Dh750,000 prize per category: submissions open for 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award

The competition is often referred to as the Arab world’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize

Winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will be announced as part of the 2021 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The National
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One of the Arab world’s most prestigious literary prizes has announced its return.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award opened its submission process for the 2021 edition, and authors are invited to compete among nine categories with a Dh750,000 cash prize on offer for each field.

The categories are: Literature (including both fiction and poetry), Young Author (for writers under 40), Children's Literature, Publishing and Technology, Arabic Culture in other Languages, Contribution to the Development of Nations, Literary and Art Criticism, as well as Translation. The marquee award is Cultural Personality of the Year.

Running for its 15th year and organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the award has been referred to as the Arab world’s Nobel Prize for its ability to highlight key and challenging cultural works from the region.

Sheikh Zayed Book Award general secretary Dr Ali bin Tamim involved in a panel discussion at the Frankfurt International Book Fair on October 19, 2020. Courtesy Kalima Group.

With this year's award ceremony held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is hoped that next year's event will return in its regular format as part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, scheduled to run from Sunday, May 23, to Saturday, 29 May, 2021 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

"During this current global crisis, we have been reminded that no matter what happens, culture adapts to the most difficult of circumstances, and endures," said the book award's general secretary Dr Ali bin Tamim.

“As the rich cultural life of the Arab world continues to flourish, I urge writers, publishers and scholars around the world to bring the fruits of their labour to the judges’ attention. We look forward to appraising the submissions for what is sure to be another fresh and exciting edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.”

Salma Khadra Jayyusi was honoured with the title of Cultural Personality of the Year at the 2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Courtesy Lena Jayyusi 

It was also announced that the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will take part in the world's biggest international book fair, Frankfurter Buchmesse, to be held in Germany in October. Officials from the award will participate in online sessions held as part of the book fair's digital programme.

Last year's Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners include esteemed names including Tunisian poet Moncef Ouhaibi for the Literature category, and Palestinian poet, writer and translator Salma Khadra Jayyusi, who was named the Cultural Personality of the Year Award.

In her speech as part of the virtual ceremony, Jayyusi said the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is a source of motivation for regional and international authors: “Nothing in a writer’s world is more beautiful than these moments that bless their work and pushes them to write more.”

More information on the award is available on the website www.zayedaward.ae