How popular is the baby name Abdullah in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Abdullah.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Abdullah

Posts that Mention the Name Abdullah

Where did the baby name Samia come from?

Photograph of Egyptian bellydancer Samia Gamal dancing, from LIFE magazine (Mar. 24, 1952).
Samia, © 1952 LIFE

Here’s a debut name I almost missed because it’s so similar to names like Sammie and Samie. It’s Samia, which first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the early 1950s:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 7 baby girls named Samia
  • 1953: 14 baby girls named Samia
    • 6 in Texas specifically
  • 1952: 11 baby girls named Samia
  • 1951: 6 baby girls named Samia [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

What was the inspiration?

An Egyptian belly-dancer!

She was born Zaynab Ibrahim Mahfuz in 1924, but early in her dancing career she started using the stage name Samia Gamal.

She became a film star in Egypt, but the U.S. press didn’t start mentioning her until 1950, when King Farouk of Egypt (who had divorced his first wife Farida a few years earlier) made it known that Samia was his favorite dancer.

What really caught America’s attention, though, was Samia’s whirlwind romance with oil heir Sheppard King III of Houston, Texas. They’d met in mid-1951 in a Paris nightclub and became engaged the same night. Within a few months he had converted to Islam, taken the name “Abdullah,” and married Samia in Cairo.

Photograph of Egyptian bellydancer Samia Gamal dancing, from LIFE magazine (Oct. 22, 1951).
Samia, © 1951 LIFE

“Naturally, the press, especially some of the Houston papers, ate it up.”

Over the next few months, the couple didn’t have to do much to end up in the newspaper. When not jet-setting around the world, mostly to satisfy Gamal’s dancing commitments, the two could be found in Houston. For instance, a proposed visit to Arrowhead Park Speedway in July 1952 merited a couple of paragraphs in the Chronicle.

And, of course, the press was also there to cover the couple’s separation and divorce in 1953.

Given the story’s Texas connection, it’s not surprising that many of the babies named Samia in 1953 (and in 1952, according to records) were born in Texas specifically.

The Arabic name Samia (also spelled Samiya) is derived from the male name Sami, which means “elevated” or “sublime.”

What are your thoughts on the name Samia?


  • “Egyptian National Dancer Gets American King” Life 22 Oct. 1951: 46.
  • “Egypt’s new charmer.” Life 4 Sept. 1950: 28.
  • Gonzales, J. R. “A Lady Named Samia.” Houston Chronicle 13 Feb. 2009.
  • “Mazda Motion: In U.S., Samia and flashlight reveal secrets of ancient art.” Life 24 Mar. 1952: 45-46.
  • Samia Gamal – Wikipedia
  • Samiya – Behind the Name

Name News from Saudi Arabia

Three bits of name news out of Saudi Arabia…


The most circulated [baby] names in the Kingdom include Mohammad, Fahd, Abdullah, Abdulrahman, Turki, Bandar, Omar, Ali, Fatima, Aisha, Nora, Hessa, Sheikha, and Maha.

Unfortunately the article didn’t specify exactly which year (or years) this list covers.


Unusual or rare [baby] names have been reduced due to the work of authorities across the Kingdom who have enacted regulations to curb exotic or strange names.

Some of the baby names no longer being used are…

  • Faziah, female name meaning “one who is afraid”
  • Mureibah, female name, “fearful”
  • Najar, male name
  • Rashash, male name, “a gun machine”
  • Zaqam, male name meaning “to do with the mouth” (…?)

Here’s an earlier list of baby names (possibly) banned in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi society is facing a new phenomenon in which many young people are changing their names to be in tune with the latest name trends, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

Several of the name changes mentioned in the article:

  • Fatimah to Hadeel (woman, 22 years old)
    • “I used the name Hadeel for my social media account before I changed it officially with the Civil Status Department.”
  • Salem to Faris (man, 27 years old)
  • Ethar to Maria (woman, 31 years old)
  • Nouf to Naifah (woman, age not mentioned)

Sources: Naming babies under scrutiny, The name game! Young Saudis changing names to be more trendy

Popular Names in Dubai: Mohammed, Mariam

Here are two recent sets of name rankings out of the United Arab Emirates.

First: In mid-2013, the UAE’s Ministry of Health released “year to date” baby name rankings topped by Mariam/Fatima and Mohammed:

Girl Names (babies in UAE, 2013)

  1. Mariam (tie)
  2. Fatima (tie)
  3. Aiysha
  4. Sara

Boy Names (babies in UAE, 2013)

  1. Mohammed
  2. Abdullah
  3. Ahmed
  4. Ali
  5. Khalid
  6. Saeed
  7. Omar
  8. Rashid

Second: Earlier this month, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) of Dubai — one of the 7 emirates in the UAE — released lists of popular girl names and boy names according to a survey of school registration records. I’m not sure what age range the records covered, but these rankings were also topped by Maryam and Mohammed:

Girl Names (children in Dubai, 2015)

  1. Maryam
  2. Sara/Sarah
  3. Fatima/Fatma
  4. Ayesha
  5. Noor

Boy Names (children in Dubai, 2015)

  1. Mohammed
  2. Ali
  3. Omar
  4. Ahmed/Ahmad
  5. Abdulla/Abdullah

One Dubai student named Mohammed was quoted as saying, “It is common to see four or five students share Mohammed as their first name in a class of 25 to 30 students. We usually get called by our second name.”

(I wonder where Hamad fell on these lists…?)

Sources: Mohammed most popular name for boys, The baby names that Dubai happens to loves the most
Image: Burj Khalifa by Max Bovkun