Dissatisfied with his job as a metalworker, Hamed Owais enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Cairo, graduating in 1944. Afterward he studied at the Institute of Art Education in Cairo under Youssef el-Afifi. In 1947, Owais co-founded the Group of Modern Art with artists including Gamal el-Sigini (1917–1977), Gazbia Sirry (b. 1925), Zeinab Abdel Hamid (1919–2002), and Youssef Sida (1922–1994), which looked to the lives of everyday Egyptians and viewed art as a revolutionary agent of social change. Owais painted the struggles of the Egyptian working class using a color palette inspired by the city of Cairo. A turning point for Owais’s practice was a trip to the 1952 Venice Biennale (his work was shown in the 1952, 1954, and 1956 editions), where he encountered Italian social realism. He would later find strong affinities with the Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivera (1886–1957). In 1956 he won the Guggenheim International Prize. Owais was appointed a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria in 1958, serving as its head from 1977 to 1979. From 1967 to 1969, Owais studied in Madrid at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando).