The shortlists for the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards have been announced in six of nine categories. The prize is among the top awards dedicated to supporting Arabic literature, language, and culture. The winners will be announced in April and presented on May 23 in Abu Dhabi at the start of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

These awards cover nine categories: Translation, Contribution to the Development of Nations, Literary and Art Criticism, Young Authors, Children’s Literature, Arab Culture in Other Languages, Publishing and Technology, Contribution to the Development of Nations and Cultural Personality of the Year.

The prize is a rich one, offering $200,000 to the winner in each category, as well as $272,000 in the category of Culture Personality of the Year. This year's prizes saw a 23% increase in overall submissions, to 2,349 entries.

“The Sheikh Zayed Book Award aims to showcase the most powerful, stimulating and challenging works representing the Arab world, and to meet the awards’ overarching mission, to encourage greater scholarship and creativity by recognizing and rewarding significant cultural achievements in Arabic culture," Dr Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, said.

The shortlists for the 2020 prizes are:


  • Aan Ta’ashaq Al Hayat (To Love Life) by Lebanese author Alawiya Sobh, published by Dar Al Adab Publishing & Distribution in 2020
  • Ghorfat Al Mosafreen (The Passengers Hall) by Egyptian novelist Ezzat El-Kamhawi, published by Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah in 2020
  • Fee Athar Enayat Al Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat) by Egyptian writer Iman Mersal, published in 2019 by Al Kotob Khan Library

Children’s Literature:

  • Hadyqat Al Zomorrod (The Emerald Garden) by Moroccan author Raja Malah, published by Dar AlMoualef Publishing and Distribution/ Maalem Printing, Publishing and Distribution in 2019
  • Rehlat Fannan (An Artist's Journey) by Tunisian author Mizouni Bannani, published by Dar Al Mua'nasa Publishing in 2020
  • Al Ghool wa Nabtat Al Olayq (The Beast and the Blackberry) by Emirati author Naseeba Alozaibi, published by Dar Ashjar Publishing and Distribution in 2019

Young Author:

  • Laylat Yalda (Yalda Night) by Egyptian novelist Ghada Al-Absi, published by Dar Al Tanweer in 2018
  • Ma Tarkto Khalfy (What I left Behind) by Palestinian novelist Shatha Mustafa, published by Nofal/Hachette Antoine in 2020
  • Eshkalyat Al Thaat Al Saredah Fee Al Rwayah Al Nesaayah Al Saudiah (The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel (1999 - 2012) (Critical Study) by Dr. Asma Muqbil Awad Alahmadi, published by Arab Scientific Publishers Inc. in 2020

Arab Culture in Other Languages:

  • Arabic Poetics: Aesthetic Experience in Classical Arabic Literature by Lara Harb (American), (CUP, 2020)
  • Arabic Oration: Art and Function by Tahera Qutbuddin (American) (Brill Publishers, 2019)
  • The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment by Alexander Bevilacqua (Harvard University Press, 2018)
  • L'Empire Islamique: VIIe - XIe siècle (The Islamic Empire: 7th - 11th Century) by Gabriel Martinez-Gros, published in 2019 by Passés Composés


  • Impostures by Al-Hariri, translated from Arabic to English by Michael Cooperson (American) (Library of Arabic Literature in 2020)
  • Asr Elmany (A Secular Age) by Charles Taylor, translated from English to Arabic by Naoufel Haj Ltaief from Tunisia, (Jadawel Publishing, Translation & Distribution in 2019)
  • Noor men Al Sharq (Kayf Saadat Oloom Al Hadarah Al Islamiah Ala Tashkeel Al Alam Al Gharbi) (Light from the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam Helped to Shape the Western World) by John Freely (American), translated from English to Arabic by Ahmed Fouad Basha from Egypt, (National Center For Translation in 2018),

Publishing and Technology:

  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt
  • Dar Al Jadeed, Lebanon
  • Unionsverlag, Switzerland

The shortlists for the categories Literary & Art Criticism and Contribution to the Development of Nations will be announced in the coming weeks.