SHARJAH, 28th January, 2017 (WAM) — The Emirate of Sharjah has become a hub for cultural events, endorsed by an entire spectrum of initiatives that enrich the literary and cultural arena locally, regionally and internationally. A shining example of that is the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, organised annually by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat Group).
Launched in 2009 by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY, it has been instrumental in supporting publishers, authors and illustrators of Arabic children’s and young adults’ books around the world.
The Award aims to recognise and reward the best talents in the children’s books and encourage the publication and distribution of Arabic books for younger readers with quality texts, designs and production. Its aims are in line with the vision of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to promote reading as a noble habit and instil a love of Arabic books in children and young adults.
The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature is specifically designed for children’s books aimed at age groups between 0-18 years old. The competition is open to all Arabic and international publishing houses as long as the entry is written in Arabic, is original – and not translated – and is of an excellent literary and artistic standard. Each publishing house has the right to submit a maximum of three entries in the Children’s Category and an unlimited number of entries in the Young Adult Category.
The submitted entries should not have been published more than three years previously for the Children’s Category and not more than five years previously for the Young Adult Category. They should also not have previously received any local, Arab or international awards. The eighth edition of the event has seen the highest number of participants and some of the highest quality of submissions since its inception in 2009. There have been 151 entries from 53 Arab publishing houses in 13 Arab Countries, including 87 entries in the ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ category and 64 entries in the ‘Young Adults’ Book of the Year’ category.
The Ruler of Sharjah honoured the winners of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature at the opening ceremony of the 35th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). ‘Ehem..Ehem Marrerni Men Fadlek’ (Ahem..Ahem Let me Pass Please) written by Nabiha Mheidly, illustrated by Walid Taher and published by Al Hadaek Group, Lebanon, won the ‘Children’s Book of the Year’, while ‘Sorakh Khalf Al Abwab’ (Scream behind the Doors), written by Rania Hussein Amin and published by Nahdet Misr Publishing Group, Egypt, won the ‘Young Adults’ Book of the Year’.
The Winner of the ‘Best Text’ was ‘Oredo an akoon Solhafat’ (I Want to Be a Turtle), written by Amal Farah, illustrated by Osama Abu Al Ola and published by Shagara Publishing House, Egypt, while ‘Bolqosh’ (Bolqosh) written and illustrated by Yara Bamieh and published by The Palestine Writing Workshop, Dalia Association, Palestine won ‘Best Production’. Finally, the ‘Best Illustration’ went to ‘Berkat Al Asela Al Zarqa’a’ (The Pool of Blue Questions) written by Maya Abu Alhayat, illustrated by Hassan Manasrah and published by The Palestine Writing Workshop, Dalia Association, Palestine.
In recognition of its magnificent contribution to promoting a love of literature in young people through its sponsorship of the Etisalat Award, Etisalat Group was bestowed a ‘UAE Pioneers Award’ as the ‘Best Private Sector Initiative to Encourage Reading among Children. Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO of Etisalat Group, received the award from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minster of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the ceremony that took place in November last year. The event saw a total of 45 organisations – one representing each year of the UAE’s formation – honoured for having made a considerable impact in elevating reading during the UAE’s ‘Year of Reading.’ On the side-lines of the 35th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) and as part of ‘Warsha’ programme, the innovative program by the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, the UAEBBY organised a workshop for a group of authors at Al Noor Island in Sharjah. In April 2016, the ‘Warsha’ programme sponsored a number of Arab illustrators to participate in the 53rd edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) in Italy where they attended the ‘Illustrators Caf?’. It also sponsored a number of Emirati and Arab publishers to participate in the 31st edition of the International Publishers Association (IPA), which took place in London.