The Sheikh Zayed Book Awards Ceremony, celebrated as the most important cultural event in the Arab region, took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in the presence of dignitaries, prominent public figures, and members of Arab and international literary circles.
The ceremony was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Counselor, and Vice Chairman of Executive Council who honoured the ceremony by his presence and handed the awards to the winners.
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is the richest literary competition in the world, and is an independent cultural award administered by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority with a total monetary value of seven million dirhams. Established in memory of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan who served as the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE for more than 30 years, since its launch in 2007, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has succeeded in fostering greater scholarship and creativity by recognising and rewarding significant cultural achievements to Arabic culture, actively changing the Arab literary landscape. This year has seen 1262 nominations across all 9 categories, doubling over last session’s record.
Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, gave a moving speech highlighting the immense work the winners had put into their respective books.
“We have developed the award to continue to strive towards achieving its objectives, to spread regionally and globally from its home, the United Arab Emirates, carrying the name of the late, great His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The award seeks to continue to spread the power of the word in honoring, appreciating and encouraging the works of the writers, supporting creativity and promoting a culture of open channels of communication with the rest of the world.” “We are responsible to keep the light of knowledge and culture burning for all.” Dr. Tamim acknowledged the presence of Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb Grand Imam of Al Azhar for his influence on Arab culture.
Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the winner of Cultural Personality of the Year Award, said a few words in honour of the awards and the award winners, “My deepest gratitude goes to H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan for this honour”.
He proceeded to speak of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Nahyan and his great achievements that touched Egypt during and after his lifetime including schools, such as the Sheikh Zayed centre for Arabic, and other educational institutions. “This award is essential to continue our path in promoting our culture and heritage. Knowledge and education will keep us all on the path of moderation, tolerance and peace.”
The awards were handed to the winners by H.H. Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as follows:
Winner of the ‘Contribution to the Development of Nations’ Award Contemporary Arab Thought (Al Fikr al ‘Arabi al Mu’aser) Elizabeth Kassab from Lebanon Published by Centre for Arab Unity Studies, Beirut 2012 “Surely, the award for me is a great reward and a wonderful recognition. It is also a tribute to all the men and women whose work I examined in the book, thinkers who had the moral and intellectual courage to think for themselves critically under the most adverse circumstances.”
Winner of the’ Young Author’ Award ‘Falsafat Jeel Deleuze’ (Deleuze philosophy on Existentialism and Difference) Adil Hadjami from Morocco Published by Dar Toubkal, Casablanca 2012.
“I am very fortunate to have received this award so early in my career. It has given me the confidence and resources to develop my work and to take it to a level I previously wouldn’t even think of reaching.”
Winner of the ‘Translation’ Award Being and Time (German: Sein und Zeit, 1927) by Martin Heidegger. Translated into Arabic by Fathi Meskini from Tunisia Published by Dar al Kitab Al Jadid, Beirut 2012.
“Nothing is untranslatable. Every idea or thought is a representation of a popular belief, and is transferrable from one nation to another. This is an essential part of humanity”
Winner of the ‘Literary and Art Criticism’ Award ‘Al Takhayol Al Tarikhi’ (Historic Visualization) Abdullah Ibrahim from Iraq Published by Arab Association for Studies and Publishing, Beirut 2011
“This award recognizes the extreme hard work of researchers and scholars and exemplifies what book awards should represent.”
Winner of the ‘Arab Culture in Non-Arabic Languages’ Award ‘Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights’ Writer and Critic Marina Warner from UK Published by Vintage Books (2012) and Chatto and Windus in 2011.
Warner’s goddaughter accepted the award on her behalf. Marina Warner said via phone from the UK, “It is wonderful to be given this mark of recognition from this part of the world. Wonderful and unexpected. I loved writing about the Nights – they have given me the most enjoyable years of research I have ever had and it is very encouraging if I have managed to convey some of that pleasure and interest I found in them.”
Winner of the ‘Publishing and Technology’ Award
National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature, Kuwait
Winner of the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ Award
Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, Al Azhar, Egypt
The Awards for “Literature” and “Children’s Literature” were withheld for the seventh session as this year’s nominations in these categories did not meet the Award’s standards and criteria for winning.