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Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK

World: Middle East

Farewell to Egypt's Queen of Dance

Her colourful and controversial life won her many admirers

Fans of Oriental dancing across the Arab world are mourning the death of Tahiyya Karioka, who died of a heart attack on Monday.

Ms Karioka was the star of hundreds of films, plays and TV soap operas. She took her name from the Brazilian samba dances she performed.

She was dubbed the "Queen of Oriental Dancing", or belly-dance, and studied at the Ivanova Dancing School before moving to Mohammed Ali Street - pre-revolutionary Cairo's equivalent of Broadway.

[ image:
"Not only a dancer" according to Eward Said
Among the many fans of this beautiful and elegant star was the last King of Egypt, King Farouk, who was overthrown in 1952.

She was married 14 times to some of Egypt's more enduring artistic figures, including the actor Rushdi Abaza and playwright Fayez Halawa.

But it was her move to the big screen just as the Egyptian film industry was taking off that sealed her fame and brought her millions of admirers.

The influential Palestinian-American writer Edward Said called Ms Karioka "not only a belly dancer but an artist who played a role in shaping Egypt's modern culture".

Against the tide

The spread of Muslim militancy during the 1980s was a blow to Egypt's belly dancing industry.

Several dancers publicly renounced their pasts and donned the Islamic veil.

In her later years, Tahiyya Karioka also took to wearing a headscarf and went on pilgrimage to Mecca.

But she remained to the end proud of her chosen career, while many actors and actresses saw her as a role model and admired her spirited defence of their interests.

She was buried on Monday. Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni led the funeral procession.

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