Sheikh Zayed Book Award Sets Winners’ Digital Ceremony for Thursday

In News by Porter Anderson

With its usual physical event made impossible by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the 14th Sheikh Zayed Book Award will stream a live program from Abu Dhabi on April 16 in honor of its 2020 winners.

Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Awards

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Digital Program Features Comments From Winners
When they made their winners’ announcement on April 8, as Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, organizers of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award said that they’d stream an online presentation on Thursday (April 16).

The Abu Dhabi offices of the program have announced that the digital ceremony of its 14th annual awards will be livestreamed on YouTube this Thursday at 5 p.m. GST in the United Arab Emirates (1 p.m. GMT; 2 p.m. BST; 9 a.m. ET).

You’ll find the Web cast on the program’s YouTube page, and you can set a reminder at that page now.

It’s expected that each winner of one of this year’s awards will have a statement as part of the programming, and the online event is to be hosted by Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards, accompanied by the Abu Dhabi television journalist Suhail Al Subaidi.

The Zayed program—closely followed by readers of Publishing Perspectives—approved its slate of award recipients in Abu Dhabi on March 18 in a meeting led by Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan.

With a purse of 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,181) in each of its eight book categories, the Sheikh Zayed program additionally offers 1 million dirhams (US$272,242) to the winner of its Cultural Personality of the Year honor. This makes it the richest prize program in Arabic literature awards, and in several categories, publishers of its winners are granted translation and marketing funding to help expand the presence of Arabic work in world markets.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

In every case, a winner is also given a gold medal with the award program’s logo and a certificate of merit.

Normally, the program’s award ceremony is one of the most opulent in world publishing and held in conjunction with the start of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Last year, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s winners’ presentation was staged at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island.

At this writing, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center in its 4:50 a.m. ET update (0850 GMT), cites 4,521 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates, with 25 deaths.

2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award Category Winners

Winners of the 2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award included, clockwise from upper left, Moncef Ouhaibi; Hayer Qasim; Ibtisam Barakat; Mohamed Ait Mihoub; Richard van Leeuwen; and Banipal’s Samuel Shimon and Margaret Obank

Recapping for you here the winners of the 2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Awards:

Cultural Personality of the Year

  • Palestinian poet, writer, translator, and anthologist Salma Khadra Al Jayyusi for what’s described by the prize program as her profound contribution to Arabic literature and culture


  • Belkas ma Qabl Al Akheera (The Penultimate Cup) by Moncef Ouhaibi of Tunisia (Meskeliani Publishing and Distribution, 2019)

Young Authors

  • ilm Al Kalam Al Islami fi Derasat al Mustashrikeen Al Alman (Islamic Theology in the Studies of German Orientalists) by the Iraqi writer Hayder Qasim (Al Rawafed Culture and Nadim Edition, 2018)

Children’s Literature

  • Al Fatat Al Lialakia (The Lilac Girl) by the Palestinian writer Ibtisam Barakat (Tamer Institute for Community Education, 2019)

Publishing and Technology

  • Banipal Magazine, London

Arabic Culture in Other Languages

  • The Thousand and One Nights and 20th Century Fiction: Intertextual Readings by Richard van Leeuwen (Brill Publishers, 2018)


  • Al-Insan Al-Romantiqi (L’Homme Romantique) by Georges Gusdorf, translated by Mohamed Ait Mihoub from Tunisia (Dracher Sinatra/ Tunis Institute for Translation, 2018)

Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2020 winning works, from left, in categories of Literature, Young Authors, Children’s Literature, Publishing and Technology, Arabic Culture in Other Languages, and Translation

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, more on translation is here, and more on children’s books is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

More from us on the coronavirus pandemic is here.

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.