Accolades for Zayed Book Award winners at Abu Dhabi ceremony
ABU DHABI // The winners of the seventh annual Zayed Book Award received their accolades at a glittering ceremony in the capital last night.
The recipients were each handed their certificates by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser and Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Along with the prestige of the award, each winning author also received a share of the Dh7 million prize.
The judging panel had a mammoth task, with 1,262 nominations across nine categories, doubling last year's record.
Dignitaries, officials and members of the literary community turned out in their hundreds to honour the award winners.
The Cultural Personality of the Year Award went to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Cairo, Dr Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al Tayyeb, for his work in encouraging a culture of tolerance, dialogue and protection of civil society.
"I am really quite proud to receive this award thanks to its great standing worldwide and what it stands for," he said.
"This is not a strange tradition to the customs of the UAE, a country that has always recognised innovators," the Grand Imam said.
"This will stimulate us to move forward and to adopt a line that will be balanced and adhere to the principle of tolerance and rejecting violence."
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Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab, from Lebanon, won the Development and Building of Nations award for her work Contemporary Arab Thought, which explores attitudes of the Arab world and how they translate across the globe.
"I worked for over 10 years on this book, so it is wonderful to have this award and recognition," she said.
"But I think for me, it is such a wonderful tribute to Arab thinkers, women and men, who have been really producing this kind of very tough critical thinking in the midst of very difficult conditions and circumstances.
"This kind of critical work must be made known to Arabs first of all so that it is taught, transmitted, discussed and developed further."
The British author Marina Warner won the Arab Culture in non-Arabic Languages award, for her work Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights.
Although she could not be there to receive the award in person, she said it was "wonderful to be given this mark of recognition from this part of the world. Wonderful and unexpected. I loved writing about the nights - they have given me the most enjoyable years of research I have ever had and it is very very encouraging if I have managed to convey some of that pleasure and interest I found in them."
Dr Adil Hadjami received the Young Author award for his philosophical work Falsafat Jeel Deleuze.
"It is an honour and a responsibility because I am young, I must get better as I get older," he said.
"The impact of these awards is very important because we need awards like this. In small countries and in the Arab world, we must have authors and philosophers to have a great intellectual and cultural revolution."
Other winners included Fathi Meskini from Tunisia, who received the Translation Award for his Arabic translation of the German philosophical study Being and Time by Martin Heidegger.
The Literary and Art Criticism Award went to Dr Abdullah Ibrahim, a researcher from Iraq, who has published 14 books and 30 scientific papers.
The final award for Publishing and Technology went to the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature in Kuwait, which seeks to promote and develop intellectual production across the Arab region.
The ceremony at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, hosted by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, was opened by Dr Ali bin Tamim, Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
"We have developed the award to continue to strive towards achieving its objectives, to spread regionally and globally from its home, the United Arab Emirates, carrying the name of the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan," Dr bin Tamim said.
"The award seeks to continue to spread the power of the word in honouring, appreciating and encouraging the works of the writers, supporting creativity and promoting a culture of open channels of communication with the rest of the world."
Updated: April 29, 2013 04:00 AM