Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Secretary General of Sheikh Zayed Book Award, pointed out that Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision, established by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, continues to expand under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, and the support of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Dr. bin Tamim gave at the beginning of the press conference a glimpse of the award’s stages, starting with nominations in May 2013, followed by the reading and sorting stage, leading to the announcement of the Long List, before moving to specialized jury in every category of the award. These experts, then, filed their reports regarding the Short List nominations to the Scientific Committee, which revised the list based on given criteria, and submitted recommendations of winners’ names to the Board of Trustees, which then approved them last week. The prizes are to be awarded in a grand ceremony, to be held on the 4th of May, during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
Dr. bin Tamim expressed his appreciation for the "genuine and sincere efforts of the sorting, reading, arbitration and scientific committees, before announcing the names of the winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2013/2014".
Contribution to the Development of Nations Award
The award went to Dr. Saeed Abdullah Al Soyan for his study "The Epic of Human Evolution", published by Madarik Publishing - Dubai (2013) “in recognition of his tremendous effort in gathering scientific data, and covering a large spectrum of notions in the field of social sciences”. The nomination is also due to the writer’s ability to develop the notion of evolution from the mere biological spectrum, to the social, cultural, linguistic and economic spheres, as well as associating these fields together. Moreover, the book fills the gap within the anthropological studies in the Arabic academia. In addition to the unity of his central thesis, the researcher also traced, from ancient history to the modern times, the general concept of evolution, to its detailed accounts in many contexts and eras. Al Soyyan also sought the utmost precision to trace evolution in different stages, to demonstrate the development of humankind.
Children’s Literature Award
The winner in this category is Jawdat Fakhr Eldine for his book “Thirty Poems for Children”, Dar Al Hadaiq Publishing (2013) for its deep insights, stimulating positive thinking and imagination. This collection of poems manifests simplicity in language and beauty of rhythms, which leads to discovering the many beauties of nature. There is also a diversity of poems and ideas, that increase cognitive and contemplative senses in children, not to mention the book’s unique layout and drawings.
The 30 poems that constitute the book, deliver an important educational message in a simple, yet enlightened language, and point to the manifestations the child sees through both his senses and imagination.
Young Author Award
The winner in this category is Rami Abu Shihab for his book "Permanence and Deception: Post-Colonial Discourse in the Contemporary Arab Criticism", a publication of the Arab Institute for Research and Publication, Beirut (2013).
The main reason for recognizing this book is the author’s awareness of post- colonial era studies, and his understanding of the theoretical principles of these studies, as well as fully comprehending their terminology. Besides, the author made a unique effort in his selection of a sample of contemporary Arab criticism literature which represents this new approach in criticism. In addition, the author was affluent in highlighting the importance of post-colonial criticism studies, their extension in modern Arabic culture, and opening new prospects to discuss the future of Arab Studies.
The field of post-colonial criticism is specialized in modern criticism’s perspective, as evident in Edward Said’s studies and post-colonial culture stream in the Arab World. The author traces the studies’ principles through their terminology and theoretical doctrines, which makes the book very influential in contemporary Arabic Criticism studies.
The winner in this category is Mohammed Al Tahir Al Mansouri, from Tunisia, for translating the book “Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World”, published by Dar Al Madar Al Islami Publishing (2013). The book was chosen for its accuracy and elegance, as it represented integrity in maintaining the original language and its historical and scientific terminology. Besides, the book is enriched with a plentiful of indexes and a sound selection of locations and personalities’ names.
The book is a thoughtful research combining historical and archival means along with accountability, illustrating an important intellectual phenomenon, closely attached to world cultures, especially the Mediterranean; namely the phenomenon of hosting the traveler and housing him.
The scholar traces “the hotel” as a commercial and a social organization, since ancient times until modern civil and commercial exchanges between Arab countries and their European and Mediterranean neighbors.
Through the history of hotels and its transformation, the writer highlights how people of that region portrayed travel and journeys, as well as methods of welcoming strangers, or visitors, and how that changed based through times, along with the relations between the visitor and the host.
The winner in this category is the Egyptian author Abdel Rasheed Mahmoudi for his novel “After Coffee”, published by Al Dar Al Arabiya for Books (2013). The novel represents literary creativity, resembling international classical novels, manifesting brilliant narration skills, smooth transition between events, and the personification of characters from childhood to middle age. In addition, the novelist showed great skill in reconstructing reality, as well as an ability to analyze characters in their fluctuation from hope to emotional breakdowns, and a capacity in associating the real with the mythical in one frame.
The novel deals with the social fabric, topographic nature and anthropological features of the Egyptian village in the 1940s. On the other hand, the novel’s style mixes classical narrative and simple dialogue, which reveals the nature of the novel's characters.
Literary and Art Criticism Award
The scientific Committee decided to withhold the prize for this category in its 8th session, because the studies submitted do not meet the standards for winning the prize.
Arabic Culture in Other Languages Award
The winner in this category is the Italian writer Mario Liverani for his book “Imagining Babylon”, a publication by Editori La Tersa Publishing, Rome - Bari (2013). The decision was made as a result of the author providing an extensive survey of Babylon, considering it as one of the most important ancient cities in the Arab world. The book also redraws the city architecturally, ideologically, organizationally and conceptually. Moreover, the author enhanced research in every chapter with historical documents and accurate archeological exposure. The book represents an impressive work in both archaeology and ancient history.
The author drew attention to his work, especially in Europe, through scientific certified publications, where he discards a plentiful of mainstream conceptualizations of ancient Eastern history. Thus, he confronted mythology, through scientific extrapolation based on the newest archaeological discoveries and cognitive accumulation in ancient Eastern history.
Publishing and Technology Award
The winner in this category is the Arab Foundation "House of Wisdom", from Tunisia. The foundation was chosen for the deep thought, responsible academic effort, and the clear lively heritage of all activities of this institution. "House of Wisdom" in Tunisia has been working for decades to publish significant intellectual books of Arabic tradition in literature, thought, language and dictionaries, as well as translations of major philosophical, and global lingual thought, performed by experienced professors and linguists. The foundation also hosts research conferences, where it calls for the most active workers in specified areas.
HE Juma Al Qubaisi, Executive Director of the National Library at the Abu Dhabi Committee for Tourism and Culture, confirmed that "Sheikh Zayed Book Award” is a culmination of writers' hard work, intellectuals and publishers, and the starting point for the creative youth whose contributions qualified them for nomination for the award, which quickly found its place at the top of Arab and international cultural events. Al Qubaisi added: “The award bears the name of a leader who earned the respect of the world as a man of peace and development, and as an advocate of tolerance and dialogue between cultures, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan”.
HE added: "The" Sheikh Zayed Book Award " is considered the cornerstone of an ambitious cultural project inspired by Sheikh Zayed’s visions, and confirms the importance of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, a beacon of rich culture and civilization in the Arab region and the world, and a destination where creators and intellectuals gather to present a concrete outcome of human thought."
HE explained that the cultural project of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is based on several themes, derived from the cultural heritage of the Arab civilization, and the Emirati identity. It opens up a wide range of convergence with other cultures, while encouraging young writers and highlighting their creativity, as well as honoring intellectual, literary, critical and research works that enrich the Arab and the global cultural movement. The award also motivates publishers to promote this vital industry, and activates the translation movement that offers a window to see the latest trends of human thought on the one hand, and provides the best creations of Arabic writings to the world on the other hand, with a special interest in literature children and adolescents' literature.
HE added that this cultural project combines tradition and modernity, and integrates the revival of ancient heritage of the UAE and the Arab culture, and the latest progress of human civilization.
"Sheikh Zayed Book Award" paves the way to researchers, authors, intellectuals, publishers and young writers to deliver their literary, intellectual and academic work to the world. It also motivates them to be more creative by honoring their role in the Arabic and global cultural movement.
Dr. Ali bin Tamim explained: "1385 works participated in this year's session, in a 12% increase from last year, which confirms the importance of this award and the vital role it plays in the cultural scene in the Arab region. Worth noting in this year's session is the high participation in the Young Author category, which reached a total number of 370 nominations, followed by the category of Arts with, 320 nominations.
Dr. bin Tamim asserted as well, that "the different Stages of the award were accompanied by an extensive cultural program, which witnessed a cultural event in September 2013, in the Russian capital, in collaboration with the UAE Embassy in Moscow and the Oriental Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, to promote awareness of the prize, and to highlight the cultural character of the UAE, in addition to recognizing the role of Russian publishers, academics, intellectuals and translators, in building bridges of cooperation and communication, with the Arab culture. Sheikh Zayed Book Award also hosted a press conference and a poetry reading, where prominent Emirati poets recited their poems during the Cremona annual festival in northern Italy, last June".
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award will organize a series of seminars and dialogues with the winners of its 8th session within the cultural program for the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, to be held during the period from April 30 to May 5 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.