x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Women's influence felt on Zayed book list

Arts news Almost a quarter of the 620 authors entered in the Sheikh Zayed Book award this year were women, significantly more than last year.

ABU DHABI // Almost a quarter of the 620 authors entered in the Sheikh Zayed Book award this year were women, significantly more than last year. Authors from 26 countries entered their work. Rashed al Oraimi, the secretary general of the awards, noted that although more than 94 per cent of the entries came from the Arab world - including only 2.7 per cent from the UAE - nominations also came in from France, Sweden, Malta and the United States.

Award winners will be announced in February and the prizes, totalling Dh7 million (US$1.9m), will be given out at a ceremony in March during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. A panel of three to five judges scores each of the works, chooses favourites, and passes on remarks to an advisory council, which then decides on the winners. This year, the panel has so far whittled down the nominees to 263, Mr Oraimi said. "Transparency and objectivity are on top of the awards' priorities list," he said of the judging process.

Among the cultural figures on the advisory committee are Mohammed al Murr of the UAE, Abdallah al Gadami of Saudi Arabia, Salah Fadl of Egypt, Radwan al Sayed of Lebanon and Waciny Laredj of Algeria. Named after the late ruler of the UAE, the Sheikh Zayed Book award recognises Arab innovators in the arts and humanities. It was created to foster appreciation for Arabic literature around the world and to create opportunities for young authors in the region.

Among the nine award categories, literature attracted the most nominations with 62. The other categories are children's literature, young authors, translation, fine arts, best contribution to the development of the country, publishing and distribution, best technology in the field of culture and the cultural personality of the year. Most of the winners receive Dh750,000 each and a gold medal. The cultural personality of the year receives Dh1m.

mkwong@thenational.ae