16th Sheikh Zayed Book Award Receives Largest Ever Number of Submissions

Abu Dhabi,

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, has closed submissions for its 16th edition (2021/22), having received a total of more than 3,000 submissions –  the largest ever number of applications submitted across the Award’s nine categories since its launch. 

Submissions have been received from 55 countries, 20 of which are Arab nations and 35 are various countries around the world. This marks a 28% increase from the 2,349 works received last year. The Award also recorded a significant turnout from young authors spanning the globe. 

The Award’s Reading Panel Committee, headed by His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Tamim, ALC Chairman and Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, has also concluded its meetings, where submissions for the Award were presented and evaluated based on their compliance with conditions and criteria. Long-listed entries will be announced in mid-November 2021.

The Committee consists of Dr. Ali Al Kaabi from the UAE, Dr. Khalil Al Sheikh, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Jordan’s Yarmouk University, and Emirati literary critic and poet Sultan Al Amimi, both Members of the SZBA Scientific Committee.

“We are delighted to have recorded an unprecedented turnout for the latest edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, evidence that we continue to successfully boost the Award’s regional and international standing as a powerful platform for promoting cultural dialogue and creative openness,” said H.E. Dr. bin Tamim. “A beacon for intellectuals and creative minds from around the world, it is our mission to recognise and promote those inspiring works that enrich cultural and literary life and leave a memorable legacy for all of humanity. As we prepare to celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, highlighting our nation’s significant achievements in so many areas, we are proud that the Award can contribute to this greatness in its own way, in its role as a catalyst for creativity and cross cultural understanding.”

Submissions to the 16th SZBA included entries from three countries participating in the Award for the first time: Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, and Uganda. Egypt topped the list of countries of origin for Arab participants, followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the UAE, Morocco, and Lebanon. The highest numbers for submissions in other languages came from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, Italy, and Spain.

The category of the Award with the highest number of submissions was ‘Young Author’, accounting for 27% of all nominations this edition with a total of 881. ‘Literature’ came in a close second place with 852 nominations (26% of the total), followed by ‘Contribution to the Development of Nations’, ‘Arts & Literary Criticism’, ‘Children’s Literature’, ‘Arab Culture in Other Languages’, ‘Translation’, ‘Publishing & Technology’, and finally ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’.

The ‘Arab Culture in Other Languages’ category witnessed remarkable growth in the number of participants this year, with a total of 188 submissions. The largest share of applications was in English, followed by French, Russian, and then German.

Notably, the number of female participants rose to 920 this year, a 76% increase compared to the 520 women who participated last year. Meanwhile, 1,974 men submitted entries to this year’s edition, up 47% from the previous edition’s 1,340 male participants.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award honours the outstanding achievements of innovators and thinkers in literature, arts, and humanities in Arabic and other languages. Launched in 2006, the Award aims to advance Arabic literature and culture, providing new opportunities for Arabic language writers. Authors writing about Arab culture and civilisation in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian are also recognised by the Award.