Winners of biennial Al Burda Award announced at Expo 2020 Dubai

Announcement was made ahead of the first day of Al Burda Festival, a three-day event that celebrates Islamic arts and culture

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The 16th Al Burda Award has been given to 30 winners over six categories at this year’s Al Burda Festival.

Held at Expo 2020 Dubai, the biennial festival, which celebrates Islamic arts and culture, returns after being postponed last year owing to the pandemic.

The winners – split into the categories of classical poetry, Nabati poetry, modern calligraphy, ornamentation and typography – will receive cash prizes starting from Dh10,000 and going up to Dh70,000. The talents were chosen from submissions through an open call held over the summer.

Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE's Minister of Culture and Youth, was present at the ceremony on Sunday evening to hand over the awards to the winners. Speaking of the award earlier this year, she said: “With the rapid developments taking place in the world, we must preserve the heritage embodied by the award and promote diversity in Islamic culture.

“We must develop this heritage and integrate it into the culture of the age, so that it is available for the younger generations to enrich their knowledge of the Islamic heritage."

Launched in 2004, Al Burda Award was created to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed and to function as a global platform for Islamic arts. Since its creation, the award has recognised 300 artists for their talents and work.

Taking place between Sunday and Tuesday at the Dubai Exhibition Centre, South Hall, in Expo 2020 Dubai, Al Burda Festival also includes a diverse programming of art exhibitions, talks, masterclasses, screenings and live performances exploring the theme of Transcending Spaces, Discovering the World.

Among the highlights of the festival is the inclusion of a work from Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond: Artist Commissions this year, specifically an interactive installation by Rasheed Araeen, a pioneer of Minimalism.

Araeen’s work operates as a communal cafe constructed out of eight gazebos affixed in a square. Titled Shamiyaana, the installation draws inspiration from the concept of shamiyaanas, or marquees, found in the Indian subcontinent that are used as sites of gathering.

The festival will also feature panel discussions by important figures in the regional art scene, including Hala Khayat, Souraya Noujaim, Manal Ataya, Nujoom Alghanem and Isobel Abulhoul, to name a few.

The full list of Al Burda Award 2021 winners:

Classical Calligraphy

  • Mohamed Gaber Abouelella (first place)
  • Meryem Nuruzi Halilani (second place)
  • Noman Tayseer Rajab (third place)
  • Ahmed Ali Nazami Reihanloo (fourth place)
  • Mahfod Thunnun (fifth place)

Modern Calligraphy

  • Mahsa Javad Davachi (first place)
  • Dhia Al-Jazaeri (second place)
  • Babak Mohammed Ali Hejazi (third place)
  • Masoud Asghar Mohebbifar (fourth place)


  • Mihirben Beyza Kaya (first place)
  • Masoumeh Ahmad Moradi (second place)
  • Afsaneh Khademreza Mahdavi (third place)
  • Asgar Ahmad Moradi (fourth place)
  • Zaynab Ebrahim Shahi (fifth place)

Classical Poetry

  • Heba Alfeky (first place)
  • Diyaa Alkilamy (second place)
  • Lamis Al Rahabi (third place)
  • Bahija Masri Idlibi (fourth place)

Nabati Poetry

  • Abdulaziz Hamed Mohammed Al-Omairi (first place)
  • Mohammed Hamdan Alanezah (second place)
  • Ali Alqarni (third place)
  • Muzna Rabia Albrieki (fourth place)


  • Duaa Abzeed
  • Tarek Samir Alsawwa
  • Jamal Eldin Elsamani Mohammed
  • Reza Babajani
  • Bita Amel
  • Lama Kadri
  • Fatima Abdulla Alketbi
  • Asia Alseshani

Al Burda Festival runs until Tuesday, December 21 at Expo 2020 Dubai. More information is at

Updated: December 20, 2021, 5:41 AM