This year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) has received the largest number of nominations in its history. The 18th edition of the awards, organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), received 4,240 nominations from 74 countries, including 19 Arab nations.

The submissions were evaluated by members of the SZBA Reading Panel Committee, which was chaired by His Excellency Dr Ali bin Tamim, SZBA Secretary-General and Chairman of the ALC, and included His Excellency Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, Executive Director of the ALC, and Prof Dr Bilal Orfali, member of the ALC Scientific Advisory Committee. It also included other members of the SZBA Scientific Committee, including Prof Dr Khalil Al Sheikh and Dr Badria Bishr. The meetings were held in the presence of Abdulrahman Mohamed Al Naqbi, Director of the ALC’s Literary Awards Department.

His Excellency Dr Ali bin Tamim said: “For nearly two decades, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has firmly established itself as an authority in the regional and global cultural arena. The award commands tremendous respect through its continued pursuit of fulfilling the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, who always sought to strengthen the foundations of creativity and knowledge, which amplifies the work of talented individuals.

“The remarkable increase in the number of submissions we received this year reflects the growing prominence of the award worldwide. We look forward to continuing along this path to enrich human knowledge, spotlighting works that elevate humanity and our collective intellectual and cultural heritage.”

This year, the most nominations were received from Egypt, followed by Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Palestine and the UAE. Outside the Arab region, India led the list, followed by the US, UK, France, Spain and Germany. The award also saw several countries participate for the first time including Slovenia, Serbia, Romania, Nepal, Mauritius, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Guinea and Djibouti.

Of the award’s 10 categories, the Young Author category received the highest number of submissions with a total of 1,078 nominations, accounting for 25 per cent of the total, an increase from 954 entries in the previous edition.

The Literature category ranked second with 1,032 submissions, making up 24 per cent of the nominations, which was an increase from 688 last year.

The Children’s Literature category received 437 submissions, representing 10 per cent of the total. The other categories are Literary and Art Criticism, Contribution to the Development of Nations, Translation, Editing of Arabic Manuscripts, Arab Culture in Other Languages, Cultural Personality of the Year, and Publishing and Technology.

Submissions from female nominees saw a notable increase, with the award receiving 1,182 nominations, compared to 1,042 in the previous edition and 915 the year before that. The number of nominated institutions also increased significantly to 201 this year, up from 24 in the previous edition.

The award introduced a new category last year, Editing of Arabic Manuscripts, which is dedicated to the editing of Arabic heritage manuscripts following scientific methods within any field of knowledge in Arabic traditions, including specialised and general lexicons.

Launched in 2006, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award aims to promote Arab literature and culture, honouring outstanding achievements of creative thinkers in the fields of literature, arts, and humanities in Arabic and other languages. The awards also aims to create new opportunities for Arabic-speaking writers and authors who write about Arab culture and civilisation in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish or Russian.