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Prince Claus Award

The 2005 Prince Claus Award 


Lenin El-Ramly (1945, Egypt) is a comic dramatist who audaciously questions the social conventions, hypocrisies and bigotries of both Egyptian society and the Arab world. His work encompasses popular television dramas, experimental theatre, and an oeuvre of approximately 40 plays and 12 films. His dramatic techniques vary from farce and parody to satire and the absurd. El-Ramly has been granted the Prince Claus Award for his emphasis on political satire and comedy, and for maintaining a balance between popular entertainment and serious social, political and ideological satire.



Lenin El-Ramly is a comic dramatist with a career extending over 40 years. He began writing dramas for television in 1967 while still a student. His work is known for its combination of intellectual depth and entertainment. His play bi-l’-Arabi al-fasih (In Plain Arabic) was voted the best play of 1992 in Egypt. This play is ‘remarkable for its biting satire’ and self-critical attitude; it is ‘an honest, though painful portrait of modern Arab society’. His twelve film scripts include Hello America (1998), which deals with Egypt’s relationship with the USA and Islamic terrorism. El-Ramly’s works are performed throughout the Arab world and have been translated into other languages. He has also contributed articles and columns to popular newspapers. In addition, he has set up two drama troupes, and has educated and directed gifted amateurs. This award reflects the Fund’s theme of ‘Humour and Satire’. The jury particularly valued his work for its sympathetic attitude towards human weakness and its wide social appeal and impact.

Lenin El Ramly’s Award Ceremony Speech


When I contemplate my winning the Prince Claus Award, I do not find myself astonished. Truly, it is an award from the Netherlands and I am from Egypt, but my name is from Russia. My parents had nothing to do with Russia. They had never been there. Still, they felt that they were attracted to the mind of another human being, who lived a long way from their own land. Thus, they did not hesitate for a second to give their first first-born the Russian name of "Lenin". 


However, their first-born suffered a feeling of alienation. Writing was his means of overcoming such a feeling. Actually, writing is a means of communication with the “Other”. Still, the son – like his parents – did not feel that the “Other” was only his own fellow citizens. So, he wrote like those who put their message in a bottle and throw it to the sea. Some fellowmen of his nation picked it up, but still his message reached the shores of the Netherlands. To him, the Award indicates that, in spite of the barrier of place, language and heritage in part, there remains some common ground between us in Egypt and the “Other” in the Netherlands...or between the Netherlands and the “Other” in Egypt. It is my great pleasure to be one of many, who create the link between people, all over the world. 


​Hence, I am not only thanking the Dutch side for the happiness they gave me by my winning the Prince Claus Award, but also for their idea of such an award per se – an award dedicated to Africa, Asia and Latin America. I tell them: "Your message has reached our shores" And before closing my eyes, I shall tell my children: "Dream of a day in which all humanity would be swimming together in one sea".

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