German philosopher Jurgen Habermas named 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s Cultural Personality of the Year

The ceremony will be held as part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Jurgen Habermas is the 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award's Cultural Personality of the Year.

The German philosopher and author, 91, will receive the award in an online ceremony as part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, running from May 23 to 29 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).

The award includes a cash prize of Dh750,000 ($204,220).

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, offered his congratulations to Habermas in a tweet that also highlighted the importance of culture and creativity in acting as a common language that transcends borders.

Given annually as part of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the Cultural Personality of the Year accolade highlights a prominent Arab or international figure or organisation whose work expands culture regionally and abroad.

Habermas joins Jordanian-Palestinian poet and anthologist Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Lebanese author Amin Maalouf and late Chinese professor and translator Xhong Jikun in winning the award since it was first established in 2007.

A pioneer in modern philosophy

Habermas is being honoured for his five-decade career in which he has been hailed as a pioneer of critical theory, promoting rational society built on dialogue and mutual understanding, as well as studies and publications in disciplines including cultural studies, moral theory, linguistics, literary theory and political science.

“Rarely do we find prominent figures in the philosophical, cultural and intellectual field like Jurgen Habermas,” said Ali bin Tamim, secretary general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

“His career has been full of accomplishments and distinguished works, which have made him the most present and influential voice in German cultural life for more than 50 years.

“Him being named Cultural Personality of the Year is a fitting affirmation of the excellence of his career and significant philosophical works, which have influenced international culture, including Arabic.”

Ten of Habermas's books have been translated into Arabic and a selection will be available at the Sheikh Zayed Book Award stand at the book fair.

Some of the translated works include 1995's Al Qawl Al Falsafy Lel Hadatah (The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity), 2001's Al Maarefah wa Al Maslaha (Knowledge and Human Interests) and 2012's Al Akhlaq wa Al Tawsol (Ethics and Communication).

Germany is guest of honour

Haberman’s achievement comes on the back of Germany being announced as the guest of honour of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

As well as having its own marquee stand in Adnec, the German book fair pavilion will host a number of cultural initiatives across the capital.

This will include a series of German film screenings at Manarat Al Saadiyat Park from Thursday to Saturday, May 27 to 29, in addition to the exhibition From Cinderella to Sinbad: German and Arab Timeless Tales, at the Cultural Foundation, which is running from May until September. Specific dates for the latter are yet to be announced.