Egypt has a long artistic tradition. Poetry, music, sculpture and decorative arts are part of the culture. The ancient Egyptians enjoyed music and singing. They used harps, lutes and other stringed instruments to accompany their singing. Much of the poetry of ancient Egypt is religious. Some poems resemble the Psalms in the Bible. Ancient writers created many stories that featured imaginary characters, settings or events and were clearly meant to entertain.

Poetry is still very popular in Egypt. Many folk poems are memorized and recited. Most Egyptians read more magazines than books. The short story is also popular.

Music and dance are important to the Egyptians. They enjoy classical music, folk songs and dancing, which is customarily segregated for men and women. The folk songs celebrate the different seasons or stages of the agricultural cycle. They are sung at weddings and festivals where people sing and dance with enthusiasm.

Over the last century, Egyptian art forms have combined the rich heritage of the pharaohs and western cultural influences. These combined influences are evident in movies, novels and paintings. Today, Egypt is the centre of the Arab publishing and film industries.

Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988. His famous works are Midaq Alley, Palace of Longing, Between Two Palaces and The Sugar Alley.

Russian influence on Egyptian culture has led to the establishment of the Cairo Ballet Company.

Did you know?

The Great Sphinx was carved about 4500 years ago and is believed to represent either King Khafre or the god Re-Harakhte. It has a human head and a lion's body. It is 73 metres long and about 20 metres high.