Egypt's highest state awards in art, literature, and social sciences for 2021 were announced on 1 June, with writers Mohamed Salmawy, Bahaa Abdel-Meguid, novelist Mohamed El-Mansi Qandil, and Historian Mohammed Afifi among the top names of the winners.
The winners were announced after a digital vote took place at the Cairo Opera House, with attendees adhering to social distancing measures.
Though the list of winners was well received, the awards that were withheld raised a few eyebrows among the cultural community, as they deemed it a lost chance to honour the work of intellectual and artistic high achievers.
Members of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Culture (SCC) convened on Tuesday for the second time ever in the spacious 1,300-seater main hall of the Cairo Opera House to vote on the winners. The meeting was headed by Egypt’s Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem and head of the SCC Hisham Azmy.
The change of venue from the relatively small conference room at the SCC to the main hall of the Opera House was to make it easier to adhere to social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The members voted on 53 prizes worth a total of EGP 7.5 million (around $450,000), divided into four sections:
Here is the full list of winners:
The Nile Award
The Nile Award is the highest honour and is granted to three people in the fields of literature, arts, and social sciences. Each winner gets EGP 500,000 and a gold medal. A new award for the most creative Arab personality was added for the first time in 2018.
The Nile Award in Literature was given to writer Mohamed Salmawy.
The Nile Award in Arts was handed to Mostafa Abdel-Moeti.
The Nile Award in Social Sciences was withheld this year.
The Nile Award for the Most Creative Arab personality was awarded to Lebanese thinker and author Radwan Nayef Al-Sayed Mohamed Omar Khalil.
The Nile Award for a creative Arab personality was launched in 2018 in a bid to strengthen ties between Egypt and Arab creative minds.
The award carries a prize of EGP 200,000 and a gold medal.
The Appreciation Award in Arts went to Musician Rageh Daoud, Zeinab Mohamed Salem, and late TV writer Mostafa Moharram.
The Appreciation Award in Literature was awarded to writers Salwa Bakr, Mohamed El-Mansy Qandil, and Shawqi Hegab.
The Appreciation Awards in Social Sciences were awarded to historian Mohammed Afifi, Ahmed Yousef Ahmed, Sareya Abdel-Razek Sedky, and Ahmed Sakr Ashour.
The Excellency Award in Literature was granted to the name of late writer Bahaa Abdel-Meguid, who passed away from coronavirus, and novelist and writer Ahmed Abu-Khnegar.
The Excellency Award in Arts was handed to Mona El-Sabban and Sherif Mohyeldin.
The Excellency Award in Social Sciences was handed to Salman Taye, Alya El-Mahdy, and Wael Lotfy.
In addition to the previous awards, the SCC granted 32 encouragement awards, each one of them worth EGP 50,000.
There are 52 prizes worth a total of EGP 7.5 million (around $450,000) divided into four sections:
32 Encouragement Awards worth EGP 50,000.
7 Excellency Awards worth EGP 100,000 and a silver medal.
10 Appreciation Awards worth EGP 200,000 and a gold medal.
4 Nile Awards worth EGP 500,000 and a gold medal.
The 32 Encouragement Awards are divided as follows: eight for the arts, eight for literature, eight in 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 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 social sciences. This award was granted for the first time in 1999. Novelists Khairy Shalaby and Gamal El-Ghitani, poet Mohammed Afifi Mattar, and critic Gaber Asfour are among the past winners.
Finally, the four Nile Awards are divided as follows: one for the arts, one for literature, one for social sciences, and one for the Most Creative Arab personality. The Nile Award was originally named the Mubarak Award, but was changed in the aftermath of the 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 to date who have won the Nile Award.
The State Awards were launched in 1958 and have only been cancelled once, in 1967, during the Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel.