ABU DHABI // King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been chosen as the cultural personality of the year by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award team.
Dr Ali bin Tamim, secretary general of the awards, said the decision to choose King Abdullah came as a result of his many cultural achievements.
“We are honoured to present the award to King Abdullah and that is for his great intellectual, scientific and humanitarian achievements,” he said.
One of the achievements that led to the award, said Dr bin Tamim, was the establishment in Vienna of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.
“[The centre] aims to achieve the bigger goal in realising the cultural value of coexistence,” he said.
King Abdullah also “promotes and develops scientific renaissance” through his establishment of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, he added.
Dr bin Tamim praised “King Abdullah’s brave stand against what distorts the image of Islam and Arabism, that has dragged with it the risks of crime and terrorism. His stand is based on the true teaching of Islam”.
King Abdullah’s fostering of Arabic literature was also one of the reasons why he was chosen, organisers said.
“We must mention [King Abdullah’s] international translation award that was established as a way of achieving the king’s goal in building the cultural bridges between the vast civilisations,” said Dr bin Tamim.
He was referring to the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Award for Translation established in 2006.
It is awarded to those who promote cultural exchange.
The cultural personality of the year is awarded to a prominent Arab or international figure who has contributed to culture and promotes tolerance and peace.
The Sheikh Zayed Book Awards honour intellectuals, researchers and writers who have made significant contributions to promoting culture and knowledge.
This year, the Egyptian author Abdel Rasheed Mahmoudi won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature for his novel After Coffee. It was published last year and chosen for its narration and character development in the setting of an Egyptian village in the 1940s.
Winners will receive cash prizes, certificates and a gold medal. The total prize fund is Dh7 million. The grand ceremony will be held on May 4 at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.