Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature Shines the Spotlight on More Regional Talent

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Winners of this edition picked from a host of Arab countries

For nine years in a row the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature (Etisalat Award), organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by Etisalat Group, has recognised and rewarded publishers, authors, illustrators and designers of Arabic children’s and young adults’ books for improving the overall quality of reading material to meet and even exceed global standards.

Staying true to tradition, the opening ceremony of the 36th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2017) was offered as the stage for the awarding ceremony to announce the winners of the ninth edition of the Etisalat Award yesterday (Wednesday). Nine winners bagged the prestigious awards this year, and represented the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon.

The AED 300,000 ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ went to Two Homes Instead of One from Lebanon, written by Lorca Sbeity, illustrated by Mona Yakzan and published by Dar Al Saqi. In the ‘Young Adult’s Book of the Year’ category, Fatima Sharafeddine’s Cappuccino, another Dar Al Saqi publication, won AED 200,000.

The award for ‘Best Production’ valued at AED 100,000 was claimed by a work from Jordan, Whatever Happened to My Brother Ramiz, written by Taghreed Najjar, illustrated by Maya Fidawi and published by Al Salwa Publishers. The AED 100,000 that represented the ‘Best Illustration’ award was won by The Seventh Day’s Sheep by Amina Al Hashemi, illustrated by Maya Fidawi and published by Moroccan publisher Yanbow Al Kitab.

“Through the Etisalat Award, we will continue our efforts to develop the Arabic children’s book industry and provide young readers with quality literary and cultural products that will help regain the status of the children’s library as one of the most poignant sources of knowledge,” said Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY, highlighting the importance of the project in bringing to the fore commendable Arabic literary works for children and YA.

The AED100,000 ‘Best Text’ went to My Mother is a Gorilla and My Father is an Elephant from the UAE, authored by Dr. Naseeba Al Ozaibi, illustrated by Abdulrazaque Al Salhany, and published by Al Aalm Al Arabi.

The profile of the Etisalat Award was expanded in this edition with the ‘Digital Book App of the Year’ category. Local technology developer specialising in developing apps and digital reading tools for children, Lamsa, claimed the award. The recognition follows their excellence in developing a comprehensive digital application with more than 200 options of interactive education and entertainment, and speaks volumes about the UAE’s expertise in general in leading digital innovations to create creative intellectual tools for future generations.  

Congratulating winners on their great achievement, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi added: “In the process of reviewing and evaluating the shortlisted books for this year’s edition, we realised the immense value each one holds in its content, illustration, production quality and overall message. It is heartening to see the kind of Arabic language books regional publishers are giving children and young adults access to these days.”  

HE Abdul Aziz Taryam, CEO Advisor and General Manager of Etisalat Northern Emirates, said: “Our sponsorship of the Award stems from our belief in the importance of investing in future generations. Our future depends on what kind of adults our children will grow up to become, and good books play a pivotal role in shaping young minds. We will keep moving forward to benefit publishing in the Arabic language and keep innovating to recognise more and more talent in the field. The introduction of the ‘Digital Book App of the Year’ category this year testifies this sentiment.”

The Etisalat Award jurors represented children’s book industry experts from different countries. A mix of publishers, academics, authors, illustrators and foreign experts included Dr. Yasmine Motawy, Professor of Composition and Public Speaking at the American University in Cairo and trainer in creative writing for children, and Tamer Said, Managing Director of Kalimat Group.

Also present in the jury were Nahla Ghandour, a specialist in rehabilitation of children with special abilities, and is currently a kindergarten director in Beirut; Mertxe Paris, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mosaics Llibres publishing house, who specialises in children’s and YA literature; and Iraqi author Intelaq Mohammed Ali, children’s and YA writer and illustrator.

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