Submissions Open for 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award, One of the World’s Most Prestigious and Lucrative Literary Prizes

Abu Dhabi,

Winners across nine categories will each receive a career-changing prize of AED 750,000 (USD 204,000) 

Closing date for submissions is 1 October 2020 

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the Arab world’s most prestigious literary prizes, is now accepting submissions for its 2021 edition. Each winner of the Award’s nine categories will receive prize money of 750,000 UAE dirhams (204,000 USD) to both recognise and further enable their creative and cultural achievements.

Now in its 15th year, the Award, which has been described as the “the Arab world’s equivalent to the Nobel prize”, has a reputation for highlighting the most exciting, and often the most challenging, works from and about the Arab world. Each edition sees writers, translators, academics, publishers, and cultural organisations from around the world awarded for their exceptional contributions to advancing Arabic literature and culture.

His Excellency Saood Al Hosani, Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, said: “The Sheikh Zayed Book Award continues to celebrate the literary pioneers and thought leaders who play a pivotal role in both highlighting and adding to the richness of Arab culture, opening ever broader horizons for creative innovation. Those we are honouring have contributed greatly to building bridges of communication and dialogue between the many different cultures of the world, in the spirit of our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed, after whom this Award was named and who greatly believed in the power of the twin pillars of knowledge and culture. We look forward to continuing our mission in future editions of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, using this preeminent platform to honour yet more of our most vibrant and creative contemporary minds.”

“During this current global crisis, we have been reminded that no matter what happens, culture adapts to the most difficult of circumstances, and endures,” commented Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Authority. “As the rich cultural life of the Arab world continues to flourish, I urge writers, publishers and scholars around the world to bring the fruits of their labour to the judges’ attention. We look forward to appraising the submissions for what is sure to be another fresh and exciting edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.”

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award consists of nine categories, representing the range and breadth of Arab culture:

  • Literature (including both fiction and poetry)
  • Young Author (for writers under the age of 40)
  • Children’s Literature
  • Cultural Personality of the Year
  • Publishing and Technology
  • Arabic Culture in Other Languages
  • Translation (either into or from Arabic)
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations
Authors, publishers, translators and organsations of any nationality can make submissions, which are welcomed from all countries in Arabic and other languages. More information about the individual categories, and the online submission process, is available on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award website.

Previous esteemed and high-profile winners of the Award include Dame Marina Warner (UK), Amin Maalouf (France), Banipal Magazine (UK), Professor Philip Kennedy (USA), and the Institut du Monde Arab (France). 

French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf (Cultural Personality of the Year, 2016) commented, “In such difficult times, it is more important than ever to focus on books and on cultural values. They alone can provide us with the moral compass we so desperately need to move on with our eyes wide open.”

Winning the Award has enabled writers and organisations to expand and develop their projects. This includes recent winner Banipal Magazine (Publishing, 2020), who have used the prize money to fund their network of writers, translators, editors and printers and promote the publication to reach new audiences.