Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2022 announces shortlist for Literature and Young Author

Nominees in the Children's Literature category were also announced ahead of the finals

(GERMANY OUT) Iman Mersal Dichterin, Ägypten / Kanada   beim Poesiefestival Berlin bei HOME-EXIT/HOME (4),  LESUNG & GESPRÄCH  am Mi 12.06.2013 - 18:30 Uhr  (Photo by Gezett/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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Emirati author Maisoon Saqer and Saudi writer Manal Salem Al-Qathami are among those whose works have been shortlisted in the first batch of categories revealed for the 16th Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Nine books were named in the Literature, Children's Literature and Young Author categories, with three shortlists in each category.

Saqer is nominated in the Literature category for her book Maq’ha Reesh, Ain Ala Massr (Eye on Egypt: Reesh Cafe), while Al-Qathami is among three writers named in the Young Author shortlist for Al Hikaya al Shaabiya al Saudia al Maktooba bil Fus’ha: Dirasa fi al Muta’aliyat al Nasiya (Saudi Folk Tales Written in Fus’ha: A Study of Textual Transcendence).

A further five categories have yet to be announced, including Literary and Art Criticism, Translation and Contribution to the Development of Nations.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, named after the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, honours writers, innovators and thinkers in literature, the arts and humanities in Arabic and other languages from across the Arab world. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, part of the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, it aims to advance Arabic literature and culture and provide new opportunities for Arabic-language writers.

With a Dh7 million ($1.9m) prize purse, it is also one of the richest literary awards in the world.

Authors writing about Arab culture and civilisation in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian are also recognised by the award, which was launched in 2007.

The 2022 award is the largest to date in terms of submissions and the number of participating countries, organisers said. More than 3,000 submissions were sent in from 55 countries, including 20 Arab nations and 35 foreign countries, an increase of about 28 per cent from 2021.

Shortlist for Literature category

A total of 852 submissions were made in this category, with the longlist of 15 titles announced in December last year. Egyptian writer Iman Mersal's novel Fee Athar Enayat Al Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al Zayyat) nabbed the Literature Award in 2021. The three works shortlisted in the Literature category for 2022 are:

  • Ghorbat Al Manazil (Strangers at Home) by novelist Ezzat Elkamhawy (Egypt)
  • Wa Tahmelany Hayraty Wa Dh’anony. Seerat Altakween (Composition Biography: Thoughts and Confusion Carry Me) by critic and academic Said Bengrad (Morocco)
  • Maq’ha Reesh, Ain Ala Massr (Eye on Egypt: Reesh Cafe) by Maisoon Saqer (UAE)

Shortlist for Young Author

This category had the highest number of entries, with a total of 881 applications. Out of the 14 longlisted titles, the three shortlisted works in the Young Author category are:

  • Al Kaa’in al Balaghi al Lugha wal Aaql wal Istita’a fi Kitab ‘Al Bayan wal Tabyeen (Rhetorical Object: Language, Reason, and Ability in the Book ‘Al-Bayan wal-Tabyeen’) by Mustafa Rajwan (Morocco)
  • Al Badawa fi al She’er al Arabi al Qadeem (Bedouinism in Ancient Arabic Poetry) by Dr Mohamed Al-Maztouri (Tunisia)
  • Al Hikaya al Shaabiya al Saudia al Maktooba bil Fus’ha: Dirasa fi al Muta’aliyat al Nasiya (Saudi Folk Tales Written in Fus’ha: A Study of Textual Transcendence) by Manal Salem Al-Qathami (Saudi Arabia)

Shortlist for Children's Literature

These names were selected from 232 entries and a further longlist of 10 works. The three shortlisted authors and titles in the Children's Literature category are:

  • Shams Tadhak (A Laughing Sun) by Bayan Al-Safadi (Syria)
  • Loghz al Kora al Zujajiya (The Mystery of the Glass Ball) by Maria Daadoush (Syria)
  • Maw’idi maa al Noor (My Date with the Light) by Raja Mellah (Morocco)

Winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award last year were named at a virtual ceremony ahead of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in May. A date for this year's gala has not been set.

More information is available at

Updated: March 17, 2022, 12:41 PM