Sheikh Zayed Book Award Brings Packed Calendar of Seminars to Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2022

Abu Dhabi,

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), is participating in this year’s edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) with a packed schedule of seminars from 24th to 28th May. 

Now in its 16th edition, SZBA will be showcasing some of its key cultural achievements for the book fair visitors. This year, the awards received more than 3,000 entries from 55 countries around the world, including 20 Arab countries. The winners, seven writers and intellectuals, as well as an Egyptian publishing house, will receive their awards during a ceremony at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 24th May at 11am. 

A discussion titled ‘The Role of Arabic Literary Awards in Fostering an Effective Publishing Movement’ will be held at 5.30pm on the ADIBF Main Stage, Hall 11, E52 on the same day. The session will discuss the role of literary awards in stimulating the Arabic publishing and writing sector, as well as the importance of literary awards in popularising writers. Experts will also explore Arabic literary award initiatives for the global publication of Arabic literature and translation initiatives, debating how awards can be advanced to make a greater future impact, and what initiatives can be developed to support the book publishing industry in light of contemporary challenges.

The session will be attended by His Excellency Dr Ali Bin Tamim, Secretary-General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and Chairman of ALC; HE Ali Khalifa, Secretary-General of the Isa Award for Service and Humanity, Bahrain; HE Abdul Aziz Alsebail, Secretary-General of the King Faisal Prize, Saudi Arabia; Dr Taleb Al Rifai, Chairman of the Al Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story, Kuwait; Dr Hisham Azmi, Secretary-General of the Naguib Mahfouz Award, Egypt; and Asaad Abdel Rahman, Member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Director of the Palestine International Foundation.

A session titled ‘Crossing Borders: Arab Literature in the World Today’, held in collaboration with the cultural association Litprom, will take place on Wednesday 25th May at 2pm. It will highlight the contribution of Arab and contemporary writers to world literature, the role of awards and cultural initiatives in promoting literature, and other literature-related issues. Speakers include writer Iman Mersal, Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2021 Literature winner; Leila Chammaa, a German-Lebanese translator; and Laurenz Bolliger, Senior Editor at Hoffman Und Campe, along with moderator Stefan Weidner, the German literary critic and translator.

On the same day, SZBA will host a dialogue session with the winners of the 16th edition of the awards, chaired by HE Bin Tamim, and moderated by Dr Khalil Al Sheikh, a member of the SZBA Scientific Committee. 

This year’s SZBA saw the Literature Award go to Emirati poet and novelist Maisoon Saqer; the Children’s Literature Award to Syrian author Maria Daadoush; Young Author Award to Tunisian writer Dr Mohamed Al-Maztouri; Literary and Arts Criticism Award to Moroccan writer Mohamed Aldahi; Translation Award to Egyptian translator Dr Ahmed Aladawi; Arab Culture in Other languages Award to Iraqi-American scholar Dr Muhsin J. Al-Musawi; Publishing and Technology Award to Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, and the Cultural Personality of the Year Award to Dr Abdullah Al-Ghathami from Saudi Arabia.

Later at 7pm, the SZBA winners will sign copies of their books in the Book Signing Corner in Hall 11 of ADIBF. 

On Thursday 26th May at 10.30am, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi will host a seminar featuring past and present SZBA winners including Mohamed Aldahi, Maisoon Saqar, and Iman Mersal, as well as Hana Subhi, Professor of French Language and Literature at the university. Attendees will discuss topics related to their literary projects and the role of the SZBA in introducing and popularising Arabic literature.

On Friday 27th May at 3pm on the ADIBF Youth Stage, Hall 9, G46, a virtual event will discuss the extent to which SZBA has benefitted its winners in terms of exposure. Participants include Ahmed Rashad, CEO of Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah, Egypt; Renad Qubbaj, Director General of the Tamer Institute, Palestine, and Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. The panel will share insights into which Arabic books are selling well in their respective markets, and what genres and topics their readers are interested in. This event is produced in collaboration with the SZBA and hosted by international trade magazine Publishing Perspectives.

Then on Saturday 28th May at 1pm, audiences have an opportunity to meet with poet and writer Maisoon Saqr in a session entitled ‘A Culmination of a Creative Journey’ to explore her literary and artistic career and discuss her winning book ‘Eye on Egypt… Café Riche’, which won the 2022 Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the Literature category. The event is held in collaboration with Sea of Culture. 

At 7pm on the same day, Tunisian writer Dr Mohamed Al Maztouri, the SZBA 2022 Young Author winner, will take part in a literary discourse on ‘Bedouinism in Ancient Arabic Poetry’. The event, held in collaboration with Al Multaqa Literary Salon, will engage the audience in a conversation that explores his winning book.