The Sheikh Zayed Book Award Names Its Winners

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, in its 18th year, announces its core list of 2024 laureates from the UAE, Tunisia, Germany, China, and Egypt.

At the 2023 Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony in Abu Dhabi. Image: SZBA

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

See also: Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Outlines Early Details

Bin Tamim: ‘Landmark Projects, Works From Great Minds’
Today (April 4), the Sheikh Zayed Book Award under the direction of Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, chair of the  Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, has announced seven of the winners of the 18th edition of this major prize, which recognizes authors who write about Arab culture and civilization in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian.

Among the richest prize programs for books and publishing in the world, the Zayed Award program carries a purse of 750,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams (US$204,209) in each of its book categories and annually has been worth a total of some 7 million dirhams (US$1.9 million). That includes the special Cultural Personality of the Year Category award’s 1 million UAE dirhams (US$272,364).

The program’s total purse is expected to grow with the addition of a 10th category, which is dedicated to the editing of Arabic manuscripts. The protocols followed by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award Scientific Committee do not require that each category be awarded every year, and the Cultural Personality of the Year announcement is traditionally made independently of the other winners.

The seven category winners announced come from five countries: the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, China, and Egypt, and genres represented include fiction, historical nonfiction, and more.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

In a comment on releasing the news of the winners today, Bin Tamim is quoted, saying, “Since its inception, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has been an influential catalyst for the Arab cultural scene, actively contributing to the revitalization of literary and poetic movements as well as translation efforts.

“We are proud to spotlight landmark projects and works from great minds around the world which have greatly impressed and inspired us. We congratulate this year’s winners and invite all creators to participate in the next edition of the Award, offering them the opportunity to make their contribution towards enriching the wider cultural scene

As Publishing Perspectives readers know from our coverage of the Zayed program shortlists, this year’s submissions have set a new record, with a total of 4,240 submissions from 74 countries, including 19 Arab nations and 55 from other markets.  This surge is understood by the award’s organizers to highlight the program’s significance and credibility in the realms of culture, literature, and academia.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak

In addition to today’s commentary from Bin Tamim, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chair of Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism, said, “Through Arabic Language Center’s various initiatives, we seek to promote Arabic language proficiency and ensure greater cultural understanding.

“For 18 years, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has played a pivotal role in supporting our efforts to enrich cultural and intellectual creativity worldwide while providing a platform for writers, translators, academics, and organizations to reach global audiences. Through this platform, we are celebrating Arabic-speaking writers and authors who write about Arab culture and civilization, collectively  advancing our intellectual and cultural heritage.”

The full list of award categories is here:

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

What follows is a listing of winners announced today.

Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2024 Winners

Category: Literature

  • 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

Jury comment:
“Reem Bassiouney is working on a project to write historical novels about Egypt in the Middle Ages. In this work, she wants to shed light on the Egyptian character with narratives that utilize poetry, architecture, and mythology, while underscoring the human dimension.

“She works to construct the narrative of historical and social development in Egypt in that era, using a tone that aligns with the nature of that extended historical period and its intellectual and social dimensions.”

Category: Young Author

  • 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

Jury comment:
“This work sheds light on the expulsion of the Moriscos who had remained in Spain, addressing socio-cultural dimensions and exploring the relation between memory and historic identity.

“Houssem Eddine Chachia makes a notable effort in investigating and documenting facts, while ensuring analytical and critical presentation.

“The study presents historical material documented in Spanish on the subject, offering an interdisciplinary historical study into civilizations and their relationships from a scientific perspective.”

Category: The Editing of Arabic Manuscripts

  • 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

Jury comment:
“Mustapha Said conducted a comprehensive, methodological study, showcasing his scientific acumen and enhanced prowess to analyze, understand, and critique.

“Said’s work makes it evident that he made a significant effort to organize his report and present information clearly to the reader.

“Remarkably this study stands out as the first comprehensive report from a scientific point of view and includes an in-depth study and statistical charts of melodies and connections.”

Category: Contribution to the Development of Nations

  • Al-Asmaa’ al-Jughrafiya – Thakirat Ajyal (Geographical Names: Legacy of Generations) by Khalifa Alromaithi from the United Arab Emirates, published by Austin Macauley Publishers, in 2022

Jury comment:
“This book is characterized by its scientific spirit, the accuracy of its language, and the clarity of its style.

“It constitutes a study of geographical names in the United Arab Emirates, providing a reference for researchers into the subject. The author combines a historical and geographical approach, relying on data, numbers, maps, and historical tracing, making it a work of outstanding distinction and precision.”

Category: Translation

  • Al-Ilm al-Jadeed (La Scienza Nuova – The New Science) by Giambattista Vico, translated from Italian to Arabic by Ahmed Somai from Tunisia, published by Adab Publishing and Distribution, in 2022

Jury comment:
“Ahmed Somai stands out for skillfully transferring the terminology, structure, formulation, and context in which the original Italian is written and evoking it in Arabic.

“Furthermore, Somai included a notable introduction, as well as extensive annotations to help clarify the ideas and information presented in the text, making his translation a significant addition for the Arabic library.”

Category: Arab Culture in Other Languages

  • The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam by Frank Griffel, published in English by Oxford University Press in 2021

Jury comment:
This book sheds light on the key contributions of Islamic philosophy and its impact on subsequent developments in theology, science, and literature. It covers the developments that led to reshaping philosophical discourse in Islam during the 12th century.

“Frank Griffel highlights figures who spoke in depth about philosophy in that era, delving into metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, and the intricate relationship between reason and revelation.

“One of the most innovative ideas expressed in this book is the combination of Greek philosophical ideas with Arab and Islamic schools of thought; it explains how scholars like Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina attempted to reconcile these diverse traditions. The book also reviews the figures and movements that influenced Islamic philosophy, making it a valuable contribution to understanding post-classical eras in Islamic philosophy.

Category: Publishing and Technology

Working to promote “a cultural bridge that tells China’s story and history,” Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries, set in Cairo, has been honored with the Publishing and Technology award by the Zayed Award jury, which says in its comment, “Since its establishment, the group has translated and published more than 300 books and publications, in addition to a vast number of documents and newspapers.

“These efforts have allowed Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries to compile a large database of Chinese and Arabic linguistic inventory, which can be employed to serve cultural endeavors on both the Chinese and Arab sides. The group is an integrated cultural project operating in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and China.

“In just a few years, it has managed to build Arab, regional, and international knowledge bridges through its branches and projects that focus on connecting the Middle East with the Far East and establishing rooted knowledge through publishing, translation, education, visual media, cultural industries, and trade. The group includes a comprehensive children’s library comprising books and stories for children and adolescents, ranging from illustrated stories to skill development books, educational resources, and motivational educational novels for adolescents.”

An invitational ceremony honoring this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award is planned for April 30 during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

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 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.