Book prize seeks a global market

Sheikh Zayed Book Award organisers are seeking to branch out to a more international pool of entries.

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ABU DHABI // Organisers of the annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award are hoping to broaden the market for entries for next year's prizes.

Winners this year included writers from Lebanon, Syria, Morocco and Egypt. The cultural person of the year was Xhong Jikun, a professor of Arabic studies at Peking University, Beijing. Previous winners have mostly been from the Middle East and North Africa.

Organisers say they want to reach out to an international market.

Since it began in 2007, the award has received more than 700 nominations from 28 countries in the Middle East, Europe and East Asia.

"The significant successes which the award generated since its inception six years ago give us confidence … to roll out our latest session with an aspiration to reach the international market," said Juma'a al Qubaisi, a member of the award's higher council and deputy director-general of the National Library at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

The deadline for nominations from authors, translators and publishers in nine categories is September 1. Prizes for the award total Dh7 million.

Last year's award was tarnished with allegations of plagiarism after judges stripped the Algerian academic and writer Hafnaoui Baali of the gold medal and Dh750,000 in prizemoney.

This year's awards have been divided into nine categories: literature; sociological, political or economic contribution to the development of nations; children's literature; young author; translation to or from Arabic; fine arts; publishing and distribution; technology and digital works; and cultural personality of the year.

The cultural personality of the year award includes a Dh1 million cash prize. Winners of other categories receive Dh750,000 each.

Application forms can be downloaded at Nominations for the cultural personality of the year are made by academic, research or cultural institutions.

All nominated works must have been published in the past two years and be written in Arabic, except in the translation category.