Mahmoud Qabil was born in Alexandria in 1944. His family lived in relative affluence until the death of his father, when he was 11. Qabil joined the Egyptian Military in 1964, and served as an officer until 1973. He fought in both the Six Day War in 1967 and the War of Attrition in 1970, both decisive wars in the history of modern Egypt.
After this period of military service, Qabil turned to acting with a first appearance in 1972 in The Sparrow (el 'Osfour) directed by famous Alexandrian director Youssef Chahine. He went on with this acting career for some time, appearing in quite a few movies in the 1970s. In 1980, he placed it on hold and moved to the United States where he started his own business. Together with his brother, Hussein, they owned Qabil Citrus Farms in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. He would not return to Egypt or to acting for another 14 years. During this period Qabil developed skills in counseling young people, which he now applies in his work with UNICEF.
Upon his return to Egypt in 1994, he resumed acting with Penalty (Darbit Gazâ') produced by fellow Alexandrian Ikram Haggar, and Cheap Meat (Lahm Rikhîs), a movie about the trade of young peasant girls to rich Gulf suitors. His acting was praised by critics and audiences alike, and he soon began to gain popularity. In 2003, Qabil embarked on a TV series about girls’ education and inheritance in Upper Egypt. His concern with social affairs and dedication to help those in need have been remarkable throughout his career.
After being involved in charity work, Qabil’s efforts were recognized by the United Nations, naming him UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to the Middle East and North Africa in November 2003. Ever since, Mahmoud Qabil has supported UNICEF in the development of different social awareness and fund-raising campaigns in favour of children in the Arab region and beyond.
Qabil’s fame rests heavily on his television series. He is perhaps best remembered for his roles in Where is my Heart (Ayna Qalbî) and Ladies of Garden City (Hawânim Gârden Citî). As many a typical Alexandrian polyglot, he is fluent in English, Arabic, French, Hebrew, and Italian.
1973: The Sparrow (el 'Osfour)1975
1975: Love under the Rain (Houbb taht el Mattar)
1976: Away from the Land (Ba'idan 'n el aArd)
1978: The Cursed (el Mala'în)
1994: Penalty (Darbit Gazâ')
1995: Cheap Meat (Lahm Rikhîs)
1998: Fine Lace (Dantella)
2000: The Madness of Life (Gonoun el Hayâh)