10th ceremony of the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab culture

At the 10th ceremony of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab culture, on February 27, 2012, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Lebanese writer and intellectual Elias Khoury and the Brazilian translator and lexicology specialist, João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens were awarded the Prize.

For the 10e anniversary of the prize, two round tables, on the theme of current affairs that is of great concern to both men and women of culture, were organized on the sideline of the ceremony bringing together new and past winners, as well as a few members of the international Jury. Arts and culture, instruments of Peace was the common theme of the two round tables entitled successively Focus on the new forms of artistic expression in the Arab world and Arab heritage & cultural diversity. Two issues that gave rise to discussions and debates based on the experiences of each participant, in their chosen field, and finally resulted in one and the same conclusion, expressed through several voices, in several languages. Witness of an Arab world in deep turmoil, where young people take ownership of new tools of expression – thus snatching the right to control their own destiny-, coming from different walks of life, the keynote speakers raised the need to build a world culture, beyond all borders.

The two round tables was followed by the award ceremony which was inaugurated by Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, in the presence of Mr. Abdullah M. Al-Owais, Director-general of the Department of Culture and Information of the Government of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates), and H.E. Mr. Abdullah Alneaimi, Permanent Delegate of the United Arab Emirates to UNESCO, and Mrs. Isabella Camera of Afflitto, President of the international Jury. The generosity of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad al-Qassimi, Member of Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah, on whose initiative this award has existed for over ten years was mentioned. A decade has seen a succession of intellectuals from different corner of the world and all walks of life, with their love for Arab culture as a legacy and testament to time.

Receiving his award from the hands of Mrs. Irina Bokova and Mr. Abdullah M. Al Owais, Elias Khoury did not fail to associate this consecration to the cry of freedom that is shaking the Arab world, as "culture is the child of freedom."

João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens, for his part, spoke of the mixing of cultures from Brazil to Syria, which had strengthened his passion for the Arabic language and eventually rebranded as "Abu Tarak".

The evening ended with the magic of Arab songs sung in Syrian-Armenian, by Lena Chamamyan, first prize winner in 2006 of music on Middle East Radio Monte-Carlo.


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