Egyptian politician Gamal Abdel Nasser became one of the primary leaders of Egypt following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.* He was elected president of the country on June 23, 1956.
A little more than a month after the election, on July 26, Nasser nationalized the 120-mile Suez Canal. Up to that point, the canal had been controlled jointly by Britain and France. Nasser did this in response to the U.S. and Britain withdrawing their offers to help finance the construction of the Aswan Dam, which was part of Nasser’s plan to improve Egypt’s economy and thereby modernize the country.
In late October and early November, forces from Israel, France, and Great Britain invaded Egypt. But the aggression was opposed by much of the rest of the world, including both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and the three invading countries were pressured to withdraw from Egypt over the following weeks and months.
So, Gamal Nasser emerged victorious from the Suez Crisis. (It was now “clear that the old colonial powers, Great Britain and France, had been supplanted as the world’s preeminent geopolitical forces by the United States and Soviet Union.”) And in 1957, both Gamal and Nasser saw enough usage as baby names to appear for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:
Usage of Gamal
Usage of Nasser
13 baby boys
6 baby boys
8 baby boys
7 baby boys
9 baby boys [debut]
7 baby boys [debut]
Many of these early Gamals and Nassers were born in New York and Illinois — likely New York City and Chicago specifically — and could therefore be babies born into Egyptian-American families.
Did Saudi Arabia really ban 51 baby names recently? I’m not sure.
Last week, the country’s Civil Affairs Department supposedly released a list of 51 unacceptable baby names — names that were either “not in line with social traditions,” “not appropriate in terms of religion,” or of Western origin.*
Over the weekend, though, a spokesperson from the Civil Affairs Department said that, while the department does regulate baby names, it didn’t release the list in question.
Here are the 51 (possibly) banned baby names:
Malak (“angel” in Arabic)
Abdul Nasser (“servant of the helper” in Arabic)
Emir (“prince” in Arabic)
Al-Mamlaka (“the kingdom” in Arabic)
Malika (“queen” in Arabic)
Mamlaka (“kingdom” in Arabic)
Basmalah (“in the name of God” in Arabic)
Rama (“pleasing” in Sanskrit; Hindu god)
Binyameen (Arabic form of Benjamin)
Abdul Rasool (“servant of the messenger” in Arabic)
Jibreel (Arabic form of Gabriel)
*The Gulf News believes some of the names were included for political reasons — Abdul Nasser because of Egypt’s second president Gamal Abdel Nasser, for instance, and Binyamin because of Israeli’s current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.