Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor, and General Manager of Etisalat by e& Northern Emirates, and Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY.
Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor, and General Manager of Etisalat by e& Northern Emirates, and Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY). Abdulaziz Taryam said the literary and artistic talents unveiled by the award represent a cultural achievement for the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Twenty-one remarkable literary works from 8 countries have earned coveted positions on the shortlist for the prestigious 15th Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature. The shortlist was unveiled during a press conference held Thursday at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah.

The shortlisted entries hail from the UAE and Egypt, each contributing five outstanding works. Jordan is represented with four captivating titles, while Lebanon offers three literary gems. Canada, Oman, Palestine and Iraq have each earned one well-deserved spot on the shortlist.

Marwa Al Aqroubi during the announcement of 21 titles from 8 countries shortlisted for 15th Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature
Marwa Al Aqroubi: The award’s global outreach was a distant dream before Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi envisioned a platform that would propel the advancement of children’s literature .

The winners of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature, an initiative organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and generously supported by Etisalat, will be officially announced during the opening ceremony of the 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair on November 1, 2023.

The press conference saw the participation of HE Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor, and General Manager of Etisalat e&- Northern Emirates, and Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY, in the presence of esteemed officials and media representatives.

The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature jury selected the shortlist from a total of 323 nominated publications, divided into the following award categories: Early childhood: 65 books; Picture book: 136 books; Chapter book: 35 books; Youth Adults book: 49; and Poetry book: 38 books

5 outstanding entries in the Early Childhood category

In the Early Childhood award category, a total of five publications have secured their positions on the shortlist. These works include:

● 16 Reasons to Tolerate Your Brother's Mischief by Noor Al Huda Mohammed, published by Dar Ashjar, UAE, featuring illustrations by Samar Maqoon.

● The Shy Radish by Yara Bamiya, published by the Palestine Book Association in Palestine.

● Feelings, Feelings? by Fatimah Al Sadoun, beautifully illustrated by Iman Abdul Hamid, published by Noon Books: Nahed AlShawa Cultural in Canada.

● House and Thread by Fatimah Nasser, adorned with enchanting illustrations by Israa Hudairi, published by Dar Al Banan in Lebanon.

● He Who Lost His Feelings by Mohannad Alakous, published by Dar Maktabty for publishing and distribution in Egypt, with the artful touch of Tahera Redaei's illustrations.

Five high-quality titles in the Picture Book category

The Picture Books category proudly presents five outstanding titles. These include:

● The Black Line by Yazan Masarwa and Bartchu Yilmaz, published by Al Salwa Publishers in Jordan.

● An Elephant on My Finger by Abdullah Al Sharhan, published by Agyal in the UAE.

● Emerging into Life, authored by Lama Azar, illustrated by Hanane Kai, and published by Jabal Amman Publishers, Jordan.

● Story of a Branch by Jikar Khorshid, published by the Red Fox Bookshop in Oman, graced with illustrations by Salma Kamal.

● The Passenger by Nabiha Mhiedly, published by Dar Al Hadaek in Lebanon, enhanced with illustrations by Walid Taher.

5 remarkable works in the Chapter Book category

The Chapter Books category boasts five exceptional publications, including:

● Destroying the World in 46 Seconds by Mais Dagher and Mohammed Al Hamawi, published by Al Yasmine Publishing and Distribution in Jordan.

● Ghost in the Camp by Fatima Sharafeddine, published by Dar Al Saqi in Lebanon, featuring the remarkable illustrations of Juwel Ashqar.

● Juha and the Genie Faoushan by Samar Mahfouz Barraj and Tharefa Haydar, published by Kiwi in the UAE.

● Rayan... My Red Notebook by Tamara Qashsha and Sasha Haddad, published by Al Salwa Publishers in Jordan.

● Shehab one Million, authored by Lamis Khadija Asli and Nancy Abdel-Raouf, and published by Dar Aliya in Egypt, accompanied by Sahar Abdullah's exceptional illustrations.

3 outstanding entries in the Young Adult Book category

The Young Adult award category stands out with three exceptional works, including:

● Budjana, an intriguing creation by Maram Bashir Sadiqi, published by Qindeel Printing Publishing and Distribution in the UAE.

● Mariam’s Earring by Rania Bedda, published by Nahdet Misr in Egypt, featuring illustrations by Aya Khamees.

● Smile so I Can Be Stronger by Sherine Sami, published by Dar Al Shorouk in Egypt.

3 distinguished titles in the Poetry category

The Poetry category has been introduced by Etisalat Awards this year, and the following works have been nominated:

● Maryam’s Friends by Hassan Al Rabieh, published by the Sharjah Department of Culture, complemented by Yaser Kareesh's illustrations.

● Water’s Singing by Mohannad Al Aqous, published by Noor Al Maarif in Egypt, adorned with illustrations by Maliha Ahmadi.

● Did You Know Him? authored by Hussein Ali, illustrated by Tahera Radai, and published by Dar Al-Buragh for Children's Culture in Iraq.

A leading cultural achievement and a platform for creatives

Abdulaziz Taryam, during the conference, underscored the cultural significance of the literary and artistic talents showcased by the award during its fifteen editions. He emphasised the UAE's pioneering role in recognising, nurturing, and offering a global platform for creative individuals to showcase their skills.

The award has consistently embraced a wide range of literary genres, catering to the interests of upcoming generations and fostering their connection to the realm of literature, including prose, poetry, graphic novels, and ebooks.

Elaborating further, Taryam stated, "Etisalat by e& believes in the importance of social responsibility in achieving sustainable development by improving and advancing the lives of individuals and their families in various domains, including social, health, cultural, economic, and athletic. Based on this established culture, we are committed to supporting and sponsoring initiatives and events that we believe can motivate, inspire, and educate members of society in line with our quest to maintain the UAE's leadership in various fields."

The Award’s global impact

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY, highlighted the global reach of the Award, which was a distant goal just fifteen years ago when Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of UAEBBY, envisioned developing the children's literature industry and enriching libraries with high-quality titles in terms of form and content.

Al Aqroubi affirmed that the Award today reaps the rewards of this vision, as it has attracted submissions from countries as diverse as Switzerland and Finland in Europe, Chad in Africa, and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. She noted that the love of the Arabic language is now present in children across the globe and that submissions from Malaysia were particularly outstanding in terms of quality.

Discussing the selection process, Al Aqroubi said: "Narrowing down the shortlist was a meticulous and demanding procedure, given the exceptional quality of the entries submitted for consideration in our 15th edition this year. The dedicated jury committee invested significant effort in discerning the finest works across the award's five categories, diligently assessing each submission according to the unique criteria for its respective category.

This task was particularly challenging due to the substantial volume of nominations, with the UAE accounting for 115 submissions, followed by Egypt with 44, Lebanon with 33, Jordan with 31, and Saudi Arabia with 19 nominations."

Dh1.2 million award

The Dh1.2 million competition is divided between the above five categories, each valued at Dh180,000 and distributed equally among the author, illustrator, and publisher, except for the 'Young Adult Book' category, which will be equally distributed between the author and publisher with Dh90,000 for each.

Additionally, as part of the award's 'Warsha' program, which was launched in 2013 with the aim of discovering and nurturing a new generation of writers, illustrators, and publishers, Dh300,000 will be dedicated to hosting workshops that harness people's ability to write and illustrate children's books.