Sheikh Zayed Book Award at Abu Dhabi’s Book Fair: Its Cultural Program

In News by Porter Anderson

In four important programs at the fair, the award will present commentary from—and conversation with—winners from 2020 and 2021.

Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

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

Award Ceremony on Monday
During the upcoming 30th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair—running Sunday (May 23) through May 29—the Sheikh Zayed Book Award not only will hold its annual ceremony to honor its 2021 winners in eight categories, but will also will produce a cultural program reflective of its 15-year mission on select, recognize, and promote the work of outstanding writers, intellectuals, and publishers as well as young talent whose writing and translation in the humanities objectively enriches Arab intellectual, cultural, literary, and social life.

The Zayed Award program, which is produced under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, will open its events with that ceremony, digitally delivered as will be all its events.

Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2021 Laureates’ Ceremony
May 24 | 6 p.m. GST / 3 p.m. BST / 14:00 GMT / 10 a.m. ET

The ceremony will be streamed live on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s YouTube channel and broadcast on the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair’s main stage in Hall 9 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2021 Seminar
May 25 | 7 p.m. GST / 4 p.m. BST / 15:00 GMT / 11 a.m. ET

This program will emanate from Hall 9 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre where a selection of this year’s winners are to engage in a physical seminar under the direction of Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and chair of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

Joining Tamim will be winners from both the 14th (2020) and 15th (2021) prize cycles in a session to be moderated by Khalil Al Sheikh, who is a researcher, critic, and translator who serves as a member of the Sheikh Zayed award’s scientific committee.

Participants anticipated at this writing include:

  • Margaret Obank from Banipal magazine, winner of the Publishing and Technology award
  • The Tunisian poet Moncef Ouhaibi, winner of the Literature award
  • The Tunisian translator Mohamed Ait Mihoub, winner of the Translation award
  • Iraqi author Hayder Qasim, winner of the Young Author award
  • Dutch author Richard van Leeuwen, winner of the Arabic Culture in Other Languages award

Tahera Qutubddin

Also in attendance will be winners of this year’s edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award:

  • The Saudi writer Asmaa Al Ahmadi, winner of the Young Author award
  • Tunisian author Mizouni Bannani, winner of the Children’s Literature award
  • Egyptian author Saeed Al Masry, winner of the Contribution to the Development of Nations award
  • The Tunisian writer Khelil Gouia, winner of the Literary and Art Criticism award
  • Tahera Qutubddin from the United States, winner of the Arabic Culture in Other Languages award

Several key personalities will participate remotely, including:

  • Michael Cooperson, the American translator and winner of the Translation award
  • Egyptian author Iman Mersal, winner of the Literature award
  • Rasha Al Ameer of Dar Al Jadeed, winner of the Publishing and Technology award

Iman Mersal

Iman Mersal in Conversation
May 26 | 7 p.m. GST / 4 p.m. BST / 15:00 GMT / 11 a.m. ET

Mersal, winner of the 2021 Literature award for her Fee Athar Enayat Al-Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat), will be heard in a digital presentation with Asma Siddiq Al Mutawaa, the founding chair of Abu Dhabi’s Al Multaqa Literary Salon.

‘Sheikh Zayed Book Award: A Recurring Dream Every Year’
May 27 | 7 p.m. GST / 4 p.m. BST / 15:00 GMT / 11 a.m. ET

In this digitally produced session, Tunisian author Mizouni Bannani, winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature award for his book Rehlat Fannan (An Artist’s Journey), will speak about award and children’s literature; the origin and significance of his book Rehlat Fannan; and the extent to which he was influenced by the book Kalila wa Dimna. The session will be moderated by Sarah Salem Al Suwaidi, director of the curriculum department at the department of education and knowledge.

‘Islamic Theology and Society: Arab and German Perspectives’
May 28 | 7 p.m. GST / 4 p.m. BST / 15:00 GMT / 11 a.m. ET

Ulrich Rudolph

This program is being organized in collaboration with Litprom and will have the participation of:

  • Ulrich Rudolph, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Zürich
  • Farid Suleiman, a researcher at the department of Islamic religious studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • Hayder Qasim Al Tameemi, an Iraqi author and academic who teaches in the department of history at the University of Baghdad and winner of SZBA’s 2020 Young Author award
  • Mira Sievers, a junior professor of Islamic foundations of belief, philosophy and ethics at the Berlin Institute for Islamic theology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Stephan Milich, a lecturer in Arabic and Islamic studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the University of Cologne

In their session, these specialists will explore the complex interrelationship between theology and society in both the history of classical Islam and the contemporary world.

The starting point for the discussion will be the outstanding monograph Islamic Theology in the Studies of German Orientalists, With Particular Focus on Josef van Ess’ Oeuvre by last year’s SZBA winner Hayder Qasim, an Iraqi historian of religion.

Participants will also examine how Iraqi and Arab scholars compare the contributions of German Islamic studies to the study of Islamic theology and what the central topics and debates are, both in Iraq and the Arab world and Germany regarding Islamic theology and society.

Follow Publishing Perspectives for our comprehensive coverage of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and the International Prize for Arabic Literature.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here. More on book fairs and trade shows is here, more on the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is here in a special landing page for our coverage.

More on Guest of Honor Germany and Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on the United Arab Emirates’ market is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and the International Publishers Association.

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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (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.