Abu Dhabi, September 27, 2014 Following its successful trip to Japan, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award hosted a series of meetings and activities last week in the Spanish Capital of Madrid, as part of its international cultural program to promote the Award’s “Arabic Culture in Other Languages” category. The category is devised to honor all written works in non-Arab languages about the Arabic civilization and culture.
The Award’s delegation, comprising of Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Secretary General of the Award, in addition to Saeed Hamdan, Award’s Manager, and Dr. Mohammed Bennis, member of the Award’s Scientific Committee, had a number of meetings with an assembly of Spanish cultural and literary experts to examine the nominations contending to win the Award’s “Arabic Culture in Other Languages” prize in its ninth session of 2014/2015, and discuss opportunities of cooperation with Spanish literary institutions.
On the first day of the visit, U.A.E. Ambassador to Spain, Hessa Abdullah Al Otaiba hosted a business lunch on the occasion of the Award’s delegation’s visit where diplomats, cultural figures and scholars attended. During her speech, the Ambassador hailed the cultural projects launched by the UAE in the World capitals, specifically the Sheikh Zayed Book Award “making it one of the most celebrated prizes in the Arab World”.
During the Award’s meetings, the Spanish side was represented by The Director General of Politics and Cultural industries of the Book from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Spain, Mrs. Maria Teresa Lizaranzu, who stressed the importance of including Spanish as a new language category in the Sheikh Zayed Awards, not only for Spanish authors but also for Latin-American writers.
Other meeting attendees also included Professor Pedro Montavez, the renowned Spanish Arabist, scholar, translator and author, and Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s winner of the Cultural Personality of the Year Category in 2009; Luis Miguel Cañada, Director of the Toledo Translation School; and the scholar Mr. Federico Arabos.
The director general of Casa Árabe, Eduardo López Busquets, mentioned that “Spain is extremely happy with the initiative taken by Sheikh Zayed Award to accept for the first time in its history, literary works in Spanish and it is highly important to take into account that Spain is the point of meeting between the Arab World and Latin America.”
The Director General of Casa Árabe also commented that “this collaboration fits perfectly with the missions and goals of Casa Arabe institution. Casa Árabe was founded in 2006, it had worked relentlessly to build bridges, strengthen bilateral and multilateral political, educational and social relations, with the Arab and Muslim world. In other words, Casa Árabe is a space for mutual knowledge and shared reflection: a meeting point between Spain and the Arab world.”
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award organized a cultural seminar, with the support of “Casa Arabe” and the UAE’s Embassy in Madrid, bringing together top-level diplomatic and cultural figures from UAE and Spain. The event highlighted the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s efforts to reach out to international audiences and promote the Award’s brand at cultural gatherings around the world, and Abu Dhabi’s cultural mandate and its role in supporting the book industry in the Arab region.
In his speech, Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, the Award’s Secretary General, explained that such cultural gatherings gain vital importance to support cultural diversity, peaceful co-existence and nourishment of creativity. He also thanked the Ambassador
The Award’s “Arabic Culture in Other Languages” is devised to honor all written works in languages other than Arabic, about the Arabic civilization and culture, in the fields of humanities, fine arts, and literature throughout its historical eras. Prior to the rollout of its 9th session, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award announced accepting nominations in Japanese, Spanish and English languages in this category.
Since the establishment of the “Arabic Culture in Other Languages” category, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has accepted works of exceptional writers, intellectuals and orientalists in English, Russian, Italian, Chinese and German and named Mario Leverani from Italy, Marina Warner from UK winners of the category in 2014 and 2013 respectively. The Award has also named a number of internationally renowned cultural figures winners of the cultural personality of the year award including Spanish Professor Pedro Martinez Montavez, Chinese Orientalist Chung Jikon and Professor Denys Johnson Davies.