Winners were selected among a record 221 entries from 22 countries. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The 12th edition of Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by Etisalat Group, has announced winners of the Dh1.2 million award, who were selected among a record 221 entries from 22 countries.

Announced at a virtual live streaming ceremony held on Thursday, organisers lauded the efforts of the Arab authors, illustrators and publishers for their inspiring, creative works that nurture the imagination and inculcate a love of reading among Arab children and youth. As the most prestigious recognition for excellence in children’s literature in the Arab world, this edition saw 174 authors, 158 illustrators and 93 publishers in the region compete for the coveted award.

12th edition winners of the Etisalat Award

Shahrazizi’s Nights - Children’s Book of the Year-1604678306270
The ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ is Shahrazizi’s Nights. Image Credit: Supplied

The winner of the Etisalat Award’s Dh300,000 ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ is Shahrazizi’s Nights: A Tale Within a Tale Within a Tale, penned by Hadeel Ghonim, illustrated by Sahar Abdullah, and published by Al-Balsam Publishing House, Egypt.

The Anemones - YA Book of the year-1604678308542
The ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ category was conferred on ‘The Anemones’. Image Credit: Supplied

The Dh200,000 ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ category was conferred on ‘The Anemones’ by Haya Saleh, published by Al Yasmine Publishing and Distribution, Jordan.

The Apple - Silent Book-1604678309949
The Apple won the 'Silent Book' category. Image Credit: Supplied

The Apple by Asma Amara, illustrated by Atifa Abdullah, and published by Dar Al Buragh, Iraq, won the award in the Dh100,000 ‘Silent Book’ category.

Three awards of Dh100,000 each for Best Text, Best Illustration and Best Production were also announced at the virtual ceremony.

The winning book of the ‘Best Text’ category is Words by Jikar Khorshid, illustrated by Maha Daher, and published by Dar Najma, Syria. Aisha Abdullah Al Harithi’s The Monster and I, illustrated by Baraa Al Awour, and published by Dar Ashjar Publishing and Distribution, UAE, won in the ‘Best Illustration’ category while I Will be Fine, co-authored by Dr. Essam Asmir and Lama Azar, illustrated by Hanane Kai, and published by Jabal Amman Publishers, Jordan, was adjudged winner of the ‘Best Production’ category.

Abdulaziz Taryam

Speaking at the virtual event, Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor and General Manager of Etisalat — Northern Emirates, said: “Supporting the award underscores our unwavering commitment to identifying and nurturing new literary and creative talent, be it in the field of writing, illustration or design. We believe that children’s literature enriches young people with the right values, beliefs, imagination and creativity, and helps in the advancement of societies.”

Marwa Al Aqroubi

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, emphasised that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light a significant reality — that despite the upheavals around the globe, the only constant has been the need for knowledge and creativity. She said: “The Etisalat Award celebrates not only bookmakers, but also future makers. Every achievement we celebrate is yet another step forward towards the enrichment of Arabic children’s books, and each book created for our youngsters is an investment in their future.”

Expert jury

The judging panel of the 12th edition of Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature comprised of Noura Al Noman, novelist and science fiction writer; Dr. Abdulrahman Buali, PhD in Arabic Literature and Language; Salwa Shakhshir, General Manager of Al Salwa Publishing; Sinan Hallaq, children’s book illustrator; and Ahmed Al Ali, Managing Editor of Rewayat.

High calibre submissions from around the world

In its 12th edition, the Etisalat Award, the first of its kind in the Arab world, received entries from Egypt, Algeria, the USA, the UK and Morocco, in addition to submissions from Kuwait, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia and Sudan. Submissions also came in for the first time from Finland, Georgia, Canada, Congo, Iran and Spain.

Egypt topped the list of the submitted entries with 59 books, followed by the UAE which ranked second with 43, while Jordan, KSA, and Lebanon took third place with 22 entries each.

This year’s edition chose 171 submissions in six categories with 119 entries in the Children’s Book category, 40 in the Young Adult Book of the Year category, and 12 in the Silent Book category, while 50 entries had to be rejected for not meeting the award’s eligibility criteria.