Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1251, (18 - 24 June 2015)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1251, (18 - 24 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Brave new council

Voting on state awards was finally digitalised this year, reports Nevine El-Aref

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Culture Ministry’s Supreme Council of Culture (SCC) announced on Saturday the names of the 2015 state award winners in the fields of arts, literature and social sciences. For the first time since the creation of the state awards in 1958, members of the SCC voted via digital devices, speeding up the process – an initiative championed by the Cultural Development Fund (CDF).

CDF head Mohamed Abu Seada said the technology had been launched under then culture minister Gaber Asfour, with hardware and software to guarantee secret voting as well as software to put together a comprehensive database of the awards all through their history. Prior to voting, ministry committees debated whether or not SCC should use the new digital devices, with some lobbying for resuming the manual process on the grounds that they had not been trained to use the digital devices. SCC Secretary-General Mohamed Afifi responded by organising a training session last week, which only 18 out of the SCC’s 64 members attended. Of the rest those who needed it received last-minute training right before the voting session, when journalists were asked to leave the room for the duration, to follow the proceedings through an LCD screen in a neighbouring room – a tradition started by former  culture minister Emad Abu Ghazi had to encourage transparency following the 2011 Revolution.

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There are four classes of award: the Nile (formerly Mubarak) Award (LE400,000); the State Merit Award (LE200,000) – golden medal; the State Distinction Award (LE100,000) – silver medal; and the Incentive Award (LE50,000). The Nile Award, the most prestigious of all, saw the fiercest competition before it went to renowned novelist Gamal Al-Ghitani, actress Samiha Ayoub and philosopher Hassan Hanafi in literature, art and social sciences, respectively.

Four State Merit Awards in human sciences went to scholars Fathi Abu Ayana, Mohamed Sakran, Ali Barakat and Samih Shaalan, the latter the Dean of the Higher Institute of Theatre. Three were awarded in literature, to poet Hassan Teleb and novelists Ahmed Al-Sheikh and Fawziya Mahran. In art, the State Merit awards went to artist Nagui Shaker Antoun, violinist Hassan Sharara and renowned film director Said Marzouk. The State Distinction Awards in literature went to former CEO of the Egyptian Library and Archive Institute Abdel-Nasser Hassan and renowned playwright Bahig Ismail; a third was withheld. The Arts Awards went to renowned musician Hani Shenouda and artist Hussein Al-Ezabi. In social sciences the awards went to philosophy professor Mohebbat Mahmoud Hafez; a second award was withheld.

Of the 32 Incentive Awards, the eight for the arts went to artist Klay Qassem, composers Bassam Ahmed Halqa and Ahmed Bahieddin Al-Aasasy for their music related to prophet and saint anniversaries. Two more went to Khaled Walid Abdel-Shafi Raslan for his theatre criticism, specifically the book Al Taleea Fil Masrah Al-Masri: Min Al-Markaz Ila Al-Hamesh (The Vanguard of Egyptian Theatre: From Mainstream to Margin) and theatre director Gamal Yaqout for his play Al-Fadda Al-Mozdawaga Lel Doctor Balmi (Double silver for Doctor Balmy). Khaled Tokal and Hossam Gayel shared a prize for their book Tayseer Al-Nahou Al-Arabi (Simplifying Arabic Grammar). Poet Hassan Shehabeddin won a prize for his book Aala Benayat Al Khalil Ibn Ahmed (Above the construction of Al Khalil Ibn Ahmed’s Edifice). The awards for filmmaking, furniture design and architecture was withheld.

In child education Sayed Hashim Al-Kamahi won the award for his book Tales and Games for the Intelligent. The creativity and social science prize was awarded to the name of the late Anwar Abdel-Khaleq for the ninth edition of Al-Raghba (Desire). The award for science fiction and the novel speech were withheld. In social science the prize went to Hafez Shamseddin and Osman Abdel-Mohsen for their work on scientific thought and the creation of knowledge. In human rights the award went to Judge Tahani Al-Gebali for Al-Hemaya Al-Dostoureya li Mabdaa Al-Adala Al-Egtemaeya (The Constitutional Protection of the Social Rights Principle). Awards for financial policy, social policy and economic development, general policy, civil law and social legislations and agricultural law as well as criminal law and crime science and punishment were withheld.

Culture Minister Abdel-Wahed Al-Nabawi, who heads the SCC, is reportedly unfriendly with Afifi, whose tenure is due to end on June 25. After accepting Egypt’s cultural portfolio in March, Al-Nabawi was reluctant to prolong Afifi’s tenure for another year, according to sources close to the ministry. On the awards’ announcement Al-Nabawi thanked Afifi for his efforts during his tenure, confirming unofficial reports that the minister does not plan to renew his contract.

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