Egypt's golden age of cinema: hundreds of rare photos come to Abu Dhabi

Akkasah, the Centre for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi, launches photographs from the collection of prominent film critic

More than 600 never-before-seen photographs from Egyptian cinema have been released online by Akkasah, the Centre for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi. The collection of photographs and negatives belonging to Samir Farid, a prominent Egyptian writer, scholar, and leading film critic, was donated to the centre. It features a wide range of negatives taken on sets of various Egyptian films, from publicity shots, to candid pictures of cast and crew, and images captured while filming behind the scenes.

Included in the collection are a variety of negatives, dated between 1940 and 1990, demonstrating social and historical changes over 50 years. Many of the photographs are from the Egyptian cinema's golden age, which began in the 1940s and ended in the late 1960s. It was a time when the Egyptian cinema industry was considered the world's third largest.

Given the fragile nature of these negatives, Akkasah takes special measures to preserve and digitise these images. The negatives are scanned and then processed, in order to identify the metadata associated with the images, including the films from which they originate, and the actors and directors who appear in them.

The centre’s digital archive aims to preserve photographs that can easily be lost, and ensure the images are available to audiences online for ease of access. To date, the centre has published over 10,000 photographs online, with historical and contemporary collections from the UAE, the Middle East and the wider Arab world, including North Africa.

To view the entirety of the Samir Farid collection, visit