macedon (now Greece), in 1769 and died in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1849. Originally from Albania, he was a soldier and wali (governor of an administrative division during the Ottoman Empire) who then became ruler of Egypt and Sudan, and founder of a new dynasty that reigned both countries until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. He was considered a brilliant soldier and then became the most powerful man in Egypt. He’s considered the founder of modern and independent Egypt, since he made drastic reforms in different aspects of the country (military, cultural and economic reforms); gave the region more independence and autonomy regarding the Great Powers and the Ottoman Empire; and considerably expanded the geographical borders. He modernized the armed forces and the administration. He retired from office in 1848 and was succeeded by his son, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. He received several honors such as the order of the August Portrait of Ottoman Empire; the Order of Glory, 1st Class of Ottoman Empire; and the Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur of France. He’s buried in the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha (or Alabaster Mosque) in the Citadel of Cairo.
Her full name was Neferu Aten Nefertiti; she was born around the year 1370 BC and died around 1330 BC. She held many titles such as “Mistress of Sweetness”, “Heiress”, “Exuding Happiness”, “Great of Favours”, “Beloved one”, “Lady of the two lands”, “Possessed of Cham”, “Shooting the King’s heart in his house”, “soft-spoken in all”, “Great King’s Wife”, among others. She was a Great Queen of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt and the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten; she is considered the second most famous queen of Ancient Egypt in the western imagination (after Cleopatra) as well as the symbol of “the most beautiful woman in the world”, having influenced the feminine beauty standards of the 20th Century. Nefertiti and her husband, the Pharaoh, worshiped only one God, Aten, which led to the beginning of a new religious revolution. Her Egyptian name means “Goodness of Aten, the beauty has come”. Apart from her beauty, she played a very important political and religious role in the development of the Amarna experience. An iconic bust of Nefertiti has made her as famous as she is today and is displayed in the Neues Museum as part of the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection (the bust is attributed to the sculptor Thutmose).
She was born in the year 1508 BC and died in 1458 BC. She was a Pharaoh Queen of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the fifth Pharaoh of that Dynasty, and she’s considered one of the most successful pharaohs, since she reigned for more time than any other woman of all the Egyptian Dynasties (between around 1479 BC and 1457 BC). Her name means “Foremost of Noble Ladies”. She has generated a lot of controversy in all the literature dedicated to Ancient Egypt, since there are many different perceptions of what she represented as a Queen and as a woman (some think she was a very ambitious woman that used to want power above all, some others think she was really devoted to peace…). There’s a statue of Hatsheptsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Met, in New York City.
He was born around the year 1300 BC and died in 1213 BC. Also known as Ramesses the Great and as Ozymandias (by the Greeks), he was the third Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, and is considered by many as the greatest, most powerful and most famous Egyptian Pharaoh of any dynasty. He was succeeded by his thirteenth son, Merneptah. He died in the year 1213 BC and his original tomb was located in the Valley of the Kings, but he was then transferred to a royal cache, where his tomb was discovered later, in 1881. His body is on display in the Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. There also a bust of Ramesses II at the British Museum in London.
Farida of Egypt:
She was originally born as Safinaz Hanim Zulfikar in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1921 and died in Cairo, Egypt, in 1988. She was the Queen of Egypt and the first wife of King Farouk I of Egypt, from whom she got divorced after eleven years of marriage of being unable to engender a male child who could become the heir of the throne. After getting the divorce she lived in Lebanon and Paris, and finally returned to Egypt but never got married again. She was a painter and has personal exhibitions in the United States and Europe. She was the president of the Red Crescent Society, the honorary president of the Feminist Union and the New Woman Alliance, as well as the patron of the Egyptian Girl Guide Company. She died of leukemia when she was 68 years old and she was buried in her family’s crypt in Cairo.
“Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not fine yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labor to make all one glow or beauty and never cease chiseling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendor of virtue, until you see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.”
He was born in Lycopolis, Egypt, in the year 204 or 205 CE and he died in Rome, Italy, in 270 or 271 CE. He was a very important Egyptian philosopher of the ancient world who is considered one of the most influential philosophers in antiquity after Plato and Aristotle. Along with his teacher Ammonius Saccas, he is widely regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism, an influential philosophy in late antiquity that was considered to be a new phase in the development of the Platonic tradition. For centuries, his metaphysical writings have been an inspiration to Jewish, Christian, Pagan, Islamic and Gnostic mystics and metaphysicians. After being disappointed of many of his first teachers, he was very influenced by Ammonius Saccas, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Numenius and various Stoics.
“We rarely quote nowadays to appeal to authority… though we quote sometimes to display our sapience and erudition. Some authors we quote against. Some we quote not at all, offering them our scrupulous avoidance, and so make them part of our ”white mythology.” Other authors we constantly invoke, chanting their names in cerebral rituals of propitiation or ancestor worship.”
Born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1925, he’s an Egyptian American writer, professor and literary theorist who has written more than fifteen books and more than three hundred articles, essays and literary and cultural reviews. His works have been translated into sixteen different languages. He was the Emeritus Vilas Research Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1970 until his retirement in 1999. During his teaching career he has given hundreds of public lectures in several prestigious universities like Trinity College, Yale and the University of Washington, and in different countries such as France, Sweden, Germany, Japan, Austria, Australia and New Zealand. He has received many international honors and teaching awards among which are the Alumni Teaching Award and the Honors Program Teaching Award at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee; three Senior Fulbright Lectureships; two Guggenheim Fellowships; National Endowment for the Humanities grants; honorary degrees from the University of Uppsala in Sweden and the University of Giessen in Germany. He used to be the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Association of University Professors of English. Some of his essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He has written one novel called “The Changeling”. His most recent work is “In Quest of Nothing: Selected Essays, 1998-2008”, published in 2010.
“What will be said,
Of us after the deluge,
After the coming drowning, after the coming of anger,
What will be said of us poets and writers?”
(From the poem “Drink Delirium”, translated by Mona Anis and Nun Elmessiri).
He was born in 1932 and died in 1978. He was a famous Egyptian playwright, actor, poet and critic who was considered a legend and one of the most prominent representatives of Egyptian theatre during the late sixties and during the seventies. He was a teacher at the Academy of Theatrical Arts until the mid seventies. Among his literary works are eight plays, three dramatic adaptations, five collections of poems and four collections of essays. Although his writings and plays haven’t been translated into many languages, his poem “Drink delerium” was translated into English and one of his poetry collections, “Luzum Ma Yalzam”, was translated into Spanish by Spanish author Santiago Alba Rico together with Peruvian author Javier Barreda Jara under the name of “Hacer imprescindible lo que es necesario”. He wrote many literary articles for numerous literary publications in Egypt and the Arab world. His career as a teacher was interrupted due to his bouts of severe depression.
Abdel Rahman Badawi:
He was born in the village of Sharabas, Damietta Governorate, Egypt, in 1917 and died in 2002. He was a very important and influential Egyptian philosopher, poet, writer, professor and translator who is considered the first Egyptian existentialist philosopher and who is known as “the foremost master of Arab existentialism”. He was one of the most representative philosophical figures and scholars in Egypt in the twentieth century. He was a follower and was inspired by Martin Heidegger. He was awarded Mubarak’s Prize for letters. His first book was “Nietzsche”, published in 1939. He could write in Arabic, English, French, Spanish and German, and could read in Greek, Latin and Persian. Apart from being a very important thinker, he was also a creative writer who produced great poems such as “Death and genius”, “Song of a stranger”, “Worries of you” and “Nymphs and light”.
Hypatia of Alexandria:
She was born in Alexandria, Egypt, between the years 350 CE and 370 CE, and died in the same city in 415 CE. She was a very famous Egyptian-born Greek Neo-Platonist philosopher, scholar, mathematician and professor of the Ancient Greece. She taught mathematics, philosophy and astronomy. She was a follower of Plotinus. She’s the first female mathematician of whom there’s presently detailed and reliable knowledge. She made important contributions and developments in science (astronomy, geometry and algebra); she invented the hydrometer, created the charting of celestial bodies and improved the design of previous astrolabes, among other things. She was the daughter and student of Theon, the last known mathematician associated with the Museum of Alexandria. She was killed was killed by Christians when she was still young; she was a pagan who became famous as a martyr of science and as a symbol of the end of classical thinking due to the advances of Christianity. The following is a description of Hypatia written by the Christian historiographer Socrates Scholasticus in his “Ecclesiastical history”:
“There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.”
Pope Abraham of Alexandria:
“He whose Church we are building does not need the money of this world and is capable of helping us until we finish the job.”
Also known as Abraham the Syrian, he was a Syrian-born Egyptian Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the 10th century who is considered a saint by the Coptic Orthodox Church. He was the 62nd Pope of the Coptic Church and occupied this position between the years 975 CE and 978 CE. The Patriarch of Alexandria was famous for his goodness and love for the poor, and he donated a lot of resources to other people who needed them.
He was born in Mariotis, Egypt, in the year 294 and died in Scetes, Egypt, in 357. Called as the ancient Egyptian god Amun, he was an Egyptian saint and hermit, and one of the most venerated ascetics of the Nitrian Desert. Although there is no way of verifying it, it is believed that he was the first hermit to have a monastery at Nitrita, which was called Kellia. The Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches celebrate his feast on October 4, and the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates it on 20 Pashons.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria:
“His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world.” (Saint Catherine of Alexandria speaking about Christ after having discovered Him and decided that she wouldn’t marry anyone else since she had promised that she would only marry someone who surpassed her in beauty, intelligence, wealth and social status).
Also known as Saint Catherine of the Wheel and as The Great Martyr Saint Catherine, she was born in Alexandria, Egypt, around the year 282 CE and died in the same city around 305 CE. She was an Egyptian Christian saint, virgin and martyr of the early 4th Century who was known by her great intelligence and who was considered to be among the greatest philosophers, scholars and poets of that time. She was a pagan but then she converted to Christianity. The Roman Emperor Maximinus gave the order of torturing and killing her on the breaking wheel, but she had to be beheaded after, according to the legend, the wheel broke the moment she touched it. The wheel is now a symbol that is often behind her on her images. Her devoutness has been widely spread throughout Europe and her feast is celebrated on November 25th. The Catholic Church includes her among its list of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Based on the story of her life, as it is described in a diary that was found, in 2009, Pinewood Studios began the production of “Katherine of Alexandria”, a featured-length movie that will tell the story of the Saint.
Saint Dorothea of Alexandria:
Saint Dorothea of Alexandria died in Alexandria, Egypt, around the year 320 CE. Although not being part of the Roman Martyrology, she was an Egyptian woman who was considered and venerated as a virgin martyr due to the story of her life: she was beheaded by order of the Emperor Maximinus after having rejected his romantic propositions because of her Christian beliefs and her commitment to virginity. Though not being an official date, her feast is sometimes celebrated on February 6 since that’s the official date of Saint Dorothea of Caesarea’s feast, with whom she used to be confused.
Pope Demetrius of Alexandria:
He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on the 2nd Century and died in the year 232. Known as “the first Alexandrian bishop of whom anything is known”, he was the Patriarch of Alexandria between the years 189 and 232, occupying that position for forty three years, which constituted the longest episcopacy until that moment. He was preceded by Julian and succeeded by Heraclas.
Mary of Egypt:
She was born in Egypt in the year 344 CE and died in the Trans-Jordan dessert, Palestine, in 421 CE. Known as Saint Mary of Egypt and as Maria Aegyptica, she was considered by many as the patron saint of penitents, specially by the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Catholic, the Roman Catholic and the Anglican churches. Her story is known today because her biography was written by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem between the years 634 and 638; she was considered a prostitute by many, but the sexual favors that she used to do were only consequence of her nature, since she described herself as “driven by an insatiable desire and an irrepressible passion”. One day, when she tried to enter to a church she felt a force that kept her from going in, so she realized that she was impure, she converted, and she decided to live as an ascetic, and later went to the dessert to live as an hermit, taking with her only three pieces of bread. The Temple of Portunus in Rome, Italy, was preserved by being rededicated to Saint Mary of Egypt in the year 872. According to the Roman Catholic Church, her feast is on April 3.
Usermaatra Setepenamon Amenemopet was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty who reigned from the year 1001 BC to 992 BC. His father and predecessor was Psusennes I, and his mother was Queen Mutnodjemet. His name means “Amun in the Opet Feast”. The French Egyptologist Pierre Montet discovered both Psusennes I’s and Amenemope’s intact tombs in 1940 and he had to stop his excavations until 1946 due to World War II. In the tombs Montet found many treasures, jewelry, gold funerary masks, coffins and more. Amenemope’s funerary mask is in the Cairo Museum.
He was born in 1898 and died in 1953. Known as “AI Atlal Poet”, he was an Egyptian innovative poet and physician whose poems were transformed into songs that were sang by famous Egyptian singers like Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Om Kalthoom. Some of Nagi’s most famous poems are “Egypt”, “Autumn” and “AI Atlal” (or “The Ruins”), which has been considered by critics as one of the best twenty love poems in the history of Arabic poetry. He was a member of the Apollo Society, which was a literary group led by Ahmed Shawqi. He was a co founder of the Cairo Society for Romantic Poetry. The Egyptian author Abbas Mahmoud AI Aqqad described him as “the poet of sensitive emotions” and the Egyptian writer Taha Hussein said “He successes in the choice of words, meanings and techniques. He introduced new meanings that can be said to be magnificent. He is a glorious poet to whom the soul is habituated, the heart is inclined. His readers, sometimes, find him friendly and are entertained by listening to his poems”.
He was born in the village of Izbet el Kilo in the AI-Minya province, Upper Egypt, in 1889 and died in 1973. He was a very important Egyptian author and philosopher, a great figure of the contemporary Arabic literature and a pioneer of the Enlightenment who is considered one of the most influential and relevant Egyptian writers and intellectuals of the 20th Century. He was a figurehead of the modernist movement in Egypt. He was blinded at the age of three and still, after many problems, he managed to study in some of the best universities such as the Sorbonne in Paris, and received honorary doctorates from universities of Oxford, Rome and Madrid. He was a professor of history at the Egyptian University. In 1950 he became the Minister of Education of Egypt and he worked under the motto “Education is like water we drink and the air we breathe”, leading to a great development of education in his country. He received the highest Egyptian decoration from the country’s president Gamal Abd AI-Nasser and, in 1973, he received the United Nations Human Rights Award.
He was born in 1868 and died in 1932. He was a very important Egyptian poet, playwright, author, translator and Hispanist whose poetry is widely considered as the most prominent of Egypt in the 20th Century. As the pioneer of the modern Egyptian literary movement, he was recognized as one of the finest and most influential poets and dramatists in Arabic language. He was influenced by French plays of playwrights like Molière and Racine. He was exiled in Spain for several years in which he wrote nostalgic and patriot poems about his country, Egypt, and about the Arab world in general. After his exile, when he returned to his country, he wrote religious poems and his plays evidenced a more mature poetry. He was the first playwright to produce poetic plays in Arabic literature; he wrote five tragedies and two comedies. His most famous play was “The death of Cleopatra”. Apart from poetry and plays, he also wrote various great novels like “The last pharaoh”. “The states of Arabs and the great men of Islam” was a long poem written by him that talked about the history of Islam. In 1927, a group of poets recognized his great work in poetry and gave him the title of the “Prince of Poets”. There’s a monument of Ahmed Shawqi in the Villa Borghese Gardens in Rome, Italy. A way to remember this great poet in his country is through a lecture series about his poetry that takes place every month at the Sawy Culturewheel in Egypt.
He was born in Zagazig, Egypt, in 1887 and died in Cairo, Egypt, in 1958. He was a significant and influential Egyptian journalist, thinker, author and intellectual who founded Egypt’s Socialist Party in 1920. He also founded a journal called al-Majalla al-Jadida (The new magazine), which was a forum for radical critiques. He was influenced by important figures of the Fabian Society such as G.H. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. He was involved and interested in different social, scientific and cultural subjects such as the theory of evolution, the social democracy and the scientific spirit. He believed that the human intellect was a guarantee of prosperity and progress. Along with other intellectuals, he wanted to simplify the Arabic language and its grammar, and to recognize the Egyptian Arabic as the modern Egyptian language. One of his best known works is “Man at the top of evolution”.
He was born in the village of Sharuna in the district of el-Minya, Egypt, in 1915 and died in 1990. He was an Egyptian scholar, writer, intellectual and essayist who, along with other writers, drew from Marxism and advocated for a radical reform of the Egyptian society. He was the chairman of the Faculty of Letters of the Cairo University. He was a faculty adviser at the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. He was one of the leading opinion makers in the Arab world. He introduced free verse forms to Egyptian literature.
Ehsan Hatem El-Kirdany was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1986. She’s an Egyptian model and beauty queen who won the Pantene Miss Egypt 2007 pageant and who represented her country in the Miss Universe 2007 pageant in Mexico City, Mexico. She’s also a painter and she works as a freelance English teacher. When she participated in the Miss Universe 2007 pageant she was among the top ten for Best Evening Gown and for Most Photogenic, according to the choices of GlobalBeauties.com.