Vice-President speaks about the UAE’s growth after accepting Cultural Personality of the Year award
Abu Dhabi: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was honoured with the Cultural Personality of the Year award at a ceremony to present the Shaikh Zayed Book Awards in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The Cultural Personality of the Year category is considered to be the most eminent of the Shaikh Zayed Book Awards. Shaikh Mohammad was awarded in recognition for his work and initiatives in promoting the UAE and its culture, as well as many social causes.
Accepting the award, Shaikh Mohammad delivered a speech recounting how the union was formed and established thanks to the commitment of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
He said: “I would like to tell you a story about the founders [of the UAE]. I knew Zayed before the establishment of the union. As you know there were nine emirates and he visited all of them. One day, [Shaikh] Zayed and [Shaikh] Rashid [Shaikh Mohammad’s father] met in a small tent and sat on the floor with some cushions. They prayed together and had lunch. I had the honour of serving them coffee ... The challenges at the time were very big; they were related to the fact that the Arab people did not establish unions and some foreign countries did not want unions to be established.
“The persistence of [Shaikh] Zayed and his wisdom, along with [Shaikh] Rashid, made the union possible... He used to meet with students, teachers, everyone. When he moved, everyone moved. [Shaikh] Zayed wasn’t one among us, he was the nation in one man. I can say now Zayed, your children are now global and they have reached out to the world.”
Amongst the many notable projects launched by Shaikh Mohammad include the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, launched in 2007 with a $10 billion endowment, with the goal of developing educational standards and research in the Arab world.
Among the award-winners this year was Palestinian writer Osama Alaysa, whose novel Majaneed bait Lahem (The fools of Bethlehem) won in the best literature award category. Alaysa’s novel narrates the history and changes that took place in Bethlehem. The novel utilises a traditional narrative form similar to that of Arabian Nights, and also employs modern narrative writing techniques in telling its story, with a wealth of characters and stories.
Picking up the award in the Translation category was Japanese researcher Hanawa Haruo, for his immense work in translating Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo trilogy into Japanese. Published by Kokusho Kankokai, Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy goes through the social history and changes Egypt went through from 1920 to 1950, with Haruo’s translation offering a unique opportunity for understanding and appreciation of Arab culture and history to a Japanese audience.
The winner in the Arab Culture in Other Languages category was another Japanese author and researcher, Sugita Hideaki, for Arabian-Naito to Nhin-Jin (The Arabian Nights and the Japanese) book. Published by Iwanami Shoten, the book looks at how the Arabian Nights influenced aspects of modern Japanese culture, such as Japanese children’s literature, Japanese theatre, cinema, and fiction.
The winner in the Publishing and Technology category was the Arab Scientific Publishers from Lebanon. The institution created 30 years ago has been involved in publishing scientific and intellectual work aimed at building knowledge in the Arab world. Among its published works are translated writings from other languages into Arabic. The group’s material is targeted at all age groups.
Four categories were withdrawn from this year’s edition of the award, includinbg the Literary and Art Criticism award, the Young Author award, the Contribution to the Development of Nations Award, and the Children’s Literature Award, due to the poor quality of nominations in these categories.
The prize money for this year’s award totals Dh7 million, with the Cultural Personality of the Year award carrying the highest cash prize at Dh 1 million.
The winners in the other four categories each get Dh750,000.
The Shaikh Zayed Book Award has become an annual event since 2007, with the award looking to honour and recognise individuals and institutions that have made significant contributions in the field of literature, culture, and knowledge. The award also honours non-Arab researchers and authors who promote Arab culture in their own languages.
Attending the award ceremony was His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, as well as Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the UAE.