Sheikh Zayed Book Award Opens Its 17th Round of Submissions

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After honoring its 2022 winners, the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Zayed Book Award issues a call for 2023 submissions.

Muhsin J. Al-Musawi of Iraq and the United States makes his way onstage at Louvre Abu Dhabi on May 24, to accept his 2022 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for ‘The Arabian Nights in Contemporary World Cultures: Global Commodification, Translation, and the Culture Industry’ in the category of Arab Culture in Other Languages, from Cambridge University Press. Image: Publishing Perspectives , Porter Anderson

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

Submissions Deadline: October 1
With an efficiency and turnaround pace that any awards administrator would admire, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) has today (May 10) opened submissions for its 17th edition, exactly 17 days after it went to Louvre Abu Dhabi to celebrate the 16th edition’s winners during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

To a point we made after the ceremony in Abu Dhabi, Publishing Perspectives readers know that this program is particularly impressive to see because because the Sheikh Zayed Book Award—housed under the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (part of the emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism) under the direction of secretary-general Dr. Ali Bin Tamim—is unafraid of some worthy pageantry. And this is on view even in the long runway of its submissions and selection process.

Each year, the program is announcing breaking its previous records for submissions, jumping 28 percent with more than 3,000 entries coming from 55 countries last year. At least 20 of those countries lie in the Arab world, while submissions came from 35 nations outside the Arabic-speaking regions.

“The Sheikh Zayed Book Award,” Bin Tamim says in today’s announcement, “continues to make strides toward enriching Arab culture, and today, we’re on the verge of a new chapter for the initiative, in which it continues to embrace innovators and creative thinkers from around the world.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

“The award is now one of the most respected of its kind, as proven by the unprecedented number of nominees in its most recent edition, in which writers and thinkers from various fields competed for the prize.

“This year, we again look forward to receiving  a host of imaginative and enlightening new works for upcoming edition.”

Once more, the program is working in nine categories. And in the 2022 cycle, the program showed that it’s not afraid to set aside a category if what comes in doesn’t rise to the standard expected. In the 16th edition of the program, the “Contribution to the Development of Nations” category was not awarded because a submission wasn’t found that rose to the criteria in place for it.

The nine criteria, all now open for submissions, are:

  • Literature
  • Translation
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations
  • Arab Culture in Other Languages
  • Children’s Literature
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Young Author
  • Publishing and Technology
  • Cultural Personality of the Year
Bin Tamim: ‘To Embrace Innovators and Creative Thinkers’

Maria Dadouch, the Syrian author of ‘Loghz al Kora al Zujajiya’ (‘The Mystery of the Glass Ball’), accepts her 2022 Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the category of Children’s Literature from Dr. Ali Bin Tamim at the Louvre Abu Dhabi winners’ ceremony on May 24. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

Of  course, as our readers also know, the Zayed Award program offers one of the wealthiest arrays of purses in the business. The Cultural Personality of the Year category winner receives 1 million UAE Dirhams (US$272,286) from a total 7-million-dirham purse (US$1.9 million).

Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

Each of the other eight categories’ winners receive 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,215).

All winners in the competition receive gold medals, and in several categories there’s translation-supportive funding made available, too, to help these Arabic works reach wider audiences in world publishing.

Here are some technical requirements of submission to consider:

  • The Sheikh Zayed Book Award receives self-nominations from authors as well as submissions from publishing houses. Those houses can nominate books they have published with written consent from the authors. Nominated works must meet a set of criteria to be submitted for consideration for the SZBA.
  • All nominated works must have been published within the past two years and must not have won any prominent international awards. Original nominated works should be written in Arabic, with the exception of works nominated under the Translation category–those must be translated to or from Arabic–and submissions to the Arab Culture in Other Languages category, in which works published in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian are accepted.
  • For the Cultural Personality of the Year award, entrants must be nominated by academic, research, or cultural institutions; literary bodies and universities; or by three prominent intellectual and cultural figures.
  • Nominees for all other categories are required to personally fill out the nomination forms on the SZBA website.

Nominees can submit their submissions to the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and look for more information about the process on the official site www.zayedaward.ae or by emailing info@zayedaward.ae .

You can review this year’s winners in our story here.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 106th awards-related report produced in the 108 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


Our special Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2022 Show Magazine is here for your free download (PDF).

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 world media partner of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center and 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 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 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.

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