UAE: Sheikh Zayed Book Award Names Its 2021 Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

The newly named Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners come from Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Lebanon.

Winners of the 15th annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2021 are, upper row from left, Iman Mersal of Egypt; Mizouni Bannani of Tunisia; Asma Bint Muqbel Bin Awad Al-Ahmadi of Saudi Arabia; and Michael Cooperson in the United States. And on the lower row from left, Khelil Gouia of Tunisia; Saeed El-Masry of Egypt; Tahera Qutbuddin of the United States; and Dar Al Jadeed in Lebanon

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

Chosen From a Record 2,349 Submissions
Today (April 22), the 15th annual iteration of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in Abu Dhabi has announced its 2021 winners in its eight book categories.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the program has surpassed its former records this year for entries with a 23-percent increase of submissions totaling 2,349 nominations.

All the winners are to be honored in a digital ceremony in May, when the Cultural Personality of the Year—still to be formally named—will be presented with a gold medal, a certificate of merit, and a cash award of 1 million UAE dirhams (US$272,242). With a purse of 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,181) in each of the eight book categories.

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

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

In a comment on the release of the winners’ list today, the awards secretary-general Dr. Ali Bin Tamim—who also chairs the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre—is quoted, saying, “Despite the challenges of 2020, we were delighted to see a record-breaking year with submissions of exceptional quality.

“As one of the Arab world’s leading cultural awards, we’re proud to support a flourishing international publishing landscape and pleased to see winners from five countries.

“The judges were especially impressed with the range of genres, the breadth of topics and the ambition of the scholars and writers represented here. This year’s winners highlight the depth and prestige of the award in the Arab world and beyond. We commend their achievement and look forward to seeing more superb work in the years to come.”

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak

And Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chair of Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism, says, “Since its first edition in 2006, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has proved to be a beacon of culture and literature, recognized and respected internationally as a champion of creativity.

“Through this inspirational award, we honor the memory of our nation’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose far-reaching vision for the United Arab Emirates was intrinsically linked to the cornerstones of culture, knowledge and human development.”

Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2021 Winners


  • 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

Children’s Literature

  • Rehlat Fannan (An Artist’s Journey) by Tunisian writer Mizouni Bannani, published by Dar Al Mua’nasa Publishing in 2020

Young Author

  • Eshkalyat Al Thaat Al Saredah Fee Al Rwayah Al Nesaayah Al Saudiah (The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel, 1999 to 2012: A Critical Study) by Saudi Arabian writer Dr. Asma Muqbil Awad Alahmadi, published by Arab Scientific Publishers, Inc. in 2020


  • 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

Literary and Art Criticism

  • Masar Al Tahdeeth fe Al Fonoon Al Tashkelyah, men Al Orsomah ella Al Lawha (The Path of Modernization in the Visual Arts, From Drawing to Painting) by Tunisian author Khelil Gouia, published by Med Ali Éditions in 2020

Contribution to the Development of Nations

  • Turath Al Iste’ela’a bayn Al Folklor wa Al Majal Al Deeny (Legacy of Supremacy between Folklore and Religion) by Dr. Saeed El-masry from Egypt, published by Batana Publishing & Distribution in 2019

Arab Culture in Other Languages

  • Arabic Oration: Art and Function by Tahera Qutbuddin, published by Brill Publishers in 2019

Publishing and Technology

  • Dar Al Jadeed from Lebanon has won the Publishing and Technology award, in recognition of its role in shedding light on long-forgotten topics in Arab publishing, as well as for its contributions to the Arabic library with science books and linguistic and intellectual studies.

Publishing Perspectives will have information about the coming digital awards ceremony when the details become available.

Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

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.