Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces Winners of its 18th Edition

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE,the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has announced winners of its 18th edition following a meeting of its Board of Trustees.

The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the SZBA Board of Trustees, and attended by Board Members H.E. Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Cultural Adviser to H.H. the President of the UAE; H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi; H.E. Saood Al Hosani, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi; H.E. Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Secretary General of the SZBA and Chairman of ALC; H.E. Abdulla Majed Al Ali, Director-General of the National Library and Archives; and Abdulrahman Mohamed Alnaqbi, Literary Award Department Director at ALC.

H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, said: “Through ALC’s various initiatives, we seek to promote Arabic language proficiency and ensure greater cultural understanding. For 18 years, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has played a pivotal role in supporting our efforts to enrich cultural and intellectual creativity worldwide while providing a platform for writers, translators, academics and organisations to reach global audiences. Through this platform, we are celebrating Arabic-speaking writers and authors who write about Arab culture and civilisation, collectively  advancing our intellectual and cultural heritage.”

H.E. Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language CentreSecretary General of the SZBA, said: “Since its inception, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has been an influential catalyst for the Arab cultural scene, actively contributing to the revitalisation of literary and poetic movements as well as translation efforts. We are proud to spotlight landmark projects and works from great minds around the world which have greatly impressed and inspired us. We congratulate this year’s winners and invite all creators to participate in the next edition of the Award, offering them the opportunity to make their contribution towards enriching the wider cultural scene.”

The winner of the Literature category of the Award is Egyptian writer Reem Bassiouney for her novel ‘Al Halwani...Thulathiyat al-Fatimiyeen’ (Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy), published by Nahdet Misr Publishing, Printing and Distribution in 2022. Bassiouney is working on a project to write historical novels about Egypt in the Middle Ages, where she seeks to shed light on the Egyptian character with narratives that intertwine poetry, architecture, and mythology, while underscoring the human dimension. The author works to construct the narrative of historical and social development in Egypt in that era, using a narrative tone that aligns with the nature of that extended historical period and its intellectual and social dimensions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Houssem Eddine Chachia from Tunisia won the SZBA in the Young Author category for his work ‘Al Mashhad al-Moriski: Sardiyat al-Tard fi al-Fikr al-Espani’ (The Morisco Landscape Narratives of Expulsion in Modern Spanish Thought), issued by the Centre for Research and Knowledge Intercommunication in 2023. The work sheds light on the expulsion of the Moriscos who had remained in Spain, addressing its socio-cultural dimensions, and exploring the relation between memory and historic identity. The researcher makes a notable effort in investigating and documenting facts, while ensuring analytical and critical presentation. The study presents historical material documented in Spanish on the subject, offering an interdisciplinary historical study into civilisations and their relationships from a scientific perspective.

The Editing of Arabic Manuscripts category saw Dr. Mustafa Said from Egypt win for his study titled ‘Safinat al-Mulk wa-Nafisat al-Fulk (Shehab al-Din) al-Muwashah wa-Musiqa al-Maqam al-Natiqa bil-Arabiya bayn al-Tantheer wal-Maras’ (The Ship of Possession and the Precious Ship (Shehab al-Din) - Muwashah and Arabic-speaking Maqam Music between Theory and Practice), published by ElAin Publishing in 2023. The researcher conducted a comprehensive methodological study, showcasing his scientific acumen and enhanced prowess to analyse, understand, and critique. Dr. Said’s work makes it evident that he made a significant effort to organise his report and present information clearly to the reader. Remarkably this study stands out as the first comprehensive report from a scientific point of view and includes an in-depth study and statistical charts of melodies and connections.

Moreover, the winner of the Contribution to the Development of Nations category is Dr. Khalifa Alromaithi from the UAE, who won for his book: ‘Al-Asmaa’ al-Jughrafiya – Thakirat Ajyal’ (Geographical Names – Legacy of Generations), published by Austin Macauley Publishers in 2022. The book is characterised by its scientific spirit, accuracy of its language, and clarity of its style. It constitutes a study of geographical names in the United Arab Emirates, providing a reference for researchers into the subject. The author combines a historical and geographical approach, relying on data, numbers, maps, and historical tracing, making it a work of outstanding distinction and precision.

In the Translation category of the Award, the winner was Dr. Ahmed Somai from Tunisia, for his translation of ‘Al-Ilm al-Jadeed’ (La Scienza Nuova – The New Science), authored by Giambattista Vico, translated from Italian into Arabic, and published by Adab Publishing and Distribution in 2022. Dr. Somai stands out for skilfully transferring the terminology, structure, formulation, and context in which it was mentioned in Arabic. Furthermore, the translator included a notable introduction, as well as extensive annotations to help clarify the ideas and information presented in the text, making his translation a significant addition for the Arabic library.

Meanwhile, Frank Griffel won in the Arab Culture in Other Languages category for his book ‘The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam’, published in English by Oxford University Press in 2021. The book sheds light on the key contributions of Islamic philosophy and its impact on subsequent developments in theology, science, and literature. It covers the developments that led to reshaping philosophical discourse in Islam during the 12th century. Griffel highlights figures who spoke in depth about philosophy in that era, delving into metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, and the intricate relationship between reason and revelation. One of the most innovative ideas expressed in the book is the combination of Greek philosophical ideas with Arab and Islamic schools of thought; it explains how scholars like Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina attempted to reconcile these diverse traditions. The book also reviews the figures and movements that influenced Islamic philosophy, making it a valuable contribution to understanding post-classical eras in Islamic philosophy.

The Publishing and Technology category saw China-based Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries win the Award. The group aims to establish a cultural bridge that tells China’s story and history, promoting cross-cultural dialogue between China and the Arab world. Since its establishment, the group has translated and published more than 300 books and publications, in addition to a vast number of documents and newspapers. These efforts have allowed Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries to compile a large database of Chinese and Arabic linguistic inventory, which can be employed to serve cultural endeavours on both the Chinese and Arab sides.

The group is an integrated cultural project operating in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and China. In just a few years, it has managed to build Arab, regional, and international knowledge bridges through its branches and projects that focus on connecting the Middle East with the Far East and establishing rooted knowledge through publishing, translation, education, visual media, cultural industries, and trade. The group includes a comprehensive children's library comprising books and stories for children and adolescents, ranging from illustrated stories to skill development books, educational resources, and motivational educational novels for adolescents.

Submissions for the 18th edition were the highest in the Award’s history, with a total of 4,240 nominations received, marking a 35% increase over last year’s 3,151 submissions. Additionally, the number of participating countries grew to 74, including 19 Arab nations and 55 countries from around the world.

 

The winner of the Cultural Personality of the Year award will be announced in the upcoming few weeks. The winners will be honoured at a ceremony organised by the ALC during the 33rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which is held annually at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

 

 

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is organised annually by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre to honour the pioneering cultural legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE. The Award honours intellectuals, creators, publishers, and youth for their contributions to the fields of development, authorship, and translation that have had a clear impact on cultural, literary, and social life, based on scientific and objective criteria.


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