The UAE’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award Opens Submissions for 2021 Prize Cycle

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Now in its 15th year, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award opens its call to nominations. Publishers, authors, and scholars are invited to submit titles for the 2021 prize.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, speaks at one of the program’s prize ceremonies in Abu Dhabi. Image: SZBA

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

Deadline for Submissions: October 1
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award program, well known to Publishing Perspectives’ internationalist readership, has opened its submissions for the 2021 prize cycle, which will again provide each of its winners with a purse of 750,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams (US$204,192).

In its 15th year, the program again will operate in nine categories:

  • 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 to or from Arabic
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations

Today (June 1), the program is opening a registration tool online to provide more information and application for each of the categories.

The Zayed Award organizers say in a note that they’re accepting print copies in submission “in light of the improving COVID-19 situation around the world.” Depending on the market from which you read that, you may or may not agree that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic conditions—still without therapeutics or vaccine—are improving. Just days ago, the Cundill History Prize in Montreal, another lucrative award program, announced that its jurors are working entirely digitally for safety.

Bin Tamim: ‘Culture Endures and Adapts’

At a winners’ and audience reception after one of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award prize ceremonies. Image: SZBA

Based in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award program’s submissions process has a deadline of October 1 and is open to nominations from publishers, translators, universities, and authors of any nationality.

Rapidly gaining in visibility among world awards programs, the Zayed Award is geared to getting literature of the Arab world into international markets. To that end, the Literature and Children’s categories have translation funding available to support publication in markets outside the region, with a focus on English, German, and French.

  • This year, initial evaluations of submissions will begin in October, with longlist announcements expected in November.
  • Jurors then will work with the content through January, and the Scientific Committee’s review of the jurors’ evaluations will be made in February.
  • An announcement of shortlists should be made in March, and the board of trustees will then meet to finalize the winners’ list.

The program, of course, is led by Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary general of the Zayed Award and chair of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Authority. In a prepared statement, Tamim is quoted, saying, “This year, we have learned that whatever happens, culture endures and adapts to the most difficult of circumstances.

“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 labor to the judges’ attention.”

Tamim, in fact, has presided over a record year of submissions for the 2020 prizes, seeing 1,904 nominations arrive from 49 nations, as a new infographic from the program reveals:

Statistics from the 2020 prize cycle, which was the 14th anniversary of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Image: SZBA

Except for works entered in the Translation and Arabic Culture in Other Languages categories, of course, content submitted for consideration must be published in Arabic.

The award was established in 2006 under the authority of the Abu Dhabi department of culture and tourism. The jurors who work through the first stages of the evaluations are appointed by the Scientific Committee.

In its 6:32 a.m. ET update (1032 GMT), the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center cites 34,557 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 264 deaths. That’s in a population of some 9.6 million.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, more on translation is hereand more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

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 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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