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As the most prestigious recognition for excellence in children’s literature in the Arab world, this edition saw 174 authors, 158 illustrators and 93 publishers in the region compete for the coveted award.

The winner of the Etisalat Award’s AED 300,000 ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ is Shahrazizi’s Nights: A Tale Within a Tale Within a Tale, penned by Hadeel Ghonim, illustrated by Sahar Abdullah, and published by Al-Balsam Publishing House, Egypt.

The AED 200,000 ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ category was conferred on ‘The Anemones’ by Haya Saleh, published by Al Yasmine Publishing and Distribution, Jordan.

The Apple by Asma Amara, illustrated by Atifa Abdullah, and published by Dar Al Buragh, Iraq, won the award in the AED 100,000 ‘Silent Book’ category.

Three awards of AED 100,000 each for Best Text, Best Illustration and Best Production were also announced at the virtual ceremony.

The winning book of the ‘Best Text’ category is Words by Jikar Khorshid, illustrated by Maha Daher, and published by Dar Najma, Syria. Aisha Abdullah Al Harithi’s The Monster and I, illustrated by Baraa Al Awour, and published by Dar Ashjar Publishing and Distribution, UAE, won in the ‘Best Illustration’ category while I Will be Fine, co-authored by Dr. Essam Asmir and Lama Azar, illustrated by Hanane Kai, and published by Jabal Amman Publishers, Jordan, was adjudged winner of the ‘Best Production’ category.

The Etisalat Award dedicates AED 300,000 to its Warsha programme to build the capabilities of Arab writers, illustrators and publishers, through a series of creative workshops that are held throughout the year under the supervision of a host of Arab and international experts. These workshops target those writers and illustrators who had submitted entries but were not shortlisted.

Speaking at the virtual event, Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor and General Manager of Etisalat – Northern Emirates, said: “Sponsoring one of the most prominent literary awards in the Arab world reflects our keenness to support all initiatives that spur positive change in society, and impact the present and future of our young generations. Supporting the award underscores our unwavering commitment to identifying and nurturing new literary and creative talent, be it in the field of writing, illustration or design. The Award also aligns with our vision to support and promote an inspiring intellectual and cultural environment to further the development of the UAE across the economic, cultural and social domains.”

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, emphasised that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light a significant reality – that despite the upheavals around the globe, the only constant has been the need for knowledge and creativity. She said that by celebrating talented authors, illustrators and publishers who have helped elevate the standards in content, imagery, and production in Arabic literature, the Etisalat Award is helping build a new generation to better appreciate a literary and visual art form with the creative potential to shape their futures.

Al Aqroubi said: “The Etisalat Award celebrates not only bookmakers, but also future makers. Every achievement we celebrate is yet another step forward towards the enrichment of Arabic children’s books, and each book created for our youngsters is an investment in their future.”

In its 12th edition, the Etisalat Award, the first of its kind in the Arab world, received entries from Egypt, Algeria, the USA, the UK and Morocco, in addition to submissions from Kuwait, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia and Sudan. Submissions also came in for the first time from Finland, Georgia, Canada, Congo, Iran and Spain.

Egypt topped the list of the submitted entries with 59 books, followed by the UAE which ranked second with 43, while Jordan, KSA, and Lebanon took third place with 22 entries each.

This year’s edition chose 171 submissions in six categories with 119 entries in the Children’s Book category, 40 in the Young Adult Book of the Year category, and 12 in the Silent Book category, while 50 entries had to be rejected for not meeting the award’s eligibility criteria.