UAE: 'I will write till my last breath,' says Sheikh Zayed Book Award winner

The 77-year-old told Khaleej Times that his Arabic book covers over 50 years of life experiences, works, and challenges of Iraqi and Arab cultural landscape


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 23 May 2023, 7:40 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 May 2023, 10:36 PM

Dr Ali Jaafar Al Allaq feels that poetry is a beautiful and a special way to express feelings, ideas, experiences and opinions, and he will continue to write till his last.

The Al Ain-based Iraqi poet and critic has won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the literature category for his book ‘Ila Ayn Ayyathouha Al Kaseedah’ (‘Where to, O Poem?’ An Autobiography).

Al Allaq, the 77-year-old, told Khaleej Times that his Arabic book covers more than 50 years of his life experiences and works, as well as the challenges of the Iraqi and Arab cultural landscape.

“The book explains about life, which is filled with many achievements, problems, challenges, political issues and more,” Al Allaq said after receiving the Award during a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi.

The Award commemorates the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Founding Father, and his pioneering role in promoting national unity and development. The Award is presented annually to outstanding writers, intellectuals, publishers and young talent whose work enriches Arab intellectual, cultural, literary and social life.

“Sheikh Zayed was a great man. He was not just a President of the UAE but a very nice poet too. I am honoured to receive this prestigious award with a long history of recognising talents. Every poet and a writer have ambition to reach such a level to earn this Award. This recognition is important for me. I feel very proud. But this can be regarded as a great challenge for me to further make improvements in my writings and so on.”

Al Allaq, who has published more than 20 poetry books and 11 in prose, the most recent of which is the winning one, underlined that he will continue to write till his last breath.

“Poetry is a passion not a profession. It lives with a poet all through their lives. We have no deadlines, and I will continue until death comes. I will continue to write. Whatever subjects and topics are there, poets have a special way to express it through poetry. It’s not like journalists or how historians write. There’s a difference.”

Alallaq moved to Al Ain in 1997 and has made the ‘Garden City’ his home and taught at UAEU modern literature and criticism.

“Al Ain is a beautiful place. Time to time, I go to Iraq to visit my relatives and friends. But my regular life is being spent in Al Ain.”

The award, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, is held under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Other winners included Omar Khairat (cultural personality of the year), Mathieu Tillier (Arab culture in other languages), Said Khatibi (young author), Chokri Al Saadi (translation), Dr Jalila Al Tritar (the art and literary criticism); Dar ElAin Publishing (the publishing and technology).


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