Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Tuesday (October 26), honored the Egypt-based Dar El Shorouk for winning the second edition of the Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children's Literature with the book, Al Noqta Al Sawda (The Black Dot), written and illustrated by Walid Taher.
The winning book, which was announced on the opening day of the Sharjah International Book Fair, was chosen from among numerous entries by an eminent jury for its compliance with the award's criteria and conditions, for the quality of its content and high cultural value for Arabic children's literature, as well as for its ability to compete on the global cultural stage.
Speaking on the occasion, H.E Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), said: "We seek to continue the march towards achieving the goals of growth and development of Arabic children's literature while helping to raise it to international levels. We are pleased with this year's noticeable improvement in terms of the award, and we pledge to continue this development in the upcoming editions until children's culture enjoys its worthy status."
She added: "We would like to extend our special appreciation to Etisalat for sponsoring the prize, as well as for its rich contribution and participation in supporting children's books."
Sheikha Bodour referred to Etisalat's leading role in the country's development and prosperity and wished it further success in sponsoring worthy projects that are compatible with its high reputation in the UAE.
Abdul Aziz Taryam, General Manager of Etisalat, Northern Emirates, said: "Etisalat's sponsorship of this great project comes in line with the tremendous efforts exerted by the UAE in boosting the cultural foundations of the society in general, and Emirati children in particular. It is also in keeping with the role of our strategic partners, especially the UAEBBY, represented by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, who has been keen to overcome any obstacles to make the prize truly special."
The prize is worth Dh 1 million, fifty per cent of which will be awarded to the winning publisher. The remaining 50 per cent will be divided between the writer and illustrator, as per the jury's rules. The winner of the first Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children's Literature was Lebanon-based publisher Dar Al Hadaeq for its book Ana Oheb (I Love), written by Nabiha Mheidli and illustrated by Nadeen Sidani.
There were 17 conditions for entry, including that the book should have been published in the Arabic language not more than three years ago, and should not previously have won any local, Arab or international awards. The book should also be original (translated works were not eligible).
The prize is focused on children's books that target children aged 0 to 14, and each publishing house was entitled to submit a maximum of three entries. The publisher is also committed to publishing 2,000 copies of the winning book bearing the logo of the prize for non-profit purposes. The books will be distributed by the UAEBBY.
The UAEBBY recently announced the launch of its website www.uaebby.org.ae , which contains further information about the prize and which enables publishers and authors to communicate effectively with the Organizing Committee of the award while allowing users to apply and register for the prize, as well as view the competition terms and conditions online. The board's e-portal is aimed at promoting the prize as part of a strategy embraced by the Organizing Committee to develop the performance of the award, and to ensure that each new edition improves in terms of content and value.
The aims of the UAEBBY revolve around ways of enhancing communication with bodies and organizations concerned about children's books all over the world, and exchanging expertise and information with them. The UAEBBY also works to develop and encourage literary and art works dedicated to children by exchanging experiences and information between writers and illustrators from all over the world, organizing competitions, symposia and seminars, as well as offering children's books, especially in remote areas.
Its aims also include encouraging children's book publishing and setting up of public libraries for children in all the country's emirates, as well as encouraging the translation of children's books from and to Arabic while helping to improve the quality of children's books in the UAE to reach international levels.