Raya and Sakina

  • Raya and Sakina
    by Habby Khalil
  • Follow Me
  • Raya and Sakina are the perpetrators of one of the most heinous murders in modern Egyptian history. The sisters fled upper Egypt to settle in a slum in the coastal city of Alexandria. They then turned into criminals by murdering women to steal their jewelry through attracting the victims to their home by a false promise to get goods at cheaper prices.
    Reaching the house, victims were drugged, chocked and then buried under the tiles of the house. After committing more than 17 crimes both sisters were arrested and sentenced to death in 1921, which was the first sentence of death in modern Egyptian law issued against women.

    One of the things that stopped me in the events of execution of the sisters is their different reaction, where Raya was silent while Sakina boasted of her bravery, which intrigued me to explore the possibility of multiple convictions leading to the same act.

    This story has always been associated in my imagination with black and white because they symbolize the eternal conflict and interdependence between different beliefs. The space surrounding the characters reflects their spiritual sanctuary, its sanctity, and their inner isolation, which fostered alongside monochromatic a state of interaction between subjects and their surroundings.

    Using seduction, the oldest weapon of the female, in catching their victims, stripped those victims of the characteristic of femininity to leave us in a gray area. Through the use of clothing, I am trying to create a symbolic connection to the connected fate of the two sisters, while visual symmetry invites the viewer to focus on the differences between them.

    Trust, doubt, belief, the relationship between justification and action and which one precedes the other, all are areas I am trying to re-explore through the visuals, this body of work is a call to see this historical crime not through the eye of the observer but through the window of the sisters’ self-awareness directed by their conviction.
  • Ceremony 
  • Confession 
  • Angel
  • Justice For All
  • Purge
  • Inevitable
  • Oath
  • Guard
  • Burden
  • Neighbors


  • On Gallery:
  •                             The opening night of Raya & Sakina exhibition at The Empty Quarter Gallery-Dubai