Shortlisted titles under “Arab Culture in Non-Arabic Languages” category announced

Abu Dhabi,

Abu Dhabi, March 25, 2013 – the Arab World’s most prestigious literary award announced the shortlisted candidates under “Arab Culture in Non-Arab Languages”. The category has been devised to honor distinguished authors and cultural ambassadors who are capable of show-casing the rich nature of the historical and literary connections that have entangled the histories of East and West through their writings.

English, German and Chinese were the main languages assigned for the seventh session, while English will be the standard language of works accepted for forthcoming sessions. 'The new category attracted significant attention since its introduction prior to the Award’s 7th session' Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s Secretary General, elaborated. 'We received several distinguished works from authors and cultural bodies which were filtered down to three finalists', Bin Tamim added.

The shortlisted works include one work in each of the three languages as follows: German Language Professor Angelika Neuwirth's study on understanding Qur'an from a European viewpoint presented in her book 'Der Koran als Text der Sp?tantike Ein europ?ischer Zugang' (The Qur'an as a text in the historical context of Late Antiquity). The study is published by Verlag der Weltreligionen (2010). Angelika Neuwirth is a one of the world’s leading scholars of the Qur'an. Her research focuses on classical and modern Arabic literature and the Qur'an during Late Antiquity. Currently, Neuwirth heads the Corpus Coranicum research project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The aim of the project is to document the hand-written and oral traditions of the Qur'an in order to develop a better contextual understanding in the West.

Chinese Language Researcher and Author Ma Ming Liang's Study (The Historical Path of Islamic Civilization and its Progress Towards Realism). Published by the Social Sciences Publishing House in Beijing (2012). The book explores the Islamic civilization over a period of 30 years of study, offering a closer look at Islam and the national element. The author masterfully deliberated various aspects of the Islamic culture and its relationship with the people of Khoi and Salar. The study covers numerous topics of cultural significance, including a thorough assessment of the concept of justice in Islamic civilizations versus that in the West; views on cooperation between Islamic and Chinese civilizations in light of globalization, and in-depth comparisons between Islamic culture and the moral teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. The Author critically analyses the U.S. and global strategy towards the Middle East post Cold War, and investigates key areas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This rich study offers a closer look to Islam and the national element in the development of Shanghai, where Liang attempts to discuss the real aim behind learning Arabic in light of the new conditions.

English Language Writer and critic Marina Warner's 'Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights' Published by Vintage Books (2012), and Chatto and Windus in 2011. The author is one of the distinguished cultural historians in the world on the subject of myth, fairytale and folk narrative and art. Her book tells the story of the Arabian Nights in Western Civilization from a thoroughly new and, until recently, little understood angle. Warner retells a number of the tales in her own words with a verve that brings them to life in contemporary idiom. Upon these retellings she constructs a nuanced view of the ways in which the benign magic and enchantment of the stories affected the reception and ideas of magic and enchantment in the West, even during the period of the Enlightenment – a period more naturally associated with reason and science. She is thoroughly versed in the complex history of the Nights corpus and constructs upon this foundation a new vision of the way the West has been in thrall to images and ideas from Arab, and more generally Eastern culture in the 18th through to the 20th century.

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 Dh7 million - with Dh750,000 per winner (equivalent to USD 204,217,50) in all eight categories (including the Arab Culture in non- Arabic languages category). In addition to Dh1 million for the Cultural personality of the year. The winners also receives a certificate of merit and a Gold Medal. The seventh session witnessed a record of nominations amounting to more than 1262 across the Award’s nine categories – doubling over last session’s record. The full list of winners is scheduled for announcement in a press conference on April 2, 2013, to be followed by the Award’s Ceremony, celebrating the winning achievements, on April 28, 2013.