Abu Dhabi: Winners of the Shaikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) were honoured on Sunday in Abu Dhabi while the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Shaikh Ahmad Mohammad Al Tayeb, has been declared Cultural Personality of the Year.
The ceremony for the most prestigious award in the region was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
The other six winners of the seventh annual SZBA include Elizabeth Kassab from Lebanon for Contribution to the Development of Nations’ Award; Adil Hadjami from Morocco, Young Author award; Tunisian Fat’hi Meskini, Translation Award; Abdullah Ebrahim from Iraq for his work in the Literary and Art Criticism category and the British author Marina Warner for her work on Arab Culture in a non-Arabic language.
Additionally, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature in Kuwait received the award for Publishing and Technology.
While the winner of the top award of the Cultural Personality of the Year won Dh1 million, the remaining winners will each receive Dh750,000.
Having doubled its entries for this year’s edition, the SZBA has nine categories with a total prize money of Dh7 million.
The awards for literature and children’s literature were withheld for the seventh session as this year’s nominations in these categories did not meet the Award’s standards and criteria.
In addition to the cash prizes, the winners also receive a certificate of merit and a gold medal. The award is supervised by a board of trustees and a scientific committee that manage the rigorous selection process, with a panel of up to five judges per category.
Having started in 2007, the Shaikh Zayed Book Award aims to promote education and creativity in the Middle East in memory of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. A total of 5,698 entries were received for the awards this year.
Meanwhile. General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Dr Al Tayeb.
Shaikh Mohammad congratulated Dr Al Tayeb on being chosen as the Cultural Personality of the Year by the Zayed Book Award 2013.
Shaikh Mohammad praised him for his leading role in the intellectual and cultural fields, and his stances on Arab and Islamic issues. He said that such stances stem from the high status occupied by Al Azhar for many centuries as a beacon for knowledge and religion, and promoting Islamic values of moderation, tolerance and peace against the advocates of extremism.
He stressed the UAE’s keenness to strengthen its cooperation and support for Al Azhar in all avenues in order to serve Islam and Muslims in the fields of knowledge, religion and education.
Shaikh Mohammad also praised the intellectual and scientific works of Dr Al Tayeb that have enriched libraries in the Arab and Islamic world with a wide range of research, studies and valuable works that address new issues.
Dr Al Tayeb hailed the wise leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his supportive role for issues concerning the Arab and Islamic world, which is a continuation of the approach adopted by Shaikh Zayed. He praised the initiatives carried out by the UAE to support the message and work of Al Azhar, as well as its charitable and humanitarian operations in needy countries.
Present at the event were Dr Hadef Bin Jua’an Al Daheri, Minister of Justice; Mohammad Bin Nakhira Al Daheri, UAE’s Ambassador to Egypt, and other senior officials. (With inputs from WAM)