Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan has honoured the winners of the first edition of the Sard Al Thahab Award. Launched by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), the awards honour storytellers and narrators of literature and folktales, shedding light on their most notable works that have made an indelible mark on the Emirati, Arab and international cultural landscape.
The winners were celebrated in an official ceremony held yesterday at Al Dhafra Castle, attended by His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi); His Excellency Ahmed Matar Al Dhaheri, Director of the Office of the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region; His Excellency Nasser Mohammed Al Mansouri, Undersecretary of the Court of the Ruler’s Representative Court in Al Dhafra Region; His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC; and His Excellency Abdullah Majid al Ali, Director General of National Archives and National Library, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Sard Al Thahab Award, along with a number of high ranking officials.
His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Through the Sard Al Thahab Award, we are safeguarding the art of storytelling that is deeply ingrained in our literary tradition and heritage. The Arabic language is interwoven with our heritage and extensive history, and it is essential to ensure its continuity and longevity. In recognising and awarding these talented writers, we continue to celebrate the literary works that contribute to the intangible heritage of our nation.”
His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC, said: “The ALC continues to champion cultural initiatives that enhance the UAE’s creative and cultural scene. The Sard Al Thahab Award forms part of the ongoing efforts to celebrate creative storytellers and highlight their new projects, which help enrich the local library, spark readers’ imagination and expand their intellectual and knowledge horizons.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan honoured the winners in the Unpublished Short Story category, namely, Moroccan author Abdelrahim Selili for his story Zilzal (Earthquake), Mahmoud Saeed Mohamed from Egypt for his story Ibn Aarous: Almataha wal-Khalas (Ibn Aarous: The Maze and the Salvation), Egyptian author Rania Ahmed Helal Kamel for her story Ma Bayn Shiqqay Raha (Between Two Millstones), and Huda Al Shamashi from Morocco for her story Marthiyat al-Itr wal-Bahr (Elegy of Fragrance and the Sea).
In the Published Short Story category, Emirati writer Lulwah Al Mansouri won for her story Indama Kanat al-Ard Murabaa (When the Earth Was Square), while in the Popular Narratives category, Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam from the UAE won for his collection of stories Banat Waq Waq wa Hikayat Ukhra (The Girls of Waq Waq and Other Stories).
As for the Illustrated Story category, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan presented the award to Emirati artist Mohamed Hassan Ahmed won for Al Zahra allati la Tamoot (The Flower That Never Dies), a cinematic piece with deep and innovative ideas, enchanting and poetic cinematography, concise dialogues, and a unique local narrative style. The Narrators category, for its part, Dr. Najima ThayThay Ghazali from Morocco was awarded for her storytelling, which preserves the original narrative language and presents it in a suspenseful style.
Finally, the Emirati Narration category award went to French-language novel Le Faucon (The Falcon) by French author Gilbert Sinoué, published by Gallimard in 2020. The novel revolves around the character of the Founding Father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, documenting the narrative of Sheikh Zayed’s life using the metaphor of the falcon with all that it symbolises – from authenticity to strength, wisdom, foresight, and ambition to soar to great heights. The narrative recounts the significant historical milestones in Sheikh Zayed’s life, which align and resonate with the modern history of the UAE.
The Sard Al Thahab Award is an initiative by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre that draws its inspired name from the thoughts and poetry of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The first edition of the Sard Al Thahab Award drew participants from countries around the world and across all categories. The awards received more than 983 nominations from 22 countries, which underscores the important role it plays in generating a unique creative movement in the field of narration.