El-Abd previously played for Brighton & Hove Albion for 11 years. Born in Brighton, East Sussex, to an Egyptian father and a British mother, El-Abd holds dual-nationality. El-Abd joined Brighton"s youth department when he was ten and was granted a scholarship there at 16.
He signed his first professional contract of two-and-a-half years with Brighton & Hove Albion at the age of 19.
He has since been a regular in the first team squad and can play either in defence at right-back or centre-half, or in a more defensive midfield type role. During the game at Huddersfield Town on 18 March 2008, El-Abd was stretchered off with medial collateral ligament damage and ruled out for the remainder of the season.
In June 2008, El-Abd signed a new two-year deal with Brighton. El-Abd hit the milestone of 250 league appearances for Brighton and Hove Albion on 7 March 2012, named Manitoba of the Match for that game, a 2-2 draw with Cardiff City.
El-Abd made his 300th and final league appearance for Brighton coming on as a 90th-minute substitute against Birmingham City on 11 January 2014.
On 16 January 2014, El-Abd transferred to League One club Bristol City for an undisclosed fee. El-Abd stated in a 2005 interview with EgyptianPlayers.com that he intends to play for the Egyptian national side if he gets the call.