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The ceremony to honour this year’s winners will be held on 25 April 2019, at The Plaza Auditorium of Louvre Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ will be named and announced soon, with the winner receiving an inscribed gold medal, a certificate of merit, and a 1 million-dirhams monetary award. Winners in the other categories will receive a gold medal, a certificate of merit, and a monetary award of 750 thousand-dirhams.
Bensalem Himmich wins the Literature award for his book (The Self – Between Existence and Creation), published by Le Centre Culturel Du Livre. It is an autobiography in which Himmich offers glimpses into his life as a novelist and writer. He also discusses the intellectual stances he has held throughout the various stages of his writing career. In it he asserts the close connection between “existence”, a term impacted by philosophy, and “creation”, the path taken by oneself in struggles against various cultural and existential matters. (The Self – Between Existence and Creation) brings together creative dimensions fed by an author's technical expertise and the debating nature acquired by a critical academic. The book carries a depth of knowledge and culture that commands several readings and interaction with its content.
Bensalem Himmich is a Moroccan intellectual and author, and former Minister of Culture for the country. He attained his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Paris. Writing in both Arabic and French, some of his novels have been translated into several other languages. The Writers’ Union of Egypt chose Himmich’s novel Majnoun Al Hukm as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century, and another novel, Mu’athibati, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Himmich has spoken at several Arab, European and American forums, and received the grand award of the French Academy of Toulouse in 2011.
Kuwaiti author Hussain Almutawaa is recipient of the Children's Literature Award for his novel (I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer), published by Al Hadaek Group in 2018. Its narrative cleverly delves into questions of destruction and rebuilding, through the story of Haddam, who hopes to become a cement mixer. Between wishes and reality, stories, paradoxes and transformations, this book is beautifully written, with many twists and turns.
Hussain Almutawaa is a Kuwaiti writer and photographer born in 1989. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Criticism from the College of Arabic Language at the University of Kuwait, minoring in Philosophy. He started his literary career as a poet in 2009, and has participated in many poetry events and festivals. In 2015, he began writing short stories and won first place in the “University Poet and Story Teller” category at the University of Kuwait. Almutawaa then moved on to novels, publishing his first, Turab, at the end of 2017, and his children’s novel, (I Dream of Becoming A Cement Mixer), in 2018.
The Young Author category is awarded to Algerian scholar Dr Abderrezak Belagrouz for his book (The Essence of Values and the Freedom of Social Concepts), published by The Arabian Establishment for Thought and Innovation in 2017. The book offers a philosophical study on the derivation of related concepts and values, specifically the concept of the mind and its evolution based on methodical philosophical comparisons. It attempts to emancipate the mind from narrow and rigid scientific mathematical calculations and explore the wide open spaces of spiritual, moral and emotional values. The work showcases the author’s skill in philosophical matters, manifested through major breakthroughs in European philosophical concepts of the evolution of the mind. It is written clearly and meticulously in a neat scientific style.
Dr Abderrezak Belagrouz is an Algerian scholar with a PhD in the Science and Philosophy of Values and Knowledge. Belagrouz is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Staif-2 University in Algeria. He is also an expert judge and member of the scientific committee of the Algerian Society of Philosophical Studies. He has authored several books, including (Transformations of Modern Philosophical Thinking: Questions on Concept, Meaning and Connection), published by Al Maaref Forum, Beirut in 2018, and (For Knowledge: Honest Discussion with Self and Books), published by Al Watan Publications, Algeria in 2017.
The Literary & Art Criticism category award goes to Lebanese scholar Dr Charbel Dagher for his book Contemporary Arabic Poetry - the prose, published by Al Maaref Forum in 2018, in which the author studies the evolution of the prose poem and its general characteristics though the work of Mohammad Al Maghout and Unsi Al Haj. The book presents the difficulty of studying prose poetry, as the art form does not have an analytical perspective that is suitable to its nature and structure.
Professor Dr. Charbel Dagher is a Lebanese scholar and a Professor at the University of Balamand holding two PhDs, in Modern Arabic Literature and in Art History and Philosophy. He has written over 60 books in both Arabic and French, including (Arabic and Urbanism: the Relationship between Revolution, Culturalism and Modernity), published by Dar Al Nahar and University of Balamand in 2009, and (Modern Arabic Poetry: The Prose Poem), published by Al Maaref Forum in 2018.
In the Arabic Culture in Other Languages category, the Award goes to British academic and researcher, and classical Arabic literature specialist, Philip F. Kennedy. His book Recognition in the Arabic Narrative Tradition, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2016, studies the moment of revelation and its impact on Arabic narrative texts. In this book, Kennedy discusses a Quran verse and Prophet Mohammad’s stories. It also discusses Al Tanoukhi’s “Al Faraj baad Al Shiddah” stories and Maqamat Al Hariri, and traces the concept of revelation in various texts in a clear and vibrant comparative study.
Philip F. Kennedy is a British academic and researcher specialising in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. He holds a PhD in Classic Arabic Poetry and a Masters in Middle East Studies. He is currently working on a book called Islamic Projections, a study of narrative knowledge focusing on the Medieval Period.
The winner of the Publishing & Technology category award is the UAE’s The Arab Centre for Geographic Literature - Irtiyad al-Afaq, an independent, non-profit Arabic research centre established in 2000 under Al Suwaidi Cultural House in Abu Dhabi. The Centre focuses on geography and travel literature, publishing well-known classic and modern works. The project also offers modern travel texts authored by Arab writers, in addition to translations of accounts of journeys by foreign travellers to the Arab world. The Centre recently began looking into the publication of geographic journeys and studies dedicated to the United Arab Emirates, to bridge a clear gap of knowledge in this important literary field. The institution has also established the Ibn Battuta Geographic Literature Award, which is awarded to the best written, endorsed or translated books in its field.
Irtiyad Al-Afaq – Arab Centre for Geographic Literature: The Centre is a UAE cultural initiative established by Emirati poet and author Mohammad bin Ahmad Al Suwaidi. It was established under one of Al Suwaidi’s other projects, the Al Suwaidi Cultural House, which has published a large number of accounts of ancient and modern Arab voyages in more than 60 books. The Centre annually bestows the Ibn Battuta Geographic Literature Award for best publications of travel writing and criticism. Among the Centre’s achievements is the compiling of a comprehensive database of written voyages.