Writers and publishers are being invited to submit their entries for next year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA), the Arab world’s most prestigious literary award. The submission period for the 16th edition of the SZBA, organised by the Arabic Language Centre, part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), will run from June until 1 October, 2021.

The announcement follows the success of the 15th edition’s virtual awards ceremony, which received widespread praise and publicity after it was broadcast across social media and television networks on 24 May.

“We now welcome submissions for the next edition of this prestigious literary prize, with the tributes of the 15th edition’s success still garnering attention in literary circles,” said HE Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre. “We owe this success not to chance or improvisation, but to our disciplined planning, analysis and foresight to present the Sheikh Zayed Book Award to the world in a manner that fits its namesake, status and position as a hub of creativity, culture, literature, translation and publishing.

“Whether it is held virtually or conventionally, the award has proved by way of example that it is worthy of world’s respect and appreciation.”

The 15th edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award received a record number of submissions, totalling 2,349 from 57 countries – an increase of 23% compared to the previous year. This brings the total number of submissions to have competed for the award’s nine categories since its inception to 19,095.

Winners of the 15th edition of Sheikh Zayed Book Award included Egyptian poet and writer Iman Mersal, who won the Literature award for her book In the Footsteps of Enayat al-Zayyat, which was published by Al Kotob Khan Library in 2019. Saudi academic and critic Dr. Asma Muqbel Awad al-Ahmadi won the Young Author category for her critical study The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel (1999 - 2012), published by Arab Scientific Publishers Inc. in 2020. The Literary and Art Criticism award went to Tunisian researcher Khelil Gouia for his pioneering work The Path of Modernisation in the Visual Arts, From Drawing to Painting, published by Med Ali Editions in 2020, while Lebanon’s Dar al Jadeed won the Publishing and Technology category.

Winners also included Tunisian writer Mizouni Bannani, who received the Children’s Literature award for his book An Artist's Journey, published by Dar Al Mua'nasa Publishing in 2020. Egyptian writer and researcher Dr. Saeed El-Masry  won the Contribution to the Development of Nations category for his book Legacy of Supremacy between Folklore and Religion, which was published by Batana Publishing and Distribution in 2019. American researcher Tahera Qutbuddin came first in the Arab Culture in Other Languages ​​category for her book Arabic Oration: Art and Function, published by Brill Publishers in 2019. American translator Michael Cooperson picked up the Translation award for his book Impostures, for translating Maqamat al-Hariri from Arabic to English, published by the Library of Arabic Literature of New York University - Abu Dhabi.

The submission period for 16th edition of the SZBA was announced at the recent meeting of its Scientific Committee, chaired by HE Dr. bin Tamim. Also in attendance were comittee members Professor Dr. Khalil Al Sheikh from Jordan, Juergen Boos from Germany,  poet and researcher Sultan Al-Ameemi from the UAE, Jordanian-German translator Mustafa Al-Slaiman, Professor Floréal Sanagustin from France, Professor Dr. Muhammad Abu al Fadl Badran from Egypt, Jordanian-American academic Dr. Khaled Al-Masri, and Professor Mohammad Al-Safrani from Saudi Arabia.

The categories for the 16th edition include Literature, Translation, Contribution to the Development of Nations, Arabic Culture in Other Languages, Children’s Literature, Literary and Art Criticism, Young Author, Publishing and Technology, and Cultural Personality of the Year.

The SZBA welcomes self-nominations from the authors themselves, or publishing houses can submit their book nominations after obtaining the authors’ written consent. The nominated original works must be written in Arabic, except the ‘Translation’ category,  where it must be translated to or from Arabic. The other exception is the ‘Arabic Culture in Other Languages’ category, where the entries should be published in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish or Russian.

More information on electronic submission requirements and processes can be found at www.zayedaward.ae