Rose to prominence during the beginning of the 20th century. He contributed much to the evolution of Arab music.
He designed shop signs on Mohammed Ali Street in Cairo. His travels throughout Syria, Baghdad, Istanbul, and Tunisia changed his life and his perspective on the musical arts.
He was well known for recomposing a number of popular international musicals such as "Tayes" and "Carmen," most of which were performed by the Mounira El Mahdeya troupe.
His father Mohammed Suleiman Alkhalai was also a musician who raised his son in a very musical environment. He began playing instruments before he was 10 years old.
He became prominent about a half century after fellow composer Richard Wagner.