Sheikh Zayed Book Award Names Longlists in Six Categories

In News by Porter Anderson

More than 50 titles have been named to the 2020-2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award longlists so far, in the program’s 15th year.

A look at the making of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award medallion, from the Abu Dhabi-based program’s 2007 winners’ ceremony. Image: SZBA

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

 Shortlists Anticipated in March
With the announcement Sunday (November 29) of its Literature category list, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award program completes six categories of longlists in its 15th year of operation.

The 2020-2021 cycle longlist categories to date, then, are:

  • Young Author
  • Literature
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations
  • Translation
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Children’s Literature

The remaining three (of nine total) categories are Arabic Culture in Other Languages, Cultural Personality of the Year, and Publishing and Technology.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, submissions for this cycle have made an extraordinary 23-percent jump, with 2,349 total submissions from 57 nations.

Overall, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, based in Abu Dhabi, is among the wealthiest portfolios of publishing-related honors in the world, worth a total of 7 million dirhams (US$1.9 million). 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.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

And in this year’s outstanding advance in the level of submissions—clearly tracking the rising international prominence of the Zayed Award on the world stage—the most popular category for entries has been the Young Author category (28 percent of submissions), followed by Literature (25 percent of submissions) and Contribution to the Development of Nations at 11 percent.

As the program’s process continues under the direction of secretary-general Dr. Ali bin Tamim, there will be several more jury reports to come, followed by the second-and third-stage evaluations of these reports by the program’s scientific committee. Shortlist announcements are anticipated in March, and those give way to the board of trustees’ review of the scientific committee’s work and approval of the winners.

We can hope, then, to see an announcement of winners in the March-April time frame and an awards presentation ceremony in April or May.

Here, then, are the longlists as released to date, and we’ll begin with those three that drew the most submissions.

Young Author Category Longlist 2020-2021

The Young Author category received a total 646 submissions. Its longlist comprises 14 titles ranging from narrative and poetic works to academic dissertations and critical studies, all by young authors writing from nine Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, and Palestine.

  • Nuzha fi Fina’ al Shak (A Walk in the Courtyard of Doubt) a poetic work by Saudi Arabian author Hassan Abdu Sumayli, published by Tashkeel Publishing in 2019
  • Siratun Thatiyya lel Farasha (Biography of the Butterfly) a poetic work by Egyptian writer Mohammed Ismail, published by Bardia Publishing & Distribution in 2019
  • Ka’annaho al She’r (As if it is Poetry) a poetic work by Yemeni writer Gabr Badani, published by Dar Al Atyaf Publishing & Distribution in 2019
  • Sett Zawaya lel Salaat (Six Corners for Prayer) by Egyptian writer Amira Badawy, published by El Ain Publishing in 2020
  • Laylat Yalda (Yalda Night) by Egyptian writer Ghada Al-Absi, published by Dar Al Tanweer in 2018
  • Khiva (Khiva) by Egyptian writer Ahmed Farahat, published by Kotobna in 2020
  • Malindi: Hikayatul Holm al Afreeqi (Malindi: The Tale of the African Dream) by Lebanese writer Mohammad Tarazi, published by Arab Scientific Publishers, Inc. in 2019
  • La’allaha Mazha (It Might be a Joke) by Emirati writer Salha Obaid, published by Almutawassit Books with Dar Melad in 2018
  • Ma Taraktu Khalfi (What I Left Behind) by Palestinian writer Shatha Mustafa, published by Nofal/Hachette Antoine in 2020
  • Al Qadaya al Naqdiyya fi Rasa’il Ikhwan al Safaa’ wa Khillan al Wafaa’ (Critique in the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity and Loyal Friends) by Syrian author Alaa Yassin Diab, published by the Syrian General Authority for Books in 2019
  • Ishkaliyyat al That al Sarida fil Rewayatil Nesa’eyyatil Suodiyya (1999-2012 AD) – Dirasa Naqdiyya (The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel (1999 – 2012) – Critical Study) by Saudi Arabian writer Dr. Asma Muqbil Awad Alahmadi, published by Arab Scientific Publishers, Inc. in 2020
  • Mushkilat al Kuliyyat al Mantiqiyya Dirasatun li Haqiqat al Kullei wa Atharuhu min al Guthoor al Yonaneyya ela al Falsafa al Hadeetha (The Problem of Logical Totality – A Study of the Reality of Totality and its Implications from the Greek Roots to Modern Philosophy) by Saudi Arabian researcher Dr. Maher bin Abdulaziz Al-shebl, published by Editions Ibn Nadim Publishing & Distribution/Dar Al Rawafed in 2020
  • Al Ruwa’eyya fel Mudawwanatil Sardiyyatil Arabaiyyatil Nahdaweyya – Dirasa fi Tadakhul al Khitabat (The Fiction in the Arab Renaissance Narrative Script – A Study of the Overlapping Discourses) by the Algerian writer Dr. Fayza Loulou, published by Dar Al Hamed for Publishing & Distribution in 2020
  • Al Simat al Faneyya wal Qiyam al Jamaliyya fil Khutoot al Arabiyya ala al Ama’er al Mamlukiyya; Qal’ata (al Karak wal Shubak) Unmuthajan (648 – 923 H/1250-1517 AD) (Artistic Features and Aesthetic Value of Arabic Calligraphy in Mamluk Architecture – Karak and Shobak Castles (648 – 923 AH/1250-1517 AD) by Jordanian writer Dr. Refat Bawaizeh, published by the Jordanian Ministry of Culture in 2019
Literature Category Longlist 2020-2021

A total 584 submissions were made to the Literature category this year—a 33-percent increase over the number of entries last year—and the longlist now features 12 titles, coming from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Sudan and Iraq.

This category includes nine novels and three works of poetry. We’ll list the novels first.


  • An Taashaq Al-Hayat (To Love Life) by Alawiya Sobh from Lebanon, published by Dar Al Adab Publishing & Distribution in 2020
  • Wajooh Al-Hosh (The Faces of the Courtyard) by Hessein Ali Hessein from Saudi Arabia, published by Le Centre Culturel Du Livre in 2020
  • Ghorfat Al-Mosafree (The Passengers Hall) by Ezzat El-Kamhawi from Egypt, published by Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah in 2020
  • Al-Amirah wal Khatem (The Princess and the Ring) by Rachid El-Daif from Lebanon, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2020
  • Fee Athar Enayat Al-Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat) by Iman Mersal from Egypt, published by Al Kotob Khan Library in 2019
  • Safar Barlik(Seferberlik) by Maqbul Al-Alawi from Saudi Arabia, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2019
  • Hadaeqohon Al-Moaalqah (Their Hanging Gardens) by Najma Idris from Kuwait, published by Dar Al Adab Publishing & Distribution in 2019
  • Tabeeb Aryaf (Countryside Doctor) by Mohammed El-Mansi Qandeel from Egypt, published by Dar El Shorouk Publishing & Distribution in 2020
  • Tawrat Al-Mutanabbi (The Torah of Al-Mutanabbi) by Naim Abd Muhalhal from Iraq, published by Dar Ninawa Studies, Publishing & Distribution in 2019


  • Ma Ana Feeh (What I’m Going Through) by Ahmed Al-Shahawi from Egypt, published by Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah in 2020
  • Maqam Nesyan (The Shrine of Forgetfulness) by Mohammed Ibrahim Yaghob from Saudi Arabia, published by Arab Diffusion Company in 2019
  • Etha Hama Matar Al-Kalam (When Words Pour like Rain) by Rawda El-Haj from Sudan, published by Dar Al Misk Publishing & Distribution in 2020
Development of Nations Category Longlist 2020-2021

With 262 submissions, the Contribution to the Development of Nations category’s longlist comprises writings from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia.

  • Al Ghuus bu Sab’at Arzaag (Diving: A Rich Source of Livelihoods) by Emirati writer Ahmad Mohammed bin Thani, published by Austin Macauley Publishers in 2019
  • Al Intiqal ela al Demokratiyya: Matha Yastafeed al Arab men Tajareb al ‘Akhareen (Transitioning to Democracy: What Can Arabs Learn from Others’ Experiences?) by Egyptian writer Dr. Ali Eldin Hillal, published by National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature in 2019
  • Bint Sheikh al Erbaan (Daughter of the Bedouin’s Chief) by the Egyptian writer Miral Al-Tahawy, published by ElAin Publishing in 2020
  • Surat al Mar’a fi Rahalaat al Gharbiyyeen ela Wasat al Jazira al Arabiyya Munthu Matla’ al Qarn al Tasi’ ‘Ashar ela Muntasaf al Qarn al ‘Ishreen (The Image of Women as Viewed by Western Travellers in Central Arabia from the Early 19th Century to the Middle of the 20th Century) by Saudi writer Dalal Bint Mukhlid Alharbi, published by King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in 2020
  • Min Agil E’adat Tashgheel al ‘Aql al Tareekhi al Arabi (In Order to Reignite the Arab Historical Mind) by Tunisian researcher Dr. Mokhtar Fejjari, published by Manchurat Al Tarikhiya Al Islamiya in 2020
  • Mawqe’ Saruuq al Hadeed al Athari fi Imarat Dubayy, Sura men Hadarat al Alf al Awwal Qabl al Milad (Dubai’s Archaeological Site of Saruq Al-Hadid, an Image from the Civilization of the First Millennium BC) by Jordanian researcher Dr. Rafi Mhimeed Harahsheh, published by Dar Ward Publishing & Distribution in 2019
  • (Al Nass al Deeni – Al Ensaan) Al Qur’an wa Maheyyat al Taghyeer (The Quran and the Essence of Change (The Religious Script – The Human)) by Moroccan researcher Dr. Idriss Hammadi, published by Editions Ibn Nadim Publishing & Distribution with Dar Rawafed in 2020
  • Turath al Este’laa baynal Folklore wal Majal al Deeni (Legacy of Supremacy between Folklore and Religion) by Egyptian researcher Saeed El-Masry, published by Batana Publishing & Distribution in 2019
Children’s Literature Category Longlist 2020-2021

A total 244 submissions were made to this category, and the resulting 13 longlisted titles are drawn from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, and Morocco.

  • Al Ghoul wa Nabtat al Aleeq (The Beast and the Blackberry) by Emirati writer Naseeba Alozaibi, published by Dar Ashjar Publishing and Distribution in 2019
  • Hikayat Ameera (The Tales of a Princess) by Egyptian writer Abdulhakeem Mahmoud, published by Nahdet Misr Publishing in 2020
  • Hadiqat al Zumurrud (The Emerald Garden) by Moroccan writer Raja Malah, published by Dar AlMoualef Publishing and Distribution/Maalem Printing, Publishing and Distribution in 2019
  • Ghafatan (Two Ghaf Trees) by Emirati writer Nadia Alnajjar, published by Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution in 2019
  • Mir’at Sayyidat al Nahr (The River’s Lady Mirror) by Tunisian writer Mounira Daraoui, published by Dar Waraqa in 2020
  • Hakatha Taharrakat al Duma (This is How the Dolls Moved) by Lebanese writer Amal Nasser, published by Kalimat Group in 2020
  • Jisr al Digital (The Digital Bridge) by Egyptian writer Michel Hanna, published by Dar El Shorouk Publishing & Distribution in 2019
  • Hikayat Waraqa (The Story of a Paper) by Syrian writer Obada Takla, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2020
  • Ijasat Mela (Mela’s Pear) by Lebanese writer Fatima Sharafeddine, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2019
  • Kayfa Faqadat al Buma Minqaraha (How the Owl Lost its Beak) by Saudi Arabian writer Ali Al-Saba’an, published by Dar Ashjar Publishing and Distribution in 2020
  • Sane’ al Qubba’at (The Hat Maker) by Saudi Arabian writer Latifah Al-Shelwi, published by Dar Kadi and Ramadi Publishing & Distribution in 2019
  • Rihlat Fannan (An Artist’s Journey) by Tunisian writer Mizouni Bannani, published by Dar Al Mua’nasa Publishing in 2020
  • Qittati Tu’allif Kitaban (My Cat is Writing a Book) by Egyptian writer Ashraf Abouelyazid, published by Dar Shagara Publishing in 2020
Translation Category Longlist 2020-2021

With work coming in from Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Italy and the United States, the Translation category’s longlist comprises nine titles translated from Arabic, English, French, and Italian.

Keep in mind that the Zayed Award permits the submission of both works translated from and into Arabic.

English-language content leads the way this year, with one book translated from Arabic into English, and four from English into Arabic.

  • Maqamat al-Hariri (Impostures) by Al-Hariri and translated to English by Michael Cooperson from the USA, published by Library of Arabic Literature in 2020
  • Al-Fikr Al-Arabi baad Al-Asr Al-Librari: Nahwa Tareekh Fikri Lelnahda (Arabic Thought Beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda) by Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss, and translated by Dr. Fuad Abdulmuttaleb from Syria, published by Mominoun Without Borders in 2019
  • Aser Elmany (A Secular Age) by Charles Taylor and translated by Naoufel Haj Ltaief from Tunisia, published by Jadawel Publishing, Translation & Distribution in 2019
  • Noor men el-Sharq: Kaif Saadat Eloom El-Hadarah Al-Islamiah ala Tashkeel Al-Al-Alam Al-Gharbi (Light from the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam helped to shape the Western World) by John Freely and translated by Ahmed Fouad Basha from Egypt, published by National Center for Translation in 2018
  • Qeyamat Athakaa Al-Istenaai fee Al-Taaleem: Hal yajeb ann tahel Al-Robotat mahal Al-Moaalmeen (Should Robots Replace Teachers? A.I. and the Future of Education) by Neil Selwyn and translated by Faisal Hakem Al-Shammari from Saudi Arabia, published by Editions Ibn Nadim Publishing & Distribution with Dar Al Rawafed in 2020

In addition, two books are translated from French into Arabic, and they are:

  • Al-Fann Al-Islami – Sysologia Al-Fanan Al-Ghafl (L’Art Islamique Approche sociologique de l’anonymat de l’artiste) by Shakir Luaybi and translated by Abdenbi Dakir from Morocco, published by the Arab Institute for Research & Publishing in 2020
  • Al-Falasefah wa Al-Elem (Les philosophes et la science) by Pierre Wagner and translated by Dr. Youssef Tibesse from Morocco, published by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities in 2019

And there’s one title translated from Italian into Arabic, and another translated from Arabic into Italian.

  • Mostawtanat lowsherah wa Soqotoha 1220-1300 (La Colonia saracena di Lucera: e La sua distruzione) by Pietro Egidi and translated to Arabic by Ahmed Somai from Tunisia, published by Dar Al Madar Al Islami in 2019
  • Ibn Khaldun bain Al-Iskandar wa Qaiser bilad Al-Eghreeq wa Roma men khilal Kitab Al-Ebar (Ibn Haldun tra Alessandro e Cesare La Grecia e Roma nel Libro degli esempi) by Ibn Khaldun and translated to Italian by Marco Di Branco from Italy, published by Il Poligrafo in 2020
Literary and Art Criticism Category Longlist 2020-2021

The category for criticism in literature and art drew 199 submissions this year, giving it 8 percent of the overall total. Its 10 titles include writing from Iraq, Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco.

  • Khatt al Mushaf al Shareef w Tatawwuruhu fil ‘Asr al Islami (The Holy Quran Calligraphy and its Development in the Islamic Era) by Iraqi writer Dr. Abdulazeez Hameed Salih, published by Dar Al Kotob All Ilmiyah in 2020
  • Khitab al Umthula, Hewar al Fikr wal SultaMuqarabatun Tadawuleyya Ma’refeyya (A Parable Discourse, the Dialogue of Thought and Authority – a Deliberative Cognitive Approach) by Moroccan writer Said Jebbar, published by Kunouz Al-Ma’refa Publishers in 2019
  • Surat Baghdad al Iftiradiyya fil Mekhyal al Yahoodi al ‘Iraqi – Dirasa fi Tamathulat Surood al Fadaa’ al Tareekhi fil Munjaz al Fanni – Al Aflaam wal Lawhaat wal Musiqa (The Virtual Image of Baghdad in the Iraqi Jewish Imagination – A Study in the Manifestation of Historical Narratives in the Artistic Work of Films, Paintings and Music) by Iraqi writer Dr. Khalidah Hatem Alwan, published by Dar Adnan Library Publishing and Distribution in 2019
  • Al Wi’am al Deeni fil Adab (Religious Harmony in Literature) by Jordanian writer Rashid Issa, published by Dar Khotot W Thelal in 2020
  • Cinoghrafia al ‘Ard al Masrahi – Sakanun li Jasad al Mumathel am Safar (Scenography of the Theatrical Performance: An Accommodation for the Actor’s Body or a State of Travel?) by Tunisian writer Dr. Mohamed Hedi Farhani, published by Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Kairouanin in 2019
  • Masar al Tahdeeth fil Funoon al Tashkeeliyya: Min al Ursumati ela al Lawha (The Path of Modernisation in the Visual Arts. From Drawing to Painting) by Tunisian writer Khelil  Gouia, published by Med Ali Éditions in 2020
  • Ayqunat: Buhooth Simya’iyyat al Ansaq al Basariyya (Icons: Research in the Semiotics of Visual Layouts) by Tunisian writer Dr. Ahmed Gasmi, published by La Maison Tunisienne Du Livre in 2019
  • Al Sura bayn al Khafa’ wal Tajalli inda Muhyiddine bin Arabi (The Image Between Invisibility and Transfiguration According to Mohieddin Ibn-Arabi) by Moroccan writer Ahmed Kaza, published by Mominoun Without Borders Publishing and Distribution in 2018
  • Al Mutakhayyal al Sardi al Arabi: Dirasa fi Binyat wa Waza’if al Aja’ebeyy (The Arabic Narrative Imagination: A Study of the Structures and Functions of Fantastic Literature) by Moroccan writer Mostafa Ennahhal, published by Roueya Publishing & Distribution in 2020
  • Akhlaqiyyat al Ta’weel: Min Antologia An-Nass ela Antologia al Fehm (The Ethics of Interpretation: From the Ontology of the Script to the Ontology of Comprehension) by the Moroccan writer Mohamed El-Hirech, published by La Virgule Librairie et Papeterie in 2019

In a quote from the writings of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, we read the kind of worldview that motivates the prize’s organizers each year:

“The book is a container of science, civilization, culture, knowledge, literature and arts. Nations aren’t only measured by material wealth, but also by their civil authenticity. The book is the basis of this authenticity and a key factor in the confirmation of its civilization.”

The Sheikh Zayed Book award is an independent cultural initiative administered by Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

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 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.