New Translation Funding for Arabic Literature from the Sheikh Zayed Book Award

In News by Hannah Johnson

This year, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is offering translation funding for literary and children’s titles that have won the award, with the goal of increasing the readership for Arabic books.

Translation funding is available for literary and children’s titles that have won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, including these two 2018 winners: ‘Remorse Test’ by Khalil Sweileh and ‘The Dinoraf’ by Hessa Al Muhairi

By Hannah Johnson | This article is sponsored by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

Along with the recent announcement of its 2018 winners, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) is also launching a new translation funding initiative to encourage more publishers to translate Arabic literature.

Organized by the Department of Culture and Tourism- Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award recognizes writers and academics writing in Arabic and those promoting Arab culture in other languages.

Literary and children’s titles that have won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award are eligible for translation grants of up to approximately US$19,000. (See a list of eligible titles.) Additional grants for certain types of production and promotion are also available. Priority will be given to publishers translating into English, German, and French, though other languages will also be considered.

Publishers interested in acquiring translation rights to SZBA-winning titles can find more information and contact rights holders via the SZBA account on IPR License.

This year, Syrian author Khalil Sweileh has won the Literature category for his novel, Remorse Test, about the Syrian civil war. Emirati author Hessa Al Muhairi won the Children’s Literature category for her picture book, The Dinoraf. And Egyptian author Ahmad Al Qarmalawi won the Young Author category for his novel, Summer Rains. Read about the 2018 winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award here.

“The aim of SZBA’s translation fund is to contribute to increasing the number of Arabic books that are translated, published and distributed abroad,” say the SZBA organizers.

You’ll find more information about this translation grant, a list of eligible titles, and how to apply below.


  • Applications are accepted all year round. Notification is made after 2-3 months of application date.

Grant Amount:

  • Approximately US$10,000 per title; plus a supplement, where applicable, to cover specific promotion and production costs:
  • Translation-related costs, up to a maximum of US$10,000 per title.
  • For translations of literary works, the cost of promoting the translated book, up to a maximum of US$5,000 per translated title
  • For translations of illustrated books containing at least 50% photos and/or illustrations (e.g. children’s books, graphic novels, illustrated books etc.), production costs per translated title of up to US$4,000 and promotion costs per translated title of up to US$4,000


  • The applicant must be a publisher in a country other than the Middle East
  • The signed contract between the publisher and rights holder for the Arabic edition, and between the publisher and translator must be included.
  • Funding will prioritize three languages: French, English and German.
  • The translation shall normally be carried out directly from Arabic. An exception can be made in the event of special circumstances, such as a lack of qualified translators from Arabic or that the book is already translated to English. SZBA may in some cases review the quality of the translation before the translation fund is paid.
  • The quality of the book must be of an acceptable caliber and a quality assessment will be carried out by SZBA Scientific committee.
  • The applicant must submit a promotional plan to the translated work.

Support Materials:

  • Brief profile of your press and publishing mandate
  • Budget
  • Promotional plan
  • An up-to-date biography of the translator(s), including relevant translation and publication credits

How to Apply:

  1. Contact SZBA via email at to receive the application form and instructions.
  2. Email completed application form and all required support materials to with the subject line “Translation Funding”.

Titles Eligible for SZBA Translation Funding:


  • Remorse Test (Ikhtibar al-nadam) by Khalil Sweileh (Syria)
  • Summer Rains (Amtar Sayfiyyah) by Ahmad Al Qarmalawi (Egypt)
  • The Autumn of Innocence (Khareef al Bara’a) by Abbas Beydoun (Lebanon)
  • Beyond Writing (Ma Wara’a al-Kitaba) by Ibrahim Abdelmeguid (Egypt)
  • The Madmen of Bethlehem (Majaneen bait lahem) by Osama Alaysa (Palestine)
  • After Coffee (Ba’d Al Qahwah) by Abdel Rasheed Mahmoudi (Egypt)
  • Developed Concepts of a Poetic Theory: Language, Music and Movement (Mafaheem Muwasa’a Li Nazaryah Shi’ryah) by Mohammad Miftah (Morocco)
  • Call of What Was Far by Ibrahim al Kouni (Libya)
  • The Prince and the Passage of the Iron Doors (Kitab al-Amir: masalik abwab al-hadid) by Wacini Laredj (Algeria)

Children’s Literature:

  • The Dinoraf (al-dinoraf) by Hessa Al Muhairi (UAE)
  • Hatless (Bila qubba’a) by Lateefa Buti (Kuwait)
  • The Boy Who Saw the Color of Air (Al-Fata al-ladhi Absara Lawna al-Hawa’) by Abdo Wazen (Lebanon)
  • Gold Ring (Siwari Al-Dhahab) by Qais Sedki (UAE)
  • The Journey of Birds to Qaf Mountain by Huda Al-Shawwa Qadoumi (Kuwait)
  • A Journey on Paper by Mohammed Ali Ahmad (Egypt)
About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.