Famed Egyptian poet El Abnoudy, inspired by folklore and rural life, dies at 77

State media says Egyptian poet Abdel Rahman El Abnoudy, who channeled folklore and rural life into verses that touched the Arab world, has died at 77 after a long illness.

He was known for writing in the Egyptian dialect and penning lyrics for beloved singers such as Abdel Halim Hafez. He was imprisoned under socialist President Gamal Abdel-Nasser but later praised him for his attention to the poor.

State newspaper al-Ahram says he died Tuesday and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi mourned his death in a statement, calling him a defender of civilization and values whose words and spirit would live on. The statement said he called El Abnoudy's family to express condolences.