Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture Laureates
· Elias Khoury (Lebanon). He was born in Beirut in 1948. He is a novelist, playwright and academic critic, and is considered one of today’s leading Arab intellectuals. Author of 11 novels translated into more than 13 languages, including Hebrew, his literary works draw on history and deal with basic questions of human existence. In his novels, literary and dialectal Arabic intertwine to deliver a testimony of the pride and injuries of the countries of the Arab world. His most celebrated novels are Gate of the Sun (1998), Yalo (2002) and As Though She Were Sleeping (2007).
· João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens (Brazil). He is a publisher, author, translator, lexicologist and professor of Arabic language and civilization. Primarily interested in the influence of Arabic on Portuguese, J. B. de Medeiros has devoted himself to highlighting the presence of the Arab-Muslim civilization in Brazil and in Portuguese-speaking countries at large.
· Ali Mahdi Nouri (Sudan), actor and stage director. He founded in 2004 the theatre company Al bugaa, which travels to conflict zones of Sudan and puts up plays that are enacted by child soldiers or orphans of wars. His uses various techniques of narration such as folklore and pantomime that find their inspiration in the cultural heritage of Sudan. The International Jury found that he had understood how to use the Arabic language and culture (songs and specially tales) as a point of resilience, from which, young actors could find ways to reconstruct themselves. The active role played by Ali Mahdi Nouri in the International Institute of Theatre has brought him world renown.
· Chérif Khaznadar (France). He is a stage director, writer and poet whose invaluable contribution to promoting dialogue, in particular between Arab culture and other cultures, for nearly 50 years has been internationally acknowledged. Named the “culture smuggler”, he set out to promote Arab theatre then music, building a full-fledged cultural bridge between Arab countries and France, in particular. As President of the Maison des cultures du monde, he gave Arab cultural events pride of place. His commitment to boost exchanges led to the creation, some 15 years ago, of the Festival de l’imaginaire, an interdisciplinary cultural event entirely dedicated to intercultural dialogue.
· Ghani Alani (Iraq) is a poet and calligrapher. Heir of the Baghdad calligraphy school, he is one of the greatest contemporary calligraphers and an internationally acclaimed artist whose works were exhibited in every major capital city around the world. Through his work, Ghani Alani perpetuates the tradition of Arab-Muslim art of calligraphy which represents the highest expression of knowledge in the Arab culture, the art that brings together its various facets. This prize is awarded to Ghani Alani for making the Western world aware of calligraphy, one of the richest forms of art in the Arab culture.
· Anna Parzymies (Poland. Professor of Arabic linguistics at the Department of Arab and Islamic Studies, in 1998 she set up the Department of Islam in Europe at the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Warsaw – one of the leading academic institutions in Western Europe dedicated to the religious and cultural life and legal situation of the Arab-Muslim population of the region. As director of a publishing house dedicated to Arab culture, Anna Parzymies has undertaken the publication of more than 80 books.
· Dr Gaber Asfour (Egypt). Academician and professor at several Arab, European and American universities. Also literary critic and former Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Culture, he is currently Director of the National Centre for Translation in Cairo. Dr Asfour has played an immense role in expanding the influence of Arab culture. Through his various professional contacts, he has succeeded in creating links and building bridges among specialists in Arab culture, both in the Arab world and beyond. The achievements of this open-minded intellectual have significantly increased the knowledge and visibility of Arab culture. Dr. Asfour’s highly original literary criticism, has gained worldwide recognition. As a prominent advocate of cultural dialogue, he has promoted values such as the advancement of women, respect for others, creative diversity and tolerance. A prolific writer and researcher, Dr Asfour has published numerous works, notably on the Enlightenment, women, and Arab literature and traditions. He has been actively involved in the translation of books into Arabic, and routinely writes columns for leading Arab newspapers.
· Dr José Adalberto Coelho Alves (Portugal). Writer, poet, legal specialist and Portuguese Orientalist, he is currently President of the Centre for Arab and Portuguese Studies at Silves. He chaired the committee responsible for the creation of the Foundation for Arab Memory, served as Vice-President of the Luso-Arab Institute for Cooperation, and was a member of the Administrative Council of the Portuguese Foundation of Arab and Islamic Heritage. Throughout his career, he has built bridges of friendship between the Arab world, the West and particularly Portugal. In his capacity as a specialist of Arab culture and writer, Mr Coelho Alves has inspired many Portuguese and Spanish authors in diverse fields including film, television, all performing arts, novel-writing and poetry. He has also made major contributions to the understanding of Arab culture in the Iberian Peninsula.
Dr Coelho Alves is the author of many publications on Arab culture in Portuguese, as well as in other languages. He is actively dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge about Arab history and culture during the Muslim occupation of Portugal (Al-Gharb el Andalus). His work in the area of translation has been recognized by the Portuguese Language Society, which awarded him the Arab translation prize.
· Aladine Lolah (Syria) is a professor at Aleppo University and an architect. Through his work at the university, he has helped to spread knowledge about the history of science in Arab countries. Director of the Institute for the History of Arabic Science at Aleppo University, he is also a member of the Conseil de Perfectionnement of the Institut français du Proche Orient (IFPO), thus contributing to dialogue between civilizations and mutual understanding.
· Shah Abdus Salam (India) is a professor at the University of New Delhi where he directs research on literature and Arab culture. His numerous publications are centered on the topics of Islamic culture and inter-faith dialogue. His work is already well-known in India, the United States, Canada, England, France and Saudi Arabia.
· Jamal Al- Shalabi (Jordan). He holds a PhD in Political Science from the Faculty of Law at the Panthéon-Assas University (Paris II), France 1995, as well as Professor in comparative political analysis from the University of Bordeaux. Professor at the Hashemite University in Jordan he is recognized for his longstanding commitment to intercultural dialogue. In his numerous books and articles, he has explored and compared the evolution of the politics of Arab and European countries. In this respect, his book entitled Mohamed H. Haikal between the socialist politics of Nasser and the Infitah politics of Sadat, 1952-1981, along with his book on the shared vision of Europeans and Arabs, constitute the major points of reference in the evolution of his political philosophy. In addition Professor Al-Shalabi stressed the importance of women’s rights by highlighting the example of his native country, Jordan. In the framework of his academic and intellectual activities, he organized several meetings on issues concerning the relationship between Arabs and Europeans, as well as between Muslims and Christians. Through his body of work, Professor Al-Shalabi has reinforced hopes for peaceful relations between the Arab world and Europe.
· Yordan Peev (Bulgaria). Professor at University of Sofia, he is emeritus Bulgarian scientific and is recognized for his important contribution to promoting and dissemination of Arab-Muslim civilisation in Bulgaria and worldwide. He is known for his publications on Arab Culture. Professor Peev has devoted his life to achieving a better understanding of the contemporary Muslim world, through his teachings and lectures, not only in Bulgaria, and other European countries but in many Arab countries. He has contributed to increasing our understanding of Arab thought and culture in today’s world. He undertook a comparative analysis of different religion systems and the relationships between Muslims and Christians. By studying Bulgarian Muslim and the teachings in particular of Ibn Khaldoun he judiciously examined the major problems of our century regarding intercultural communications.
· Tahar Ouettar (Algeria) is journalist and writer. He is one of the leading figures of Arabic-language letters in Algeria. He has published novels such as The Ace, The Donkey’s Wedding, The Candle and Dark Tunnels. As a journalist, Mr Ouettar took part in the creation of two magazines Al-Jamahir and Al Ahar. He edits the cultural supplement of the daily Al-Chaab and, since 1989, has been the president of the cultural association Aljahidhiya. Tahar Quettar died in 2010.
· Michel Lagarde (France). He belongs to the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), and teaches in Rome at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI). He has been a life-long student of the Arabic language and Islam. He has translated into French the Kitab al-Mawaqif (Livre des Haltes) by Abd Al Qadir al-Djazairi, one of the leading figures of Sufism in the 19th century. Mr Lagarde also translated the Great Commentary of Fahr al-Dîn al-Râzî.
· Abdelwahab Bouhdiba (Tunisia), sociology professor at the University of Tunis who holds degrees in philosophy and literature, was born in 1932 in the Tunisian city of Kairouan. Since 1995, he has presided over the "Beït AI Hikma" Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Literature and Arts in Carthage. His best-known work is La Sexualité en Islam (Sexuality in Islam), which has been translated in English, Arabic, Bosnian, Spanish and Japanese, and will soon be available in Portuguese.
· Juan Vernet Ginés (Spain). Born in 1923 in Barcelona, Juan Vernet Ginés is a renowned specialist in Arab science and the evolution of science – especially astronomy and map-making – during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Among his nearly 40 books and more than 300 articles are: Literatura árabe (1966) ; Astrología y astronomía en el Renacimiento : la revolución copernicana (1974) ; Historia de la ciencia española (1976) ; La Cultura hispano árabe en Oriente y Occidente (1978) ; Mahoma (1987) and his versions of the Koran and 1001 Arabian Nights. Juan Vernet Ginés died in 2011.
Bensalem Hemmich (Morocco). Former Minister of Culture, philosopher, novelist and scriptwriter, he is the author of numerous books (in Arabic and French). Five of his novels have been translated into several languages. His bilingual work has made a powerful contribution to the dissemination and influence of contemporary Arab literature.
· Esad Durakovic (Bosnia Herzegovina)
· Abdulaziz el Makalah (Yemen). Professor of Arab literature, he is one of the Arab world’s leading poets and is deeply committed to promoting and developing Yemen’s culture.
· Professor Na Zhong (China). Born in 1910 into a Muslim family of the Hui community in Yunnan Province. He worked for over 60 years to promote a better understanding of Arab culture in China and was the first to teach Arabic in a Chinese University (Central University, now Nanjing University). Professor Na is the author of over 20 books on Islamic history and religion.
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