Nagwa Fouad: The Egyptian Belly Dancer Loved by Henry Kissinger

Nagwa Fouad
Nagwa Fouad

Nagwa Fouad: The Egyptian Belly Dancer Loved by Henry Kissinger

Nagwa Fouad, an Egyptian belly dancer and actress, was born on January 17, 1939. She was born as Awatef Mohamed Agami in Alexandria to a middle-class Egyptian family with an Egyptian father and Palestinian mother. The family moved to Jaffa soon after Nagwa’s birth.

In 1948, the family had to flee their home because of Jaffa’s occupation by Israel. Nagwa’s father fled to Alexandria and Nagwa moved to Cairo. Her dancing career started when she was working as a receptionist at the Orabi Agency, a talent agency for the stars of the Egyptian cinema.

A critical moment in her career was meeting the prominent Egyptian violin player, composer and conductor, Ahmed Fouad Hassan, who suggested that Nagwa perform in his 1960s musical Adwaa Al Madina (City Lights).

Ahmed encouraged Nagwa to learn theatrical techniques and showmanship. Nagwa said: ‘He trained me at the Nelly Mazloum Dance School and I joined the National Dance Troupe to study folklore with Russian teachers.

She began belly dancing in the early 1960s. In 1976, the composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab wrote an entire musical piece exclusively for her belly dancing show titled "Amar Arbatashar" (a popular Egyptian slang term meaning the "full Moon of the 14th [day]."  This marked her transition from traditional oriental dance to choreographed stage performances.

After Fouad's marriage to Ahmed Fouad Hassan, she danced in the stage show Adwoua El-Madina (City Lights), which included such performers as Abdel Halim Hafez, Fayza Ahmed, Shadia and Sabah. Fouad featured on many of the covers of the Ahmed Fouad Hassan's albums. Nagwa Fouad learned the showmanship and eye-catching techniques that she used in her performances of "Ayoub El-Masri" (Ayoub, the Egyptian) and "Bahiya wa Yassin."

Fouad acted for the first time in a movie entitled "Ighraa" (Seduction), which was shown in 1957, after which her work varied between dancing and acting. She also acted and danced in the movie "Love Street" with Abdel Halim Hafez and danced to the song "Bitlomoni Leh" in 1958.

She presented many diverse artworks, amounting to more than 250, and her latest artwork is her role in the series “Ard El Nafaq” (Land of Hypocrisy) in 2018, and the movie “Egypt Stock Exchange Coffee” in 2019.

Nagwa Fouad was considered one of the most famous raqs sharqi dancers in the Arab world in the 1970s. Raqs sharqi had been performed at events and celebrations, in nightclubs and on cinema sets, and with Nagwa Fouad’s musicals, raqs sharqi took a completely new dimension which has not been replicated since.

Fouad was married more than once during her life, with a total of 12 marriages, despite some sources reporting that she married 15 times. She married for the first time to the Egyptian violin player, composer and conductor Ahmed Fouad Hassan, and then separated from him after she gave birth to one daughter. The second husband was dance coach Kamal Naim, but she did not continue with him either and separated.  The third husband was the young star Ahmed Ramzy, with a 1963 marriage lasting only 17 days.

Nagwa Fouad's fourth husband was the Lebanese Sami Al Zoghbi, who worked as a manager in a Cairo hotel. Their relationship began because Nagwa was presenting a segment every night in the same hotel, but she separated from him and later married an Egyptian businessman who owned a Chevrolet car agency. After splitting up with him, she married businessman Fayez Trad, then separated to marry for the seventh time to Sami Al-Muhandis. After marrying and divorcing Muhammad Musa, she married a Kuwaiti businessman. She separated from him and married Imad Abdel Halim Al-Mutreb, who is the uncle of the singer Angham. She separated from him after she discovered that he was addicted to heroin, and her last husband was Major General Mohammed Al-Sibai.

Many notable Egyptian and foreign politicians watched Fouad on stage. For instance, both US President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saw one of her performances and it is said that the latter was infatuated with her and even asked her to marry him.

Some rumors circulated about a relationship between Nagwa Fouad and the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, but when asked about the truth of this relationship, she said: “This talk is baseless, Kissinger did not propose to me, all this was the imagination of the yellow press. What happened In 1974 is that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry asked the management of the hotel where I was working to allocate the hall in which I was performing every night to US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his bodyguards only, as a kind of celebration and entertainment for him during his visits to Egypt during the disengagement period after the October victory.”

For his part, Kissinger mentioned in his memoirs some words about Nagwa Fouad, he wrote: “I was always keen, every time I visited Cairo, to make sure that the Egyptian dancer, Nagwa Fouad, was present. She fascinated me, and I consider her one of the most beautiful things that I have seen in the Arab world, if not the only thing.”

Fouad’s only wish is to do the Hajj pilgrimage, something she said she would do once she has the finances needed. She is strongly considering resigning from the entertainment industry if she performs the holy pilgrimage, and has indicated that she would also commit to wearing the hijab.


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