SHARJAH - Teari Ya Tayara (Fly Away Kite), written by Amani Al Ashmawi and published by Egypt’s Nahdet Misr Publishing House, is the winner of the 2011 Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature.
The announcement was made during the opening ceremony of the 30th Sharjah International Book Fair on Wednesday.
His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, presented the award to Dallia Ibrahim, director of Nahdet Misr Publishing House, in the presence of Shaikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY); and Mohammad Hassan Omran, Etisalat chairman; and Abdelaziz Taryam, general manager of Etisalat in the Northern Emirates.
The announcement of this year’s winner follows an extensive selection and judging process which saw a record number of entries — all of which had to comply with specific terms and conditions — being whittled down to a list of ten, and subsequently to the shortlist of five titles. The final shortlist included My Mother and Smoking by Asala Publishers (Lebanon); When My Friend Got Sick by Yuki Press (Lebanon); Why Don’t I See What They See by Tala Establishment (Lebanon); Neglected Advices by Al Hadaek Group (Lebanon), as well as Nahdet Misr’s winning title, Fly Away Kite.
All five shortlisted publishing houses were present at the opening ceremony in anticipation of being crowned the winner of the Dh1 million award, half of which goes to the publishing house and the other half to the author and illustrator.
Presenting the award, Shaikh Sultan expressed his happiness at how the award has rapidly become a prestigious fixture on the global publishing calendar.
Shaikha Bodour, advocate of high-quality literature for Arab children, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the breadth and depth of entries this year, and we can only imagine how it can get even better in the future. We have a worthy winner, and we hope that this will provide encouragement to authors and publishing houses who wish to attract international rights to their books, as well as encourage parents and children to read together.”
Commenting on Etisalat’s involvement — the award was sponsored by it for the third year running — Taryam said: “We at Etisalat have backed this award since its inception, and we are incredibly proud to be a part of what it stands for. Etisalat understands the importance of developing and promoting quality literature, and we look forward to our association with the award for years to come.”
Al Ashmawi now joins the exclusive ranks of Etisalat Award-winning authors Walid Taher, who wrote and illustrated last year’s winning title Al Noqta Al Sawda (The Black Dot), published by Egypt-based Dar El Shorouk, and Nabiha Muhaidali, who penned the 2009 winner Ana Oheb (“I Love”), which was illustrated by Nadeen Saidani and published by Dar Al Hadaek from Lebanon.
Accepting the award, Al Ashmawi said, “I am overwhelmed by this honour, and so excited at the opportunities it can bring. I would like to thank Nahdet Misr Publishing House for their support, as well as Etisalat for their sponsorship. I would also like to thank Shaikha Bodour and the UAEBBY for establishing this award, and for recognising talented children’s authors and illustrators throughout the region.”