Sheikh Zayed Book Award: Scientific Committee Reviews Recommendations

In News by Porter Anderson

The scientific committee’s deliberations precede the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s upcoming 17th-edition shortlist announcements.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award scientific committee meets in Abu Dhabi for the program’s 17th edition. Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

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

Zayed Award Shortlists To Come in March
As you’ll remember, in November, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award‘s reading panel had not only completed its review of submissions for the 17th edition of the prize, but had also registered a substantial level of growth in the categories of children’s literature and translation. All told, 3.151 submissions had come in from 60 nations.

Today (February 28), the Zayed team reports that the program’s 2022-2023 Scientific Committee—which was announced in August—has made its annual review of the recommendations forwarded by the program’s jury panels. It’s this review that prepares the way for the Zayed Award shortlists to come.

The scientific committee, led by Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, appoints international and regional literary figures who operate as jurors on nine judging committees. The scientific committee, then takes those jurors’ reports and approves their selections for the board of trustees’ official endorsement of a shortlist and, then for the final choices of winners.

With a purse of 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,209) in each of the eight book categories, 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). That includes a special Cultural Personality of the Year Category.

And with its annual submission rate steadily growing, the prize has come to be one of the highest-visibility vehicles for the promotion—and funded translation—of Arabic literature operating in the Middle East.

In a statement on today’s news, Bin Tamim is quoted, saying, “The scientific committee of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award plays a pivotal role in developing the award and brings a wealth of expertise that enhances the award’s standing in international literary and cultural circles.

“We appreciate their efforts and valuable contributions, which not only develops the award itself, but ultimately strengthens the United Arab Emirates’ cultural and literary scene.

“We’re looking forward to enriching the cultural movement in the region in this 17th edition and the following cycles, paving the way for more ambitious goals in the future.”

Eight Categories of Shortlists

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award program and chair of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, leads the Zayed Award scientific committee in its evaluations of jury panels’ recommendations. Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

For those unacquainted with this carefully calibrated selection process, the Zayed Award announces shortlists in eight of its nine categories:

  • Literature
  • Young Author
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Children’s Literature
  • Arab Culture in Other Languages
  • Translation
  • Publishing and Technology

The ninth category, Cultural Personality of the Year, is announced only when its winner has been chosen.

A final phase of evaluation, then, follows the shortlistings of the eight categories, a phase in which the Zayed Award’s board of trustees meets to endorse the winners.

Of the 60 nations from which submissions were received this year, 22 are Arab nations and 38 are markets outside the Arab world.

We’ll have coverage in March of the shortlistings, of course. to keep you apprised of those announcements.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award honors outstanding achievements of innovators and thinkers in literature, the arts, and humanities in Arabic and other languages. Its intent is to promote Arabic literature and culture, as well as to provide new opportunities for Arabic-language writers. Authors writing about the Arab culture and civilization in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian also are recognized by the award.

More on the Zayed Award and its programming is available here, and its site offers Arabic and six other languages.

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


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.