2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award Winners and Shortlists


Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2020/2021

Shortlists revealed and Winners chosen


Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s Board of Trustees has met to review the results of the 15th edition and approve the winners for the Award’s nine categories. The Board’s annual meeting was presided over by HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, and attended by Board of Trustees members HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi); HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the UAE President; HE Saood Al Hosani, Undersecretary, DCT Abu Dhabi; HE Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and HE Abdulla Majed Al Ali, Executive Director of the National Archives. The meeting was also attended by Mouza Al Shamsi, Director of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, Acting Executive Director, Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.

The Board of Trustees has chosen the winners after reviewing the recommendations of the Scientific Committee. The announcement of the winners’ names will take place at the end of April, followed by a virtual award ceremony when the recipient of the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ accolade will be presented with a gold medal and a certificate of merit, as well as a prize of AED 1 million. Winners of other categories will each receive a gold medal, a certificate of merit and a prize of AED 750,000.

SZBA’s Board of Trustees is the body responsible for setting the general policies of the Award, its organisational structure, and for any decision concerning the award categories and/or winners. It oversees all the Award's activities and devises policies that help achieve its objectives.

The 15th edition of the Award is the largest in its history in terms of submissions, which this year saw a total of 2,349 submissions across nine categories – a 23% increase compared to the 14th edition. Only 25 submissions were selected to be on the shortlists. Below are shortlists for five of the Award's categories.  The shortlists for the LIterature, Young Author, and Children's Literature can be found here.

• Contribution to the Development of Nations

Selected for the ‘Contribution to the Development of Nations’ shortlist are Al Ghaos Abu Sabaat Arzaq (Diving: A Rich Source of Livelihoods) by Ahmad Mohammed bin Thani from the United Arab Emirates, published Austin Macauley Publishers in 2019; Al Intiqal Ella Al Democatyah: Matha Yastafeed Al Arab men Tajarob Al Akhareen? (Transitioning to Democracy: What Can Arabs Learn from Others' Experiences?) by Dr. Ali Eldin Hillal from Egypt, published by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature in 2019; and Turath Al Iste’ela’a bayn Al Folklor wa Al Majal Al Deeny (Legacy of Supremacy between Folklore and Religion) by Dr. Saeed El-masry from Egypt, published by Batana Publishing & Distribution in 2019.

• Literary and Art Criticism

The ‘Literary and Art Criticism’ shortlist features Khetab Al Omtholah, Hewar Al Al Fikr wa Al Sultah Moqarabah Tadawlyah Maarfyah (A Parable Discourse, the Dialogue of Thought and Authority - a Deliberative Cognitive Approach) by Moroccan researcher Said Jebbar, published by Kunouz Al-Ma'refa Publishers in 2019; Masar Al Tahdeeth fe Al Fonoon Al Tashkelyah, men Al Orsomah ella Al Lawha (The Path of Modernisation in the Visual Arts, From Drawing to Painting) by Tunisian author Khelil Gouia, published by Med Ali Éditions in 2020; and Akhlaqyat Al Taaweel: men Antologia Al Nass ella Antologia Al Fahm (The Ethics of Interpretation: from the Ontology of the Script to the Ontology of Comprehension) by Moroccan author Mohamed El-Hirech, published by La Virgule Librairie et Papeterie in 2019. 

The ‘Contribution to the Development of Nations’ category witnessed a 17% increase in nominations, receiving 262 entries this year, while the ‘Literary and Art Criticism’ category saw an increase of 6% in nominations this year, receiving 199.

• Arab Culture in Other Languages

Three of the four titles in the ‘Arab Culture in Other Languages’ shortlist are in English, all by American authors. These are Arabic Poetics: Aesthetic Experience in Classical Arabic Literature by Lara Harb, published by Cambridge University Press in 2020; Arabic Oration: Art and Function by Tahera Qutbuddin, published by Brill Publishers in 2019; and The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment by Alexander Bevilacqua, published by Harvard University Press in 2018. The other title is in French, L'Empire Islamique: VIIe - XIe siècle (The Islamic Empire: 7th - 11th Century) by French historian Gabriel Martinez-Gros, published in 2019 by Passés Composés.

• Translation

The ‘Translation’ shortlist includes Impostures by Al-Hariri, translated from Arabic to English by Michael Cooperson from the USA, and published by Library of Arabic Literature in 2020; Asr Elmany (A Secular Age) by Charles Taylor, translated from English to Arabic by Naoufel Haj Ltaief from Tunisia, and published by Jadawel Publishing, Translation & Distribution in 2019; and Noor men Al Sharq (Kayf Saadat Oloom Al Hadarah Al Islamiah Ala Tashkeel Al Alam Al Gharbi) (Light from the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam Helped to Shape the Western World) by John Freely, translated from English to Arabic by Ahmed Fouad Basha from Egypt, and published by National Center For Translation in 2018.

• Publishing and Technology

The ‘Publishing and Technology’ shortlist includes Bibliotheca Alexandrina from Egypt, Dar Al Jadeed from Lebanon, and Switzerland’s Unionsverlag.

The 15th edition of Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s ‘Publishing and Technology’ category saw an increase of 82 percent in the number of submissions compared to the previous edition, with a total of 71, while the ‘Translation’ category received 175 entries. The ‘Arab Culture in Other Languages’ received 116 submissions this year, which represents a 41 percent increase compared to the 14th edition of the award.


The winners will be honoured during a virtual ceremony in May, when the recipient of the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ accolade will be presented with a gold medal and a certificate of merit, as well as a prize of AED 1 million. Winners of other categories will each receive a gold medal, a certificate of merit and a prize of AED 750,000.


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Published Date - 20/04/2021