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Dawlath Soliman:
Dancing with a Gunshot Wound



Table of Contents



Dawlath's Early Years

According to Shokry Mohamed(1), Dawlath Soliman was born in Berlin in December 1919. Her mother was a German, and her father was an Egyptian immigrant who had come to Germany a few years earlier. Her father wanted to name her Zahra, after his mother, but the German bureaucrat refused to allow such a foreign name to be placed on a birth certificate, so her name ended up as Dawlath Zahra Abbas Soliman.

When Soliman was 17 years old, her father left his family in Germany to escape pressures the Nazis were putting on foreigners as they rose to power. He went first to Turkey, then a few years later to Egypt. Young Dawlath began studying at a dance school in Berlin, to learn a skill she could use to make a living. (Mohamed's book does not specify what style of dance she studied in Berlin; it was most likely ballet.)

In 1947, Soliman joined her father in Cairo, but almost immediately left and went to Alexandria where she found work as a dancer in a sala named Oberg Blu. She worked there a few months, then returned to Cairo and found employment working for Badia Masabni. However, her behavior didn't fit in, and she soon was seeking other employment.

In May 1950, the police broke down the door of Soliman's Cairo home and interrogated her about her nationality and that of her parents, though Mohamed's book doesn't say why. They eventually fined her 5 Egyptian pounds. (Five pounds was a substantial amount of money at that time - Samia Gamal told interviewer Fouad Moawad that when she started as a young dancer at Badia Masabni's club in the early 1940's, she was paid 3 pounds per month.) Soliman worked at the Helmia Palace as a dancer for 2 weeks, then left Egypt and went to England.



King Farouk's Favorite Dancer?

Circa 1951, Soliman moved to Germany and the promoter of a nightclub where she worked advertised her as "King Farouk's Favorite Dancer".

But was she really King Farouk's favorite dancer, or was it just an empty marketing claim?

According to an Australian newpaper article published in 1951 which was mocking King Farouk(2):

But Farouk's repercussion farther north in Frankfurt, Germany are not so clear. An Egyptian dancer, Miss Dawlath Soliman, has had her passport cancelled by the Egyptian Consul because the management [of the place where she dances] billed her as, "King Farouk's favorite dancing girl." The Consul said that it was improper for the name of the King of Egypt to be linked with that of Miss Soliman. Nevertheless, if Miss Soliman is as careless about her reputation as all that, she probably deserves to have her passport sterilised.

Soliman's claim of being King Farouk's favorite dancer is probably no more than marketing hype. There are many reasons to be skeptical of the claim:

  • If Soliman had been King Farouk's favorite dancer, then why was she harassed by the police in May 1950? They broke down the door to her apartment, interrogated her, and charged her a fine of 5 pounds. A dancer who had achieved status as the king's favorite would not be likely to be subjected to such treatment.
  • Soliman was born and raised in Germany, and her dance training was in Germany. She arrived in Egypt in 1947 after Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal had already achieved stardom, and she was only there for 3 years.
  • If Soliman had been the king's favorite dancer, then it would be logical to expect she would have headlined at Badia Masabni's Casino Opera, where other dancers favored by King Farouk were featured. Yet, according to Priscilla Adum who has done extensive research on Masabni's clubs, her flyers and newspaper ads from the late 1940's and early 1950's do not mention Soliman as a headliner. Shokry Mohamed reported in his book that she worked at Badia's sala for a short time, but was terminated due to her behavior not fitting in.
  • If Soliman had truly been the king's favorite dancer while she lived in Egypt, then why did she leave Egypt in 1950, while he was still in power and relocate to England? Why not stay in Egypt and take advantage of the benefits of that status?
  • Surely if Soliman were indeed the king's favorite dancer, wouldn't a motion picture studio have hired her to appear in one of their projects to exploit her celebrity status? El Cinema's Arabic web site does not list Soliman as appearing in any Egyptian films even though many musicals with dance scenes were made in Egypt during the years Soliman was in Egypt (1947-1950).
  • A Google search in Arabic for Dawlath Soliman's name does not return any hits. The lack of Arabic-language articles about Soliman would suggest that she was not well known in Egypt.

Most likely Soliman's passport was revoked because her claim simply wasn't true. In 1950 when Soliman left Egypt and went to England, Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal were both extremely prominent dancers in Egypt, headlining at prestigious clubs, performing at parties attended by the king, and starring in motion pictures. Just one year earlier, in 1949, King Farouk named Samia Gamal to the title of "National Dancer of Egypt". In 1950, other dancers such as Hoda Shems el-Din and Naemat Mokhtar were also securing movie roles and headliner status at the salas, yet there is no trace of Soliman doing the same. Surely the salas and movie producers of the time would have been eager to take advantage of Soliman's favored status with the king, garnering prestige and publicity for themselves, if Soliman's claim had been legitimate.

Most likely, Soliman's decision to leave Egypt may have been motivated by a desire to escape the shadow of Carioca, Gamal, and the other headliners of their day, seeking stardom in a country not already saturated with other celebrity dancers.



In Sweden

Soliman performed in a New Year's Day show in Göteborg, Sweden as part of a play named Kiss Me Ada on January 1, 1952. According to the playbill(3), Soliman performed in Act 2, Scene 1. The scene depicted the Park Hotel Musical Revue, featuring "The Egyptian dancer Dawlath Soliman".



The Gunshot Wound

In August 1953, Soliman was injured in a shooting incident while performing at the Bongo Bar in Munich. In the early 1950's, the Bongo Bar was a strip club(4), although it is unclear whether Soliman stripped. The incident was reported by the wire services, and was mentioned in newspapers around the world.


Associated Press

As reported by the Associated Press (5):



Egyptian belly dancer Dawlath Soliman shook off the effects of a bullet wound and was back to work tonight in Munich's Bongo Bar. The management of the German night club said that she was shot and wounded during a pre-dawn performance by an unknown gunman who escaped on a motorcycle. Dawlath, who calls herself "King Farouk's favorite dancer," was hit in the shoulder.

(APWirephoto) gww1224Ofls 1953. (SEE WIRE STORY.)


Click on the photo to see more detail.

Dawlat Soliman


The Hamburger Abendblatt

Auf Deutsch (In German)

English Translation

Montag, 3 August, 1953

Opfer der Eifersucht Eigener Berlcht, 3 August

Exkönigs Faruks Lieblings-Bauchtänzerin Dawlath Soliman ist am Wochenende von einem unbekannten Mann während der Vorstellung in der Bongo-Bar in München angeschossen worden. Die Tänzerin wurde an der Schulter leicht verletzt Sie konnte

Jedoch wenig später schon wieder auftreten. Der Zwischenfall hatte sich blitzschnell abgespielt Der Unbekannte stürzte in die Bar. den Schuß ab, boxte Kellner nieder und entkam unerkannt mit einem Motorrad, Die Polizei vermutet einen Racheakt oder ein Eifersuchtsdrama. Die ägyptische Bauchtänzerin hatte einst großes Aufsehen erregt, als sie in einem Nachtklub in Kairo vor König Faruk auftrat.

Monday, August 3, 1953

Victim of Jealousy Private Berlcht, August 3

Former King Farouk's favorite belly dancer Dawlath Soliman was shot over the weekend by an unknown man during her performance in the Bongo Bar in Munich. The dancer was slightly injured in the shoulder.

However, a little later, it happened again. The incident played out at lightning speed. The stranger crashed into the bar, fired the shot, punched a waiter, and escaped on a motorcycle. The police suspect an act of revenge or a jealousy drama. The Egyptian belly dancer had once created quite a sensation when she appeared in a nightclub in Cairo in front of King Farouk.


Reported In the Straits Times

An article about the incident from Reuter's wire service appeared in the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times on August 4, 1953, on page 3. (6)

The article mentioned that a man fired a pistol at her at the club where she was dancing, and said that she took refuge under a table. The next day, a follow-up article appeared in the same newspaper saying that she knew her assailant. (7)



The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Dawlath Soliman achieved a level of popularity while working in Germany. At some point after the 1953 shooting incident, she left Munich and went to work in Nuremberg. However, as of January 1954 she was back in the news, involved in yet another headline-generating incident. This appeared in the newspaper Nürnberger Zeitung(8) summary of prominent news stories from 1954:

Auf Deutsch (In German)

English Translation

Dawlath Soliman, ehemalige Lieblingstänzerin des letzten ägyptischen Königs Faruk (1920–1965), sorgte für Furore. Allabendlich trat sie im Cabaret „tabu“ in der Luitpoldstraße mit ihrem berühmt-berüchtigten „Tanz der Brautnacht“ auf. Als sie eine Einladung erhielt, auf der Berliner Viererkonferenz bei einem Gala-Empfang der Sowjetbotschaft aufzutreten, wollte Direktor Wolff Lehner die große Zugnummer seines Programms nicht einmal für einen Tag aus ihrem Vertrag entlassen.

Soliman wiederum wollte die „Chance ihres Lebens“ wahrnehmen und begab sich mit ihrem Manager zum Flughafen. Dort kam es zu dramatischen Szenen. Direktor Lehner versuchte zusammen mit Geschäftsfreunden, Soliman zurückzuhalten, entriss ihr die Flugkarte und zerfetzte sie, während ein „Komplize“ mit dem Koffer der Tänzerin davonfuhr. Soliman und ihr Manager retteten sich in das Flughafenbüro, bis die Polizei eintraf; später erlitt sie in ihrem Hotel einen Nervenzusammenbruch. Wolff Lehner wurde Urkundenvernichtung und versuchte Freiheitsberaubung vorgeworfen.

Dawlath Soliman, a former favorite dancer of the last Egyptian King Farouk (1920-1965), caused a sensation. Every evening she performed her renowned at "Dance of the Wedding Night" at the cabaret "Taboo" in the Luitpoldstraße. When she was invited to perform for a gala reception at the Berlin four-power conference at the Soviet Embassy, Director Wolff Lehner the manager of the club would not release her from her contract even for one day.

Soliman wanted to exercise the "opportunity of a lifetime" and went with her manager ​​to the airport. There were dramatic scenes. Director Lehner and his colleagues together tried to restrain Soliman. They snatched her ticket and tore it up, while an accomplice drove away with the dancer's suitcase. Soliman and her manager took refuge in the airport office, until the police arrived, but later she suffered a nervous breakdown in her hotel. Wolff Lehner was accused of document destruction and attempted false imprisonment.



Her Own Night Spot


Dawlath Soliman Became a Hostess

The Keystone Press Agency distributed this photo of Dawlath Soliman on April 2, 1954 in conjunction with a news report of Soliman opening her own business. The caption accompanying this photo included a number of spelling and grammatical errors, as follows:

Dawlath Soliman became a hostess.

She is said to be once the favorite dancer of Faruk. The Egyptian from about whom some scandals became well known during the last time now became the owner of the Metro-Bar in Munich. On April 1st she served her guest sitting in a Turk-seat the first special-Orient-cocktail. Sometimes she already intends showing her dances.(9)

Click on the photo to see more detail.


Promotional Cards

Soliman printed a supply of promotional cards with her photo to promote her new business.(10) The cards said:

Auf Deutsch (In German)

English Translation

Sie tanzt wieder in München

Ab 1. April 1954 im eigenen Nachtclub.

1954 eröffnete die berühmte Tänzerin Dawlath Soliman ihre "Metro-Bar" in der Münchner Ottostraße Nr. 2

She dances again in Munich

Since April 1, 1954 in her own nightclub.

In 1954 the famous dancer Dawlath Soliman opened her "Metro Bar" on Munich's Ottostraße No 2.

The card was printed in black and white, at a size of 4.5 inches (11.5 centimeters) x 6.5 inches (17 centimeters). The photo showed her with veils.

Note that the German word "Nachtclub" was used to describe Soliman's Metro Bar. In Germany, the word "Nachtclub" is used to refer to a "girlie club," the kind of place a man would go to without his wife — a place featuring strippers and other scantily clad female entertainers. German society was very prudish in the 1950's, and therefore this sort of night spot would have been viewed by the public as a sleazy establishment.



End Notes

  1. Mohamed, Shokry. "Zahra". El Reinado de las Bailarinas, pages 71-74.
  2. Russo, Peter. "Farouk - Shy, But Still Bulks Large." The Argus, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. June 14, 1951. Print. Page 2. Archived online. Accessed July 18, 2012.
  3. Playbill for Kiss Me Ada. January 1, 1952. Göteborg, Sweden. Archived online. Accessed January 19, 2012.
  4. "Sündiges München - Strip in der Bongo Bar". Süddeutsche Zeitung. October 14, 2009. Archived online. Accessed July 22, 2012.
  5. Associated Press. August 2, 1953. Private collection.
  6. Reuter. "Farouk's Former Friend Shot in Bar." The Straits Times. August 4, 1953. Print. Page 3. Archived online. Beginning of article accessed July 18, 2012.
  7. "I Know Gunman, Says Dancer." The Straits Times. August 5, 1954. Print. Page 3. Archived online.
  8. Nürnberger Zeitung FrankenWiki. "Das war Nürnberg im Januar 1954." Accessed July 18, 2012.
  9. Keystone Press Agency. April 2, 1954. Private collection.
  10. Promotional card for Metro Bar. 1954. Private collection.



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