Mohammed Wahab
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Mohammed Wahab

Mohammed Wahab

The basics
Quick Facts
Gender male
Birth 1 January 1970
The details

Mohammed 'Abd al-Wahhab (Arabic: محمد عبد الوهاب‎‎), also transliterated Mohammed Abdel Wahab (March 13, 1902 – May 4, 1991) was a prominent 20th-century Egyptian singer and composer.

He composed "Ya Beladi" (also known as "Libya, Libya, Libya") the National anthem of Libya used by the Kingdom of Libya from 1951 to 1969 and again by the post-Gaddafi transitional government in 2011. He also composed the national anthem of Tunisia, "Humat al-Hima" as well as the United Arab Emirates national anthem "Ishy Bilady" and many Egyptian nationalist songs.


Mohammed 'Abd al-Wahhab was born in 1902 in Cairo, Egypt, in a neighborhood called Bab El-Sheriyah, where there is now a statue of him. He began his singing career at an early age and made his first public performances at age seven at local productions. He was 13 when he made his first recording.

Mohammed 'Abd al-Wahhab was a very close friend to singer Abdel Halim Hafez.

Film career

In 1933 'Abd al-Wahhab began composing his own style of Arabic film musical after visiting Paris and familiarizing himself with French musical film. He introduced a lighthearted genre of musical film to Arabic culture eventually composing eight musical comedies between 1933 and 1949. His films portrayed Western social elite and included music that veered off from the traditional Arabic tune. He starred in his 1934 film The White Flower which broke records in attendance and still plays frequently in Egyptian theaters.

In 1950 'Abd al-Wahhab left film to focus on being a more profound singer.

Contribution to Arab music

Egyptian singer & composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab Statue at Bab El-Shariya square, Cairo

'Abd al-Wahhab composed more than 1820 songs. 'Abd al-Wahhab is considered to be one of the most innovative Egyptian musicians of all time, laying the foundation for a new era of Egyptian music with his use of non-Arabic rhythms and refined oud playing.

Despite the fact that 'Abd al-Wahhab composed many songs and musical pieces of classical Arab music, he was always criticized for his orientation to Western music. In fact, he introduced Western rhythms to Arab songs in a way appropriate to the known forms of Arab songs. For example, in 1941, he introduced a waltz rhythm in his song "Al Gondol," and, in 1957, he introduced a rock and roll rhythm in Abdel Halim Hafez's song "Ya Albi Ya Khali".

He composed some of the best hits of Najat Al Saghira including four poems by Nizar Qabbani.

'Abd al-Wahhab played oud before the prominent Arab poet, Ahmed Shawqi, and acted in several movies. He composed ten songs for Umm Kulthum. He was the first Egyptian singer to move from silent-era acting to singing.


Mohammed 'Abd al-Wahhab died in Cairo, Egypt of heart failure on May 4, 1991.


'Abd al-Wahhab was fundamental in establishing a new Era of Egyptian music in his homeland and across the Arab world. He also left a mark on the Western world by exposing Egyptian music to Western classical and popular traditions.

He composed the United Arab Emirates' national anthem.


  • The White Rose (1933)
  • Doumou' el Hub (Love's Tears) (1936)
  • Yahya el Hub (Long Live Love) (1938)
  • Yawm Said (Happy Day) (1939)
  • Mamnou'a el Hub (Love Is Forbidden) (1942)
  • Rossassa Fel Qalb (A Bullet in the Heart) (1944)
  • Lastu malakan (I'm No Angel) (1947)
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