Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces its Cultural Programme for Frankfurt Book Fair 2022

Abu Dhabi,

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA), an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), is taking part in the Frankfurt Book Fair 2022 in Germany with an agenda that includes two expert-led panel discussions and a networking reception.

This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair will be held under the theme ‘Words connect worlds: Translate. Transfer. Transform’. SZBA’s agenda for the event, organised in collaboration with Publishing Perspectives, a US-based magazine focussing on the global book industry, and German cultural institution Litprom, an association of professionals in publishing-related fields, will underpin the main theme. The discussions are designed to highlight opportunities and challenges for international publishers entering the Arab market, as well as developments taking place in the Arabic literary world today.

His Excellency Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Secretary-General of SZBA and Chairman of the ALC, said: “We are proud to again be participating in the Frankfurt Book Fair, which offers a prominent platform for us to expand further into leading international markets, strengthen our communication with decisionmakers in the publishing and cultural sectors, access the industry’s latest technologies, and share our own innovations and expertise with the global publishing community. Our continued participation reflects our close cultural ties with Germany, a country which we have partnered with in a series of notable projects, and which served as our guest of honour at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair for two consecutive years.”

“The Award is an enabler of this exchange of culture and experiences between Germany and our region,” H.E. bin Tamim added. “The SZBA recognises and honours individuals and organisations who have made a difference in terms of connecting our cultures, underlining the role and significance of Arabic literature to German and international readers and book trade markets.”

The first of the two panel discussions, titled ‘Growing the Book Business in the Arab World’, will take place on 19 October in collaboration with Publishing Perspectives Forum at the Congress Center, Level 2, at 2:00 pm (German time). Moderated by Hannah Johnson, Publisher of Publishing Perspectives, the session brings together Sherif Bakr, Publisher at Al Arabi Publishing and Distributing in Egypt, and Shereen Kreidieh, Publisher at Dar Asala in Lebanon, which specialises in Arabic children’s books. The panellists will explore the potential, challenges, and complex business environment that the Arab world presents publishers.

The agenda continues on 20 October with a Networking Reception at the ALC stand,  Hall 4, Booth number H2 at 2:00 pm (German time), organised jointly by SZBA and ALC for publishers, stakeholders, translators, media representatives, and key partners. The event offers an opportunity to learn more about the annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award, as well as the year-round Translation Fund available for international publishers to translate SZBA-winning and shortlisted works into world languages. Representatives from the SZBA and the ALC will be on hand discuss the various Arabic literary initiatives the Centre oversees.

The second panel discussion on 21 October at Frankfurt Studio, Hall 4, at 5:00 pm (German time), is titled ‘Coffeehouse to Internet: Arabic Literature in Transition’, which will feature the author Maisoon Saqer to talk about her Sheikh Zayed Book Award-winning work ‘Café Riche: An Eye on Egypt’. Moderated by the German translator and journalist Stefan Weidner, the panel also includes Samir Grees, translator, writer and author of an Arabic book about Günter Grass, and Sonja Hegasy, Deputy Director of the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.

The session explores café culture in Cairo, especially the famous Café Riche, a key hub in Egypt’s cultural movement for over a century. The panel will also discuss the challenges facing Arabic literature and the transformations that are taking place in modern times, including the shift away from the previous cultural centres in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut towards the Arab Gulf states, and a comparison between the role of social media and that of traditional cultural cafés.

The Translation Grant 

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award will use its presence at Frankfurt Book Fair to showcase titles that have benefitted from its Translation Grant. Since its launch in 2018, the Grant has funded the translation of more than 20 books into multiple languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Georgian and Ukrainian.

The Grant aims to increase the number of Arabic books that are translated, published and distributed outside the Arab region. The initiative supports the translation of literary works and children’s books that have won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award as well as those that have been shortlisted.