Youssef Wahbi

Youssef Abdallah Wahbi Qotb (Arabic: يوسف عبد الله هديب وهبي قطب) (Fayoum, Egypt; July 14, 1898 October 17, 1982) was an Egyptian stage and film actor and director, a leading star of the 1930s and 1940s and one of the most prominent Egyptian stage actors of any era, who also served on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. He was born to a high state official in Egypt but renounced his family's wealth and traveled to Rome in the 1920s to study theatre. Besides his stage work, he acted in about 50 films, starting with Awlad al-Zawat (Sons of Aristocrats; 1932) to "Iskanderiya... lih?" (Alexandria... Why?, 1978). He died in 1982, sick with arthritis and with a fractured pelvis, survived by his wife.

Youssef Abdullah Wahby Qotb
Native name
يوسف عبد الله هديب وهبي قطب
Youssef Abdullah Wahby Qotb

(1898-07-14)July 14, 1898
DiedOctober 17, 1982(1982-10-17) (aged 84)
Years active1932–1978


Youssef Wahbi was born into an Egyptian Fayoumi family. His late grand mother was said to be from Turkey.[1][2]

In 1926, Turkish filmmaker Vedat Örfi Bengü approached Wahbi to play the role of the Prophet Muhammed in a European film which would be financed by the Turkish government and a German producer.[3] Whilst the President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the Istanbul council of ulamas gave their approval to the film, the Islamic Al-Azhar University in Cairo published a juridical decision stipulating that Islam forbids the representation of the prophet and his companions.[3] Thereafter, King Fouad warned Whabi that he would be exiled and stripped of his Egyptian citizenship if he took part in the film.[3] Consequently, the film was later abandoned.[4]

Wahbi started acting in the Golden Age of the Egyptian Cinema from 1932 till he died in Cairo, Egypt at the age of 84, in 1982. Even though he comes from a very rich family, throughout his career and life his entire focus was the Film Industry.

Mr. Youssef Wahby has also starred in several plays which he translated into many languages due to his fluency in English, French, and Italian, along with his native Arabic tongue. He played many roles that were different and unusual for both Egyptian film and plays. He once played the Devil and he later on wanted to play Muhammad but the media and Al-Azhar University, the authoritative institution on Sunni Islam, were opposed to the idea and he was forbidden from going through with it.[5]

He is one of the most respected and beloved artists of all time in the Cinema of Egypt and several French and English companies tried to save his movies by reissuing them again.


Year Film Role International English Name(s)
1932 Awlad el zawat Actor a.k.a. the Spoiled Children or Sons of Aristocrats
1935 Al Defaa Actor and director a.k.a. The defense
1937 El Magid el khalid Actor a.k.a. Eternal Glory
1938 Saet el tanfiz Actor a.k.a. The Hour of Fate
1940 Leila momtera Actor a.k.a. Stormy night
1941 Leila, bint el rif actor a.k.a. Leila, the school girl
Areess min Istambul Actor a.k.a. A Suitor from Istanbul
1945 Safeer Gohannam Actor a.k.a. The Ambassador of Hell
1949 Ghazal Al Banat Actor (as himself) a.k.a. The Flirtation of Girls
1955 Hayat ou maut Actor a.k.a. Life or Death
1979 Iskanderija... lih? Actor a.k.a. Alexandria... Why?


  1. Landau, Jacob M. (2016), Studies in the Arab Theater and Cinema, Routledge, p. 81, ISBN 1317246276, More renowned in Egypt (and, particularly, in the other Arab lands) are Yusuf Wahbi and his confederates...He was born in a well-to-do Egyptian family of Turkish origin.
  2. Sada El Balad : Nogoum FM commemorates 35 death anniversary of Youssef Wahbi, Sada Al-Balad, 2017, retrieved 30 November 2017, Youssef Wahbi was born into an Egyptian family of Turkish origin...
  3. Shohat, Ella (2009), "Sacred Word, Profane Image: Theologies of Adaptation", in Bayrakdar, Deniz (ed.), Cinema and Politics: Turkish Cinema and The New Europe, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p. 17, ISBN 1443804150
  4. Armes, Roy (2008), "Orfi, Wedad", Dictionary of African Filmmakers, Indiana University Press, p. 105, ISBN 0253351162
  5. Alessandra. Raengo & Robert Stam (2004). A Companion To Literature And Film. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 31. ISBN 0-631-23053-X.
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