The Sheikh Zayed Book Award announced accepting literary works in Japanese for the “Arabic Culture in Other Languages” category in its ninth session of 2014/2015. The category is devised to honor all written works in non-Arab languages about the Arabic civilization and culture.
The decision has been well received by Japanese academics and scholars and resonated positively with cultural, educational and academic entities in the Far Eastern Empire. The formulation of this new category stems from the Award’s solid belief in the immense value that foreign academic & research works add on to the affluent heritage of Arabic Culture and Literature, as they bring in a unique perspective that enriches the cultural dialogue and plays a key role in bridging the gap between civilizations.
Besides Japanese, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will accept works in English and Spanish for the ninth session. The door for nominations for this cycle will extend until 1st of September 2014.
Reflecting on the news, Professor Eiji Nagasawa from the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at The University of Tokyo commented: “We feel very much honored that the Executive Committee of Zayed Award decided to choose academic works written in Japanese of this year. We are of sure that the Arab studies by in Japan have developed for sixty years after the World War Two and their works have contributed to the enhancement of mutual understanding between Japan and the Arab world.”
Hiroshi Kato, Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo added: “I was deeply proud as a senior member of Japan Society of the Middle East Studies (JAMES) to hear that the Executive Committee of Zayed Award plan to give the Award to the Japanese researchers. JAMES was founded in 1985. Its purpose was to promote the Middle East studies and to spread the real culture and society of Middle Eastern countries among Japanese citizens. Now, the Society developed to have about 700 members, which is supposed to be the second biggest Society of the Middle East Studies after MESA (The Middle East Studies Association). The Society is remarkably characterized by the academic neutrality from “Orientalism”. The journal of the Society (Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies) published many articles on Arab culture mainly in Japanese language. I believe that the Award will encourage the Japanese researchers to study Arab culture, history and society. I hope that the Award will be a big step to promote the mutual understanding between Japan and the Arab world.”
From his side, Mr. Saeed Hamdan, Manager of Sheikh Zayed Book Award pointed out that the Award accept works in a selection of language for each session in addition to English which is the standard language of works accepted for all sessions in this category. “The Arabic and Japanese peoples have a lot in common, whether in terms of the rich heritage both carry or the immense body of cultural and literary works behind them. We are hoping the inclusion of the Japanese language for this session will further enrich the creative works accepted for this category and will help strengthen the ties between both civilizations and shed some light on the Japanese contributions and appreciation to Arabic Heritage”, Hamdan noted.
Since the establishment of the “Arabic Culture in Other Languages” category, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has accepted works of exceptional writers, intellectuals and orientalists in English, Russian, Italian, Chinese and German and named Mario Leverani from Italy, Marina Warner from UK winners of the category in 2014 and 2013 respectively. The Award has also named a number of internationally renowned cultural figures winners of the cultural personality of the year award including Spanish Professor Pedro Martinez Montavez, Chinese Orientalist Chung Jikon and Professor Denys Johnson Davies.
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s first installment was in 2007, intended to promote scholarship and creativity in Arab culture. It carries cash prizes totaling Dhs7 million – with Dh750,000 per winner (around USD 200,000.00) in all eight categories (including the Arab Culture in non- Arabic languages category). The winners also receive a certificate of merit and a Gold Medal.