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Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners reflect UAE’s dedication to cultural advancement

Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners reflect UAE’s dedication to cultural advancement
1 May 2024 09:21

Mays Ibrahim (ABU DHABI)

His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Presidential Court for Development and Fallen Heroes’ Affairs, honoured the awardees of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA), during a ceremony organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) on Tuesday.

Speaking with Aletihad, the SZBA awardees expressed their profound gratitude for the recognition, considering it a tribute to their respective fields and a reflection of the UAE’s dedication to intellectual and cultural advancement.

In the Translation category of the Award, Dr. Ahmed Somai from Tunisia clinched victory for his rendition of “Al-Ilm al-Jadeed” (La Scienza Nuova – The New Science) by Giambattista Vico. His translation from Italian to Arabic, published by Adab Publishing and Distribution in 2022, stood out among the entries.

Dr. Somai remarked: “I am incredibly happy and proud to receive this award. Personally, I see it as the culmination of my 40-year journey in the field of translation, spanning various genres including literature, poetry, history, and philosophy”.

“On a broader cultural level, I view this award as a recognition of the efforts of translators worldwide and the vital role translation plays in promoting cultural dialogue, fostering communication between peoples and nations, and enhancing access to knowledge,” he added.

Frank Griffel was awarded in the Arab Culture in Other Languages category for his book “The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam”, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. His work illuminates the pivotal role of Islamic philosophy and its influence on theology, science, and literature.

Upon receiving the award, Griffel expressed his gratitude, stating: “Winning this award is a great honour for me. I look forward to further engagement with scholars in the Arabic world, and I hope that the study of philosophy in Islam will benefit from this recognition.”

Griffel noted that awards like the SZBA play a crucial role in elevating discourse within Arabic literature and culture.

Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries, a China-based organisation, won the Publishing and Technology category Award for its efforts in promoting cross-cultural dialogue between China and the Arab world.

They’ve translated and published over 300 books and documents, establishing a significant database of Chinese and Arabic linguistic resources. Operating in Egypt, the UAE, Morocco, and China, the group builds bridges of knowledge through publishing, translation, education, visual media, and cultural industries.

Ahmed Al Saeed, Executive Director of Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries, expressed immense pride in receiving the honour, particularly as the initiative is largely led by youth, with over 100 translators mostly under the age of forty.

“Receiving this recognition fills us with pride and serves as motivation to further continue our mission of promoting cultural dialogues between China and the Arab region. We are honoured to undertake this immense responsibility with the support and acknowledgment from Sheikh Zayed Book Award,” he said.
The SZBA honoured Casa Árabe in Spain with the Cultural Personality of the Year award for its efforts in bridging Arab and Spanish cultures, as well as promoting Arabic language and culture in Europe and Latin America.

Director General of Casa Árabe, Irene Lozano Domingo said: “This honour encourages Casa Árabe to continue exploring ties between Spanish society and the Arab world, fostering mutual cultural exchange, coexistence, and peace. We’re proud of our 16 years of bridge-building, as recognised by the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Book Award. This reaffirms our mission, urging us to work even harder.”

Dr. Mustafa Said from Egypt emerged as the winner in the Editing of Arabic Manuscripts category 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.

Dr. Said is a musician, composer, and performer, specialising in classical Arabic music, specifically Arabic Maqam music.

He said: “I feel honoured that my name is linked to that of the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, through this recognition. I see this award as a tribute to Arabic music, signaling its resurgence in the global arena of arts and literature”.

Egyptian writer Reem Bassiouney claimed victory in the Literature category of the Award for her novel “Al Halwani...Thulathiyat al-Fatimiyeen” (Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy), which was published by Nahdet Misr Publishing, Printing and Distribution in 2022. Bassiouney’s ongoing project revolves around crafting historical novels set in Egypt during the Middle Ages, aiming to illuminate the Egyptian character through narratives interwoven with poetry, architecture, and mythology, all while emphasising the human dimension.
Bassiouney noted that this esteemed award inspires a sense of “responsibility”, guiding her commitment to continued contributions to the Arab literary world.

“I believe it is among the most crucial missions to ensure that our Arabic language and culture have a global presence, a task that the SZBA accomplishes admirably,” she added.

Dr. Houssem Eddine Chachia from Tunisia clinched the SZBA in the Young Author category with his insightful work “Al Mashhad al-Moriski: Sardiyat al-Tard fi al-Fikr al-Espani” (The Morisco Landscape Narratives of Expulsion in Modern Spanish Thought), delving into the socio-cultural dimensions of the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain while exploring the intricate relationship between memory and historic identity. Meanwhile, Dr. Khalifa Alromaithi from the UAE secured the Contribution to the Development of Nations category with his meticulously researched book “Al-Asmaa’ al-Jughrafiya – Thakirat Ajyal” (Geographical Names – Legacy of Generations), offering a comprehensive study of geographical names in the UAE, blending historical and geographical perspectives with precision and clarity.

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