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Ahmed Shawqi

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Ahmed Shawqi
أحمد شوقي

Amīr al-Shu‘arā’
Portrait of Ahmed Shawqi.
Portrait of Ahmed Shawqi.
Born(1868-10-17)October 17, 1868
Cairo, Khedivate of Egypt
DiedOctober 14, 1932(1932-10-14) (aged 63)
Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
OccupationPoet, playwright
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Université Montpellier
Literary movementArab Neoclassicism

Ahmed Shawqi (Arabic: أحمد شوقي, ALA-LC: Aḥmad Shawqī, Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ˈʔæħmæd ˈʃæwʔi]; 1868–1932), nicknamed the Prince of Poets (Arabic: أمير الشعراء Amīr al-Shu‘arā’), was an Egyptian poet laureate, Linguist, and one of the most famous Arabic literary writers of the modern era in the Arab World.[1]


Raised in a wealthy family of mixed Egyptian, Circassian, Turkish, Kurdish, and Greek roots,[2][3][4] his family was prominent and well-connected with the court of the Khedive of Egypt. Upon graduating from high school, he attended law school, obtaining a degree in translation. Shawqi was then offered a job in the court of the Khedive Abbas II, who was the khedive of Egypt, which he immediately accepted.

After a year working in the court of the Khedive, Shawqi was sent to continue his studies in Law at the Universities of Montpellier and Paris for three years. While in France, he was heavily influenced by the works of French playwrights, most notably Molière and Racine. He returned to Egypt in 1894, and remained a prominent member of Arab literary culture until the British forced him into exile in southern Spain, Andalusia, in 1914. Shawqi remained there until 1920, when he returned to Egypt. In 1927 he was crowned by his peers Amir al-Sho’araa’ (literally, "the Prince of Poets") in recognition of his considerable contributions to the literary field.

He used to live in ‘Karmet Ibn Hani’ or Ibn Hani’s Vineyard at Al-Matariyyah area near the palace of the Khedive Abbas II at Saray El-Qobba until he was exiled. After returning to Egypt he built a new house at Giza which he named the new Karmet Ibn Hani.[5] He met Mohammed Abdel Wahab, and introduced him for the first time to art, making him his protégé as he gave him a suite in his house. The house later on became Ahmed Shawki Museum and Mohammed Abdel Wahab became one of the most famous Egyptian composers.


Monument of Shawqi in Villa Borghese, Rome by Egyptian Sculptor Gamal El-Sagini

Shawqi’s work can be categorized into three main periods during his career. The first coincides with the period during which he occupied a position at the court of the Khedive, consisting of eulogies to the Khedive: praising him or supporting his policy. The second comprised the period of his exile in Spain. During this period, his feeling of nostalgia and sense of alienation directed his poetic talent to patriotic poems on Egypt as well as the Arab world and panarabism. The third stage occurred after his return from exile, during that period he became preoccupied with the glorious history of Ancient Egypt and Islam. This was the period during which he wrote his religious poems, in praise of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The maturation of his poetic style was also reflected in his plays, the most notable of which were published during this period.


Shawqi was the first in modern Arabic literature to write poetic plays. He wrote five tragedies:

and two comedies:

  • El-Set Huda (Madame Huda)
  • El-Bakhila (the Miser-ette)

in addition to a prose play: the Princess of Andalusia.

Ahmed Shawki Museum, Egypt


  • Esh-Shawqiyyat, his selected works, in four volumes, including Nahj al-Burda, a tribute to Muhammad.
  • The States of Arabs and the Great Men of Islam, A long poem about the History of Islam.
  • Poetic Stories for Children, inspired by the famous French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine.


He also wrote chapters of prose, collected under the title The Markets of Gold.


Ahmed Shawqi is considered as a "greatest" poet within the Arabic Neoclassicist movement by scholars.[6]

Shawqi's work was a part of some of the Nahda's main literary and cultural debates, in which tradition, authenticity, and formality were positioned against experimentation, vulgarity, and Westernization.[7]: 249–251 Shawqi faced sharp criticism from writers such as Muhammad al-Muwaylihi, who saw Shawqi's innovative work, particularly after the publication of ash-Shawqiyat, as heretical, boastful, vulgar, Westernized, and unworthy of the proud tradition of classical Arabic poetry.[7]: 249–251 


Karmat Ibn Hani', Ahmed Shawqi's home in Giza, was converted into the Ahmed Shawki Museum on 17 June 1977.[8]

Shawqi's work is regularly celebrated at the El Sawy Culture Wheel, a cultural center in Cairo.

The web search engine company Google uploaded a Google Doodle, a limited-time variant of their logo, to memorialize Shawqi in advance of what would have been his 142nd birthday on 16 October 2010.[9] The art featured a quote from Shawqi's poetry in place of the "oo" in the Google logo, which in English translates to:

My homeland is always in my mind even if I were in paradise.[9]

There are two roads named for Ahmed Shawqi in Giza: Ahmed Shawqi Street, where the Ahmed Shawqi Museum is located;[10] and Ahmed Shawqi Corridor.[11] A number of statues have been created in the likeness of Shawqi, including one on Dokki Street in Giza and another at the Villa Borghese in Rome.

Shawqi's granddaughter Ikbal El-Alailly was a central figure in Egypt's surrealist poetry movement.[12][13] His other granddaughter Khadiga Riad was an abstract, surrealist painter.[14] An Egyptian postage stamp was issued in honour of Shawqi on 14 October 1957 to commemorate 25 years since his death.[15] Many books have been written on the life of Ahmed Shawqi.[16]


  1. ^ "Aḥmad Shawqī | Egyptian poet". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  2. ^ "نبذة عن الشاعر أحمد شوقي". موضوع (in Arabic). Retrieved 2023-06-30.
  3. ^ Goldschmidt, Arthur (2013), "Shawqi, Ahmad", Historical Dictionary of Egypt, Scarecrow Press, p. 381, ISBN 978-0810880252, Distinguished Arabic poet and playwright, often called Amir al-shu'ara (Prince of Poets). He came from wealthy family of mixed Turkish, Arab, Kurdish, and Greek origin that was closely connected to the khedivial family.
  4. ^ Shahid, Irfan (2010), "Ahmad Shawqi (1868–1932)", in Allen, Roger M. A.; Lowry, Joseph Edmund; Stewart, Devin J. (eds.), Essays in Arabic Literary Biography: 1850–1950, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, p. 305, ISBN 978-3447061414, Shawqi was born in Cairo in 1868 to a good middle class family in whose veins ran Turkish, Kurdish, Circassian, Greek, and Arab blood.
  5. ^ My Father Shawky by Hussin Ahmed Shawky 2nd edition (in arabic) General authority of culture palaces 2006 Cairo
  6. ^ Allen, R.M.A. (2012). "Arabic poetry". In Greene, Roland; et al. (eds.). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (4th rev. ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-691-15491-6.
  7. ^ a b Interpreting the self : autobiography in the Arabic literary tradition. Dwight Fletcher Reynolds, Kristen Brustad. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2001. ISBN 978-0-520-92611-0. OCLC 49851843.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ "Ahmed Shawqi". EgyptianMuseums. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Google Doodle Celebrates 'Prince of Poets' Ahmed Shawky". ArabLit. ArabLit Quarterly. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  10. ^ Boghiguian, Anna. "Ahmed Shawki Museum". Bidoun. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  11. ^ Alsobky, Alsayed; Hrkút, Patrik; Mikušová, Miroslava (November 2017). "A Smart Application for University Bus Routes Optimization". Intelligent Transport Systems - from Research and Development to the Market Uptake: 16. ISBN 9780761850489. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  12. ^ Rosemont, Penelope (2001). "Dada & Surrealism". Woman's Art Journal. 22 (2): 60. doi:10.2307/1358944. ISSN 0270-7993. JSTOR 1358944.
  13. ^ Rosemont, Penelope (1998). Surrealist Women. London: The Athlone Press. p. 192. ISBN 0485300885. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  14. ^ Aujourd'hui l'Egypte, Issue 1, 3-4 (in French). Organisme générale de l'information. 1986. p. 122.
  15. ^ "10m stamp of 1957 (#38266)". StampData. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Biblotica Alexandrina List of Books about Ahmed Shawki (in Arabic)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-20.

Further reading[edit]

  • Glimpses of Ahmed Shawqi’s Life and Works, Egypt Magazine, Issue No. 19-Fall 1999.

External links[edit]