Dubai: A famous Lebanese journalist and novelist, Ameen Maalouf, was announced the winner in the Cultural and Scientific Achievement category in the 12th edition of the prestigious Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Award.
Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Secretary General of the award, said the winner was selected out of 162 nominees by the foundation's board of trustees as per the rules of the category. The value of the prize is $120,000 (Dh438,000).
The award has four other categories with equal prize money, the winners of which were selected by a panel of judges two weeks ago.
"Ameen Maalouf is a writer and novelist with a rich memory which he has utilised throughout the four decades of his work to shed light on important moments in the lives of people in the east and introduce them to the world," Abdul Hamid said.
"He specialised in events concerning Arabs and Muslims. His novels are unique for the amount of research and hard work invested by the writer. His simple and easy way of writing and the unfolding of events, in addition to the selection of topics, have all played great roles in representing personalities and events that took place in the Arab and Islamic region.
"Maalouf's works have had a great influence in shaping opinion in the west and explaining events. His books represent a bridge between civilisations in the east and the west."
Abdul Hamid said Maalouf has directed his works at ordinary readers, which is the reason behind their popularity throughout the world and in different languages. He added that Maalouf's works like The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Leo Africanus, Samarkand, The Rock of Tanios, and The Gardens of Light, presented the mentality of the east to the western reader.
Abdul Hamid said the foundation wishes Maalouf all success in his endeavour to serve Arab culture.
Maalouf was born in Lebanon on February 25, 1947. His native language is Arabic but most of the writer's books have been published in French. His books have historical settings and fuse fantasy and philosophical ideas. Critics acknowledge Maalouf as a master storyteller who offers a sensitive view of the values and attitudes of different cultures in the Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean.
The prize will be handed to Maalouf and the four other winners in Dubai at a special ceremony.
Dr Mohammad Ali Sahmsul Din, of Lebanon, won the Poetry award while Egypt's Radwa Ashour won the story and playwright award. Dr Faisal Darraj, of Palestine, won the award in the literature and critique studies, while the late Dr Abdul Aziz Al Douri, of Iraq, won the human and future studies prize.