The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and Abdualla Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information of the Emirate of Sharjah, on Thursday presented the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture 2015 to Palestinian author Elias Sanbar and the Islamic Library of Spain’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), in a ceremony held at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris.
Madhed Hareb Al Khaili, UAE Ambassador to France, Abdullah Ali Masbeh, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), VIPs, diplomats and a crowd of intellectual and cultural personalities attended the award-giving ceremony.
An international jury of experts chose the laureates of 13th edition for their commitment to the dissemination of Arab culture around the world.
Al Owais conveyed the congratulations of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to the winners.
Elias Sanbar (Haifa, 1947) is one of the most distinguished Arab intellectuals today, whose activities encompass literature, law, history, translation, journalism and diplomacy. Over four decades, he has brought a significant contribution to an improved understanding of Arab culture. In 1981, he co-founded one of the most respected publications about Palestine anywhere, La Revue d’?tudes palestiniennes, of which he was the editor-in-chief for 25 years. His translations into French of the work of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish is a major contribution to the dissemination of Arab culture. He also co-authored Le rescap? et l’exil? (The Survivor and the Exiled) with Holocaust survivor St?phane Hessel, a book that has had considerable international impact. Since 2012, Elias Sanbar has also been Palestine’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.
The Biblioteca Isl?mica, the Islamic Library of Spain’s Agency for International Cooperation and Development, has become an essential international reference in the field of Arabic and Andalusian studies due to the wealth of its collections and the services it provides. Based in Madrid since its founding in 1954, the library has a collection of 100,000 volumes. Notable publications to be found among its prized possessions include the Lexicon arabicum by Franciscus Raphelengius (1613), Thesaurus linguarum Orientalium Turcicae-Arabicae-Persicae by Franciszek Mesgnien Meni?ski, published from 1680 to 1687, and Gram?tica ar?bigo-espa?ola by Francisco Ca?es, published in Madrid in 1775.
The Islamic Library collaborates actively with university departments offering courses of Arabic and Islamic culture. It takes part in international conferences organized by the European Association of Middle East Libraries (MELCOM) and promotes intercultural dialogue by entering into partnerships with scientific and educational associations in the Arab world. The Library also brings its support to other Arab libraries through training and exchanges.
Created in 1998 at the initiative of the United Arab Emirates, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards the efforts of two personalities or organisations, one from an Arab country and one from any other country, who have made a significant contribution to the development, dissemination and promotion of Arab culture in the world. The prize carries a monetary value of $60,000, equally divided between the two laureates.
Established in 1998, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards, each year, two laureates – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavour to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture.