Mounira El Mahdeya

Munira al-Mahdiya (born Zakiyya Husayn Mansur, Arabic: منيرة المهدية‎) was an Egyptian singer born in 1885 (she is said to have come from Zagazig, but other sources say Alexandria); she died in 1965. The singer, better known under the nickname of "Sultana of Tarab" or "The Sultana", was considered to be the leading Egyptian singer in the 1920s.


She studied in a French nuns’ school, after which she began her career in singing in local clubs in the Ezbekiyya entertainment area.

She joined the theatre of Aziz Eid, known for encouraging and developing the talents of his actors, actors who have among them many future stars such as Fatma Rushdi. This is where Mounira El Mahdeya acquired her acting technique and her lyrical talent as an actress and singer. She also was part of the ensemble of Salama Higazi and when he became ill, she sang his role in Salah al-Din al-Ayubi, while dressed onstage as a man.

Her first recording was in 1906, under the name Sitt Munira (Lady Munira). She sang Arabic musical repertoire and also Arab adaptations of popular Italian operas, her performances became very popular and increasingly demanded by the public. She interpreted some male roles as Romeo and Mark Antony.

She was a trailblazer and not afraid to express nationalist sentiments where she performed. She was later followed in the field by such actresses as Bahige Hafez, Fatma Rushdi and Aziza Amir. Her performances marked the increasingly popularity of new and lighter song formats, for instance, the taqtuqa, which she sang for women and theater audiences. However, Mounira al-Mahdiya was also proficient in the singing of adwar and qasa'id which she sang for male audiences.

The great popularity of Mounira al-Mahdiya, intensified by the success of the film La Coquette in 1935, enabled her to build a network of fans from different backgrounds, both social and geographical, and a theatre now bears her name.

She sang for kings and leaders in national celebrations such as "National Day of Turkey" in front of Kemal Atatürk.

Hassan al-Imam directed a film, Sultana al-Tarab about her life, produced by and starring the artist Sherifa Fadel. The film appeared in 1978 (

Munira al-Mahdiya died on March 12, 1965 at the age of eighty years after a long professional life.[1]


  • 1935: La Coquette (El Ghandourah) stars Munira al-Mahdiya and Ahmed Allam Directed by Mario Volpi

Important works

Aldahre Kataâ Awsali by Mounira El Mahdeya (Baidaphon No. 23045).
  • Asmar Malak Rohi
  • Sweet dove.
  • Erkhy El Setara
  • The States of Yama States.
  • Baad El Eisha Yehla El Hezar We El Farfasha
  • Eshky of Maine Hawa.
  • Ana Heweit.
  • I fell in love.
  • For God's peace.


  • 1926 Award of excellence in theatrical singing contest set up by the Ministry of Public Works
  • 1960 won the Medal of Merit First Class
  • 1961 First Class of the Egyptian National Award Order of Arts and Sciences


Munira al-Mahdiya was honoured by the King of Morocco and President of Tunisia and by the President of Turkey Kemal Atatürk — she was the only artist that he admired.

See also

External links


  1. ^ "Mounira El Mahdia : la Sultane du tarab, une diva avant l'heure". Turess. Retrieved 2020-04-10.