Kuwaiti contestant Yassine Ben Hassoun won the top position in the 16th session of Dubai International Holy Quran Award on Wednesday.
Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, presented the awards in a ceremony at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Deira.
Yassine Ben Hassoun bagged the Dh250,000 prize money, pushing Bangladeshi Ainul Arefin and Chadian Yakhoub Edam to second and third positions.
While Arefin won a prize money of Dh200,000, Edam bagged Dh150,000. The other top eight included Mohammed Abdalla (Sudan), Samer Al Kubaisi (Iraq), Osama Lassmr (Libya), Abdulrahman Ahmed Mohammed (Yemen), Ahmed B. A. Taha (Palestine), Adoum Hassan (Cameroon), Abdulmajeed Ahmed (Saudi Arabia) and Mohamed Abdalla (Qatar). They were gifted Dh65,000 to Dh35,000, Dh5,000 less against each lower position.
Contestants who scored 80 per cent and above were rewarded with Dh30,000 each while those whose performance was estimated at 70 to 79 per cent, received Dh25,000 each. Participants with scores less than 70 per cent got Dh20,000 each. Certificates and cash prizes were given to other participants as well.
The top five winners in the ‘Most Beautiful Recitation’ contest were named on Tuesday night. Those are Abderrahmane Toukane (Italy), Omary Abdallah (Tanzania), Yassine Ben Hassoun (Kuwait), Hamza Lazar (Morocco) and Mohammed Boochahba (Belgium). The first was granted Dh5,000 while the second received Dh4,000, the third Dh3,000, and Dh1,000 for each of the fourth and fifth winners.
Yemeni contestant Abdulrahman Ahmed Mohammed initiated the ceremony with verses from the Holy Quran, followed by the speeches of Chairman of the award organising committee Ibrahim Bu Melha and head of the arbitration panel Dr Sheikh Salem Alzahrani.
Documentaries on the 16-year history of the award, Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Mushaf (Quran copy), the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Quranic Manuscripts, and Dr Sheikh Yusuf Estes who won the Islamic Personality of the Year Award were also shown at the function. Finally the sponsors, jury members and top ten winners were honoured.
Ibrahim Bu Melha said the award, which started with two sections in 1997, has branched out to 11 categories in 2012 and saw the participation of 160 countries over its 16-year history. “This is basically due to the incessant support of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”
Head of the arbitration panel Dr Sheikh Salem Alzahrani from Saudi Arabia, said the 12-day competition this year saw 79 contestants selected from an original list of 91, after the apology of the three competitors of Australia, Bulgaria and France. “Nine other contestants from Kenya, China, Kosovo, Brunei, Suriname, Zambia, Singapore, Mozambique and New Zealand were disqualified during initial tests for poor performance.