Members of Egypt's Supreme Council of Culture (SCC) will vote shortly Sunday on Egypt's highest state awards in the fields of art, literature, and social sciences ahead of the 53rd edition of the awards.
The persons who are allowed to vote on nominees for the prestigious State Awards are the 64 members of the SCC, half of them appointed as members due to their cultural contributions as writers, intellectuals or artists. The other half were appointed due to their positions as heads of Egyptian cultural institutions, along with the ministers of education and information, and university presidents.
The vote is headed by the Minister of Culture, Hemly El-Namnam and the secretary general of the SCC, Amal El-Sabban.
The SCC receives nominations for the State Awards from cultural institutions several months before its meeting.
Voting on the state awards is public and was digitized for the first time last year.
The voting was secret under the rule of president Hosni Mubarak, but former culture minister Emad Abu-Ghazi in 2011 opened deliberations to the public in order to promote transparency. The awards ceremonies have been aired each year since 2011.
Fifty-two awards will be given out, with prize money reaching EGP 7 million (around $1 million), and are divided into four sections:
— 32 Encouragement Awards of EGP 50,000 each
— 7 Excellency Awards of EGP 100,000 and a silver medal
— 10 Appreciation Awards of EGP 200,000 and a gold medal
— 3 Nile Awards of EGP 400,000 and a gold medal
The 32 Encouragement Awards are divided as follows: eight for the arts, eight for literature, eight in the social sciences, and eight for law and economic research.
Of the seven Excellency Awards, two are for the arts, two for literature and three for the social sciences. Political analyst Ammar Ali Hassan and economy expert Ahmed El-Naggar were among the winners of the prize last year.
The vote also includes 10 Appreciation Awards: three for the arts, three for literature and four for the social sciences. This award was granted for the first time in 1999. Novelists Khairy Shalaby, Gamal El-Ghitani, poet Mohammed Afifi Mattar, and critic Gaber Asfour are among past winners.
The three Nile Awards are divided as follows: one for the arts, one for literature and one for the social sciences. The Nile Award was originally named the Mubarak Award, but was changed in the aftermath of 25 January 2011 revolution that ousted president Hosni Mubarak from power.
Poet Abdel-Rahman El-Abnoudi, writers Bahaa Taher, Ibrahim Aslan and Waheed Hamed, and cinema director Youssef Chahine are the most prominent figures who have won the Nile Award.
The State Awards were launched in 1958 and have only been cancelled once, in 1967, during the Six Days War between Egypt and Israel.
The SCC is considered one of the most important institutions within Egypt's ministry of culture, responsible for setting ministry policy and organising ministry activities.