Mon 10 March 2008
Abu Dhabi

Over 200 guests from all over the world gathered to celebrate this prestigious new prize, which was set up in 2007 by an independent board of trustees in association with the Booker Prize Foundation and with the support of the Emirates Foundation of Abu Dhabi.

The prize aims to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and at the same time encourage a wider readership of quality Arabic literature internationally through its connections with publishers in Europe and the USA.

The Prize also aims to facilitate regular exchanges between Arab and Western publishers and writers. Over 130 titles have been read by an international panel of judges, which comprises six independent experts in the field of Arabic literature.

In congratulating Bahaa Taher on his award, chair of judges Samuel Shimon said the judges were unanimous in expressing pride in the judging process, where the priority was gauging the literary quality of entries, and in the meetings held to select the finalists. The final meeting and vote, he said, held on the afternoon of 10 March, was marked by a spirit of democracy, goodwill and mutual respect.A press conference in London on 29 January 2008 announced the following short list of six: June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy, The Land of Purgatory by Elias Farkouh, In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa, Walking in the Dust by May Menassa, Swan Song by Mekkaoui Said and Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher, as well as revealing the names of the judges, and the long list of sixteen novels by the following authors:

Elias Farkouh, Wajdi al-Ahdal, Elias Khoury, Yasser Abed al-Hafez, Bahaa Taher, May Menassa, Jabbour Douaihy, Saad al-Kirsh, Alawiyya Sobh, Ibrahim al-Koni, Khaled Khalifa, Mekkaoui Said, Ibrahim Abed al-Meguid, Mohammed al-Fakhrani, Abed al-Aziz al- Farisi, Abed al-Jabbar Adwan.

For a full report of speeches etc, click here

For more information, go to

To download FAQs about the prize, click here

To download original launch press release in English click here

To download original launch press release in Arabic click here