Record-Breaking Submissions Received by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award

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The Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Zayed Book Award sees a 23-percent jump in submissions, with Egypt leading out of 57 countries.

Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

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

Tamim: ‘Immensely Proud of This Growth’
In its 15th annual submissions cycle, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is reporting today (October 26) that submissions levels have set new records.

A total 2,349 titles have been submitted across the nine categories of the program, organizers say, representing 22 Arab nations and 35 countries outside the Arab world—a total of 57 publishing markets.

With the Zayed Award’s secretary-general Dr. Ali bin Tamim presiding, the award’s reading panel conducted its discussions in digital sessions. Tamim is also chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center, and he was joined on the committee by the several of the program’s Scientific Committee members: from Jordan, Khalil Al Sheikh; from the United Arab Emirates, literary critic Sultan Al Ameemi and Ali Al-Kaabi.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Zayed Book Award‘s Scientific Committee” is at the center of the 7 million dirham annual program (US$1.9 million).

In a prepared comment from Tamim on the news of the award’s expanding visibility and interest, we read, “This is another milestone that reiterates the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s status and continued success.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

“We’re immensely proud of this growth, which comes in contrast to the ongoing pandemic and the impact it continues to have on the publishing sector.

“Our gratitude goes to writers, translators, and publishers for their contributions to literature and culture in these times. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is committed and will continue to foster creativity, originality and excellence with integrity and transparency, leading the pioneering cultural role of the United Arab Emirates.”

The 2,349-title total is an increase of 23 percent over last year’s submissions, which came to 1,900.

This year, Egypt is in the lead, with the majority of Arabic-language submissions. Iraq is next, then Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE, Tunisia, and Lebanon.

In work not in Arabic, the United Kingdom leads, followed by the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands.

A dozen nations are represented for the first time in the submissions pool:

  • Armenia
  • Eritrea
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Niger
  • Greece
  • Indonesia
  • Burkina Faso
  • South Africa
  • Belarus
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
  • Finland
Categories and Next Steps

At the Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony in 2019 at Louvre Abu Dhabi. Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

Those interested in seeing awards programs surface and promote new voices may be glad to hear that the Young Author category has been the most popular for entries this year, comprising some 28 percent of all the submissions made.

  • The Literature category is second in submissions popularity, with 25 percent of the entries.
  • And the category called “Contribution to the Development of Nations” is at third, with 11 percent.

Following the reading panel’s review, the next stage is an announcement of the longlist, and we anticipate having that in November.

What follows that is a thorough literary review by the award program’s jury members, which then hands off to the Scientific Committee for a shortlist. The 2021 winners are to be announced in the spring.

With a purse of 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,194) in each of the eight book categories, the Sheikh Zayed program additionally offers 1 million dirhams (US$272,259) to the winner of its Cultural Personality of the Year honor.

It’s 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.

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


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, and more on translation is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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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