Abu Dhabi’s 18th Sheikh Zayed Book Award Cycle: Four Longlists

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The 18th round of the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards’ nominees totals 4,240, a new record for an award with a new category: Editing of Arabic.

A meeting of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award Reading Panel Committee chaired by Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, center. Image: Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center

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

Bin Tamim: ‘The Foundations of Creativity and Knowledge’
As our Publishing Perspectives world readership knows, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award was established in 2006 as a means to promoting Arab literature and culture, while honoring the achievements of creative thinkers in books, the arts, the humanities, in Arabic and in other languages. The program also honors authors who write about Arab culture and civilization in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Russian.

Earlier this month, the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre—which is part of the capitol emirate’s department of culture and tourism—announced that its current 18th edition of the Sheikh Zayed award has received 4,240 nominations, a record that represents work from 74 nations. When these numbers are viewed in comparison to 3,151 submissions last year from 60 nations, it’s easy to see what a major step forward this program has made under the direction of Dr. Ali Bin Tamim in his role as chair of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.

Those 74 nations comprise 19 Arab countries and 55 other markets.

In announcing the 4,240 nominations for this year’s award, Tamim said, “For nearly two decades, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has firmly established itself as an authority in the regional and global cultural arena.

“The award commands tremendous respect through its continued pursuit of fulfilling the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates, who always sought to strengthen the foundations of creativity and knowledge and amplify the work of talented individuals.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

“The remarkable increase in the number of submissions we received this year reflects the growing prominence of the award worldwide. We look forward to continuing along this path to enrich human knowledge, spotlighting works that elevate humanity and our collective intellectual and cultural heritage.”

Egypt has topped the list of participating countries this year in terms of nominations received, followed by Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Palestine, and the UAE.

Outside the Arab region, India led the list, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany.

The award also saw a number of countries participate for the first time: Slovenia, Serbia, Romania, Nepal, Mauritius, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Guinea, and Djibouti.

The award now has 10 categories, the newest being the Editing of Arabic Manuscripts category, added last year and intended to surface good work in the editing of Arabic heritage manuscripts following scientific methods within any field of knowledge in Arabic traditions, including specialized and general lexicons.

This year’s nominations were led by the Young Author category, with 1,078 nominations, some 25 percent of the total. Following the Young Author category are nominations in:

  • Literature, with 1,032 submissions or 24 percent of the nominations
  • Children’s Literature 437 submissions or 10 percent of the total

The other categories, you’ll recall, are Literary and Art Criticism; Contribution to the Development of Nations; Translation; Editing of Arabic Manuscripts; Arab Culture in Other Languages; Cultural Personality of the Year; and Publishing and Technology.

Leading the nominations in terms of increased levels of nominations are:

  • Young Author, with 1,078 nominations over last year’s 954
  • Literature, with 1,032 nominations over last year’s 688

Submissions of work by women rose to 1,182 over last year’s 17th-edition 1,042 and the previous year’s 16th-edition level of  women’s nominations at 915. Nominations for institutions also gained traction, reaching 201 this year as opposed to just 24 last year.

Four Categories’ Longlists

The Zayed award, you’ll recall, is among the richest in the world.

The program now carries a purse of 750,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams (US$204,209) in each of its eight book categories and is worth a total of 7.8 million dirhams (US$2.1 million). That includes a special Cultural Personality of the Year Category, the purse for the winner of which is 1 million dirhams (US$272,262).

And here are the longlists in four of the 10 categories, as communicated to Publishing Perspectives by the program in Abu Dhabi.

Literature Category Longlist

The Literature longlist consists of 13 titles from nine countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Oman, and Bahrain.

  •  Utla fi Hay al-Noor (Holiday in Al Noor District) by Elhabib ElSelmi from Tunisia, published by Dar Al Adab Publishing and Distribution in 2023
  •  Nasheej al-Duduk (The Duduk’s Whimper) by Jalal Barjas from Jordan, published by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing in 2023
  •  Fursat al-Gharam al-Akheer (A Chance for One Last Love) by Hassan Dawood from Lebanon, published by Hachette Antoine/Nofal in 2022
  •  Laylat Hadiqat al-Shitaa (Winter Garden Night) by Hassouna ElMosbahi from Tunisia, published by Éditions Arabesques in 2023
  •  Al Halwani: Thulathiyat al-Fatimiyeen (Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy) by Reem Bassiouney from Egypt, published by Nahdet Misr Publishing, Printing and Distribution in 2022
  •  Mualaqat Gharnata (Ode of Granada) by Ziyad Abdulaziz Al Shaikh from Saudi Arabia, released by Dar Athar for Publishing and Distribution in 2021
  •  Hadatha fi Sabya (It Happened in Sabya) by Suaad Aloraimi from the UAE, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2022
  •  Al Majee (The Arrival) by Saad Al-Yasiry from Iraq and Sweden, published by Takween Publishing in 2021
  •  Al-Tahi Yaqtul al-Katib Yantahir (The Chef Kills, the Writer Commits Suicide) by Ezzat Elkamhawy from Egypt, published by Dar Al-Masriah Al-Lubnaniah in 2023
  • Ka inat al-Teeh (Labyrinth Creatures) by Magbaul Al Alawi from Saudi Arabia, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2022
  • Al-Ghurfa wa-Dawahiha (The Room and its Suburbs) by Maysaloon Hadi from Iraq, published by Dar Al Thakera Publishing and Distribution in 2022
  • La Yuthkaroon fi Majaz (Not Mentioned as a Metaphor) by Houda Hamed from Oman, published by Dar Al Adab Publishing and Distribution in 2022
  • Quddas al-Tamr (Dates Liturgy) by Yathreb Alaali from Bahrain, published by Dar Athar Publishing and Distribution in 2022
Young Author Longlist

The Young Author longlist features 15 titles, including literary texts and studies, from 10 Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

  •  Aaynaki ya Noura (Noura, your Eyes) by Asma Salem Alketbi from the United Arab Emirates, published by Taatheer Publishing and Distribution in 2021
  •  Al Mashhad al-Moriski: Sardiyat al-Tard fi al-Fikr al-Espani (The Morisco Landscape: Narratives of Expulsion in Modern Spanish Thought), by Houssem Eddine Chachia from Tunisia, released by the Center for Research and Knowledge Intercommunication in 2023
  •  Mimma Hakah al-Maa  lil-Aatash (Tales of Thirst as Told by Water) by Hassan Abdu Sumayli from of Saudi Arabia, released by Adab for Publishing and Distribution in 2023
  •  Nakhlaa al-Thil aala Aatabat al-Bab (We Leave Our Shadows at the Doorstep) by Hassan Ali Alnajjar from the United Arab Emiratews, published by Takween Publishing in 2023
  •  Al-Usooli wal-Lisani: Bahth fi al-Bunyat al-Nahawiya wa-Taaddud al-Dalalat (The Fundamentalist and the Linguist: A Study of Syntactic Structures and Polysemy), by El Wali El Imrani from Morocco, released by Kunouz Al-Ma refa Publishing and Distribution House in 2023
  •  Genealogia al-Ikhtilaf (Genealogy of Difference) by Sami Kareem Moshi from Iraq, published by Mominoun Without Borders Publishing and Distribution in 2023
  •  Mashrou  al-Nawm  The Sleeping Project) by Chiheb Abdullah from Tunisia, published by Hachette Antoine/Nofal in 2023
  •  Simya iyat al-Qira a: Dirasa fi Shurooh Diwan al-Mutanabbi fi al-Qarn al-Sabe Hijri (The Semiotics of Reading: a Study of the Seventh Hijri Century Interpretation of the Al-Mutanabbi s Diwan), by Alawi Ahmed Al Malgami from Yemen, released by Kunouz Al-Ma refa Publishing and Distribution House in 2023
  •  Jame  al-Kutub Gharib al-Atwar (The Eccentric Book Collector) by Omar Zakaria from Jordan, published by El Harf Publications in 2023
  •  Al Mamar al-Lama loof allathi Yukhfih Rajul al-Astuh (The Uncharted Path Concealed by the Rooftop Man) by Firas Almaasarani from Syria, released by Mamdouh Adwan Publishing and Distribution House in 2022
  • Microphone Katem al-Sawt (A Soundless Microphone) by Mohammad Tarazi from Lebanon, released by Arab Scientific Publishers Inc. in 2023
  • Markab Waraqi Yahrus al-Nahr (A Paper Boat Guarding the River) by Mohammad Arab Saleh from Egypt, published by Madarek Publishing House in 2023
  • She riyat al-Itithar fi al-Shi r al-Arabi al-Qadeem hatta Nihayat al-Aasr al-Umawi (The Poetic Art of Apology in Ancient Arabic Poetry until Umayyad Era), by Mohammed Ali Saleh Qaid Alqablani from Yemen, released by Maraya Books in 2022
  • Na eesh li-Nahki: Balaghat al-Takhyeel fi Kalila wa Dimna (Living to Narrate: The Eloquent Imagination in Kalīla wa-Dimna) by Mustapha Rajouane from Morocco, released by Kunouz Al-Ma refa Publishing and Distribution House in 2023
  • Ghiwayat al-Fana (The Temptation of Mortality) by Hala Saleh Elsayyad from Egypt, released by Sefsafa Publishing House in 2023
Children’s Literature Longlist

The Children s Literature longlist comprises 16 titles by authors from nine Arab countries: Syria, Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia.

  • Aa ilati hiya al Dunya  (My Family Is My World) by Rama Kanawati from Syria, published by Kalimat Group in 2023
  • Aalam Khass (A Private World) by Marianna Barsoum from Egypt, published by Kitaby for Printing, Publishing, and Distribution in 2023
  • Qissat al-Ja iza (The Awards Story) by Ahmad Almotawaa from Kuwait, published by Hzaya Library in 2023
  • Al-Fata allathi Yushbih Al-Sindibad  (The Boy Who Looks Like Sinbad) by Ahmed Korani from Egypt, published by Bayt ElHekma for Creative Industries in 2023
  • Satea (Bright) by Estabraq Ahmed from Kuwait, published by Takween Publishing in 2023
  • Al Daw (The Light) by Israa Kalash from Palestine, published by Al Ahlia Publishing and Distribution in 2023
  • Suwar wa-Hikayat min Thakirat Jaddi (Pictures and Tales from my Grandfather s Memory) by Fatima Sharafeddine from Lebanon, published by Dar Al Saqi in 2023
  •  Abi Al Sajeen 118 (My Father Prisoner 118) by Taghreed Aref Alnajjar from Jordan, released by Al Salwa Books in 2022
  •  Shaden wa Sihr Al Farasha  (Shadin and the Butterfly Magic) by Dalal Saleh Albaroud from Kuwait, published by Kalemat Publishing and Distribution in 2023
  •  Al Bint allati Hamalat Baytaha  (The Girl Who Carried her Home) by Rawaa Sunbol from Syria, published by Damaa Publishing and Distribution in 2022
  • Fata al-Burj al-Ajeeb wal-Kawakib al-Sabaa  (The Wonderful Boy of the Tower and the Seven Planets) by Shakir Noori from Iraq, published by Dar Al Moualef Publishing, Printing, and Distribution in 2022
  • Fata al-Shajara (The Tree Boy) by Dheyaa Gubili from Iraq, published by Al Hajan Publishing and Distribution in 2021
  •  Al Kalimat that al-Khuyoot al-Sawda  (The Black Threaded Words) by Fatima Alameri from the UAE, published by Al Saif Publishing in 2021
  •  Shajarat al-Ahlam  (The Tree of Dreams), by Mounira El Daraoui from Tunisia, published by El Amina Edition in 2023
  • Tefl al Musiqa (Child of Music) by Naser Chbana from Jordan, released by the Ministry of Culture – Jordan in 2021
  •  Ana Astatee (I Can) by Najem Aldeen Haj Bakri from Syria, published by Kotobna Books in 2023
Editing of Arabic Manuscripts Longlist

The Editing of Arabic Manuscripts longlist–the newest of the Zayed Award categories–features nine titles by authors from five Arab and non-Arab countries: the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.

  • Diwan Antara bin Shaddad: Dirasa Adabiya Tarikhiya  (Diwan  Antarah ibn Shaddad: A Literary-Historical Study), by James Montgomery from the United Kingdom, published by the Library of Arabic Literature at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) in 2018
  • Sharh Diwan Thi-Al Rimma li Abi al-Hasan Ali bin Mohammed bin Ali bin Kharouf Al-Eshbili Al-Andalusi  (Interpretation of the Diwan of Thi Al Rimma by Abi Al Hassan Ali bin Mohammed bin Ali bin Kharouf Al-Eshbili Al-Andalusi) by Awad bin Mohammed Salem Al Daheel Al Awlaqi from Saudi Arabia, published by Dar Al Nawader – Al Madina Al Munawwarah Literary Publishing Club in 2019
  • Kitab Riyadat al-Uqool al-Maaroof bi Kitab Ta kheer al-Maarifa  (The Book of Mental Exercise Known as the Book of Delaying Knowledge) by Ahmed Abdelbaset from Egypt, published by Dar Malamih Publishing and Distribution in 2022
  • Al-Amali min al-Fawa id wal-Akhbar (Dictations of Benefits and News) by Mohammad Kheir Mahmoud Alboukahi from Saudi Arabia, published by Dar AlGharb Al Islami in 2021
  • Sharh Shuthoor al-Thahab fi Maarifat Kalam al-Arab (Explanation of Gold Particles: Understanding the Talk of Arabs) by Abi Fahr Wael bin Ahmed bin Mohamed Seif from Egypt, released by Dar Ebn Abas Publishing and Distribution in 2021
  • Al-Fawa id al-Sunniya fi al-Rihla al-Madaniya wal-Rumiya, Tathkirat al-Nahrawali  (Sunni Benefits in the Madani and Roman Journey  Nahrawali Diary ) by Al-Mahdi Eid Al-Rawadieh from Jordan, published by the Orient-Institut Beirut in 2022
  • Muthanna Al-Manshi: Li-Muhyiddin Muhammed bin Badr Al-Din, al-Shaheer bil-Manshi  (Muthanna Al-Manshi by Muhyiddin Muhammad bin Badr al-Din, Known as Al-Manshi), by Lafai bin Lafi Alsulami from Saudi Arabia, published by Dar Malamih Publishing and Distribution in 2022
  • Dirasa wa-Tahqeeq, Kitab al-Mara i lil-Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mu ti Al-Sharqawi (A Study and Editing of “Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mu ti Al-Sharqawi s Book of Dreams), by Mohamed Ahmad
  • Ankar from Morocco, published by Bab Al Hikma Publishing in 2020
  • Safinat al-Mulk wa-Nafisat al-Fulk (Shehab al-Din al-Muwashah wa-Musiqa al-Maqam al-Natiqa bil-Arabiya bayn al-Tantheer wal-Maras)  (The Ship of Possession and the Precious Ship (Shehab al-Din – Muwashah and Arabic-speaking Maqam Music between Theory and Practice) by Mustafa Said from Egypt, published by El Ain Publishing in 2023

We anticipate announcements of nominees in the remaining Sheikh Zayed Book Award categories in coming days and weeks.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center 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 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.com, 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.

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