UAE: Egyptian, Tunisian author bag top honours at Sheikh Zayed Book Award

The winners will be honoured at a ceremony organised by the Arabic Language Centre during the 33rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair this month


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Thu 4 Apr 2024, 5:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 4 Apr 2024, 8:37 PM

Renowned Egyptian writer Reem Bassiouney and Dr Houssem Eddine Chachia from Tunisia are among the winners of the 18th edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA).

Under the patronage of President Sheikh Mohamed, the SZBA organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), announced the winners.

Bassiouney won in the literature category for her novel ‘Al Halwani...Thulathiyat al-Fatimiyeen’ (Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy) was published in 2022. Bassiouney is working on a project to write historical novels about Egypt in the Middle Ages, where she seeks to shed light on the Egyptian character with narratives that intertwine poetry, architecture, and mythology while underscoring the human dimension.

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Dr Chachia won in the young author category for his work ‘Al Mashhad al-Moriski: Sardiyat al-Tard fi al-Fikr al-Espani’ (The Morisco Landscape Narratives of Expulsion in Modern Spanish Thought), issued in 2023. The work sheds light on the expulsion of the Moriscos who had remained in Spain, addressing its socio-cultural dimensions, and exploring the relation between memory and historic identity.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “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 organisations to reach global audiences.”

Dr Mustafa Said.
Dr Mustafa Said.

In the editing of Arabic manuscripts category, Dr Mustafa Said from Egypt won for his study titled ‘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), published by ElAin Publishing in 2023. The researcher conducted a comprehensive methodological study to analyse, understand, and critique.

Dr Khalifa Alromaithi.
Dr Khalifa Alromaithi.

Dr Khalifa Alromaithi from the UAE won in the contribution to the development of nations category for his book: ‘Al-Asmaa’ al-Jughrafiya – Thakirat Ajyal’ (Geographical Names – Legacy of Generations), published in 2022. The book is characterised by its scientific spirit, the accuracy of its language, and the clarity of its style. It constitutes a study of geographical names in the UAE, providing a reference for researchers into the subject.

Dr Ahmed Somai.
Dr Ahmed Somai.

In the translation category, Dr Ahmed Somai from Tunisia won for his translation of ‘Al-Ilm al-Jadeed’ (La Scienza Nuova – The New Science), authored by Giambattista Vico, translated from Italian into Arabic, and published in 2022. Dr Somai stands out for skillfully transferring the terminology, structure, formulation, and context in which it was mentioned in Arabic.

Frank Griffel.
Frank Griffel.

Frank Griffel won in the Arab culture in other languages category for his book ‘The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam’, published in 2021. The book sheds light on the 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.

The publishing and technology category saw China-based Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries win the Award. The group aims to establish a cultural bridge that tells China’s story and history, promoting cross-cultural dialogue between China and the Arab world.

Dr Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Secretary General of the SZBA said: “Since its inception, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has been an influential catalyst for the Arab cultural scene, actively contributing to the revitalisation of literary and poetic movements as well as translation efforts.”

Submissions for the 18th edition were the highest in the Award’s history, with 4,240 nominations received, marking a 35 per cent increase over last year’s 3,151 submissions. The number of participating countries grew to 74, including 19 Arab nations and 55 countries.

The winner of the Cultural Personality of the Year award will be announced in the upcoming few weeks. The winners will be honoured at a ceremony organised by the ALC during the 33rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair this month.


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