The Bookseller – News – Shortlists unveiled for Sheikh Zayed Book Award after record 3,000 entries

Shortlists have been unveiled for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, which received a record 3,000 entries from 55 countries, a 28% increase from last year.

The prize is dedicated to Arab literature and culture, with a cash prize of 750,000 UAE dirhams (£155,000). The winners will be announced at the end of April and awarded at a special ceremony at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on May 24, after two years of virtual ceremonies. The Cultural Personality of the Year will receive a prize of AED1 million (£206,500). Shortlisted titles in the Children’s Books and Literature categories will also be eligible for translation funding through the Prize’s Translation Grant.

The award has announced shortlists for six of its nine categories, with Ezzat el Kamhawi, Meryem Sebti, Nawal Nasrallah and Maria Daadoush are all present (see full lists below). Seven different languages ​​are represented: Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian.

In the Literature category is the Emirati poet and painter Maisonoon Saqer whose book Maq’ha Reesh, Ain Ala Massr (A look at Egypt: Reesh Café published by Nahdet Misr Publishing) focuses on a legendary Cairo café at the heart of 20th century Egyptian political, social and cultural life.

She takes on Moroccan author and academic Said Bengrad with her work Wa Tahmelany Hayraty Wa Dh’anony. Seerat Altakween (Composition Biography: Thoughts and confusion carry me, published by Le Center Culturel Du Livre) which presents an intimate biography of the generation that experienced Moroccan independence.

Egyptian novelist Ezzat el Kamhawi, who was shortlisted in 2018 and 2021, is nominated for his Covid-era novel, Ghorbat Al Manazil (Strangers at home, published by Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah), taking place in a building where the inhabitants are confined.

The shortlist of children’s literature includes Syrian author Maria Daadoush whose previous books, The fly flew over the pond and Diary of a Martian Child, have been translated into English. She is shortlisted for Loghz al Kora al Zujajiya (The mystery of the glass ball, published by Dar Al-Saqi). Previously shortlisted Moroccan writer Raja Mellah is nominated for Maw’idi maa al Noor (My appointment with the light, published by Al Mu’allif), about a girl born with a rare disease who is determined to follow her dreams, and Syrian writer Bayan Al-Safadi competes with her collection of poetic tales, Sham Tadhak (A laughing sun published by Dar Al Banan).

Full shortlists:


  • Ghorbat Al Manazil (strangers at home) by Ezzat el Kamhawi (Egypt), published by Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah in 2021
  • Wa Tahmelany Hayraty Wa Dh’anony. Seerat Altakween (Song Biography: Thoughts and Confusion Carry Me) by Said Bengrad (Morocco), published by Le Center Culturel Du Livre in 2021
  • Maq’ha Reesh, Ain Ala Massr (A look at Egypt: Reesh Cafe) by Maisoon Saqer (UAE), published by Nahdet Misr Publishing (Egypt) in 2021

Children’s literature:

  • Sham Tadhak (A laughing sun) by Bayan Al-Safadi (Syria), published by Dar Al Banan in 2020
  • Loghz al Kora al Zujajiya (The mystery of the glass ball) by Maria Daadoush (Syria), published by Dar Al-Saqi in 2021
  • Maw’idi maa al Noor (My date with the light) by Raja Mellah (Morocco), published by Al Mu’allif in 2021

Young author:

  • Al Kaa’in al Balaghi al Lugha wal Aaql wal Istita’a fi Kitab ‘Al Bayan wal Tabyeen (Rhetorical object: language, reason and capacity in the book ‘Al-Bayan wal-Tabyeen’) by Mustafa Rajwan (Morocco), published by Dar Kunouz Al Maarifa in 2021
  • Al Badawa fi al She’er al Arabi al Qadeem (BEdouinism in ancient Arabic poetry) by Dr Mohamed Al-Maztouri (Tunisia), delivered by the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Human Sciences of the University of Manouba and the GLD Foundation (Complex Al-Atrash du Livre Spécialisé) in 2021
  • Al Hikaya al Shaabiya al Saudia al Maktooba bil Fus’ha: Dirasa fi al Muta’aliyat al Nasiya (Saudi Folktales Written in Fus’ha: A Study of Textual Transcendence) by Manal Salem Al-Qathami (Saudi Arabia), issued by the Arab Diffusion Foundation in 2021

Arabic culture in other languages:

  • Revealed sciences: natural sciences in Islam in 17th century Moroccoby Justin K Stearns (USA), published by Cambridge University Press in 2021
  • The Thousand and One Nights in Contemporary World Cultures: Global Commodification, Translation, and the Cultural Industryby Dr. Muhsin J Al-Musawi (Iraq/USA), published by Cambridge University Press (UK) in 2021
  • Avicenna – Prophecy and government of the world (Avicenna – Prophecy and world governance), by Meryem Sebti (France), published by Editions du Cerf in 2021
  • The Alhambra: at the crossroads of stories (The Alhambra: at the crossroads of stories), by Edhem Eldem (Turkey), published by Les Belles Lettres, 2021
  • Die Deutschen und der Orient. Faszination, Verachtung und die Widersprüche der Aufklärung (The Germans and the Orient: fascination, contempt and contradictions of the Enlightenment), by Joseph Croitoru (Germany), published by Carl Hanser Verlag in 2018
  • The perfume of existence: Sufismo y no-dualidad in Ibn Arabi de Murcia (The scent of existence: Sufism and non-duality in Ibn Arabi de Murcia), by Fernando Mora (Spain), issued by Almuzara in 2019
  • Surrealismi Arabi 1938-1970: Surrealism and the letteratura araba in Egitto, Siria e Libano (Arab Surrealism 1938-1970: Surrealism and Arab Literature in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon), by Arturo Monaco (Italy), issued by Istituto per l’Oriente CA Nallino in 2020
  • Этимологический словарь древнеарабской лексики (Материале избранных текстов позисламской поэзии (etymological dictionary of antique Arabic (based on the material of selected texts of pre-Islamic poetry). Number III, by Anna Belova (Russia), published by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2016.


  • Ratha’il al Maarifa: Bahth fi al Ahkaam al Akhlaqiya al Fikriya’ (The Vices of Knowledge: Essay on Intellectual Ethics) written by Pascal Engel, translated from French into Arabic by Dr. Kassem Almekdad (Syria), and published by Ninawa Studies Publishing & Distribution in 2021
  • Fadaalat al Ikhwan fi Tayibat al Ta’aam wal Alwan’ (The Best of Al-Andalus and Al-Maghrib Delicious Foods and Dishes: A Cookbook by the 13th-Century Andalusian Scholar Ibn Razin Al-Tujibi, 1227-1293), written by Ibn Razin Al-Tajibi, translated from Arabic to English by Nawal Nasrallah (Iraq/USA), and published by Brill Publishing in 2021
  • Nash’at al Insaniyat Einda al Muslimeen wa fi al Gharb al Maseehi’ (The Rise of Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West), written by George Makdisi and originally published by Edinburgh University Press in 1990, translated from English to Arabic by Dr. Ahmed Aladawi (Egypt) and published by Madarat for Research and Publishing in 2021

Publishing and technology:

  • Internationale Jugendbibliothek (library), Germany
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina (library), Egypt
  • Sindbad (publisher), France

About Norma Wade

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