12th Edition: Arab culture at the appointment with modernity


Following the recommendation of the international jury chaired by Mr. Amadou Mailele, the Director-General Irina Bokova has designated the Arab Image Foundation (Lebanon) and publisher Farouk Mardam-Bey (France) as winners of the 12th edition of the UNESCO- Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture.

The Arab Image Foundation team and Farouk Mardam-Bey. © Kassim Dabaji, Mind the gap & Laurent Denimal

The Arab Image Foundation (IAF) is a non-profit organization that collects, preserves and studies photographs of the Arab world and its diaspora. Founded in 1997, the IAF organizes exhibitions, partnerships and international exchanges. It encourages artists and promotes their work through a vast regional network. The observatory network (MoHo : Modern Heritage Observatory),, which extends from Mashreq to the Maghreb, immortalizesall forms of heritage through photography: architecture, cinema, press, collective memory, etc. IAF is supported by key partners across the world, including the Institut du monde arabe, and regularly hosts shows important works from its archives. Of particular note is the , exhibition Once upon a time the Orient Express (4 April to 31 August 2014) . In consideration of the increasing prominence of visual images, as well as the upheavals in the Arab world today, the work of the IAF makes a unique contribution to the conservation and promotion of the Arab world, and its socio-political and economic andcultural components.

Over the last twenty years, Farouk Mardam-Bey has emerged as a major publisher of Arabic literature translated in France. Throughout his career, he has successfully introduce the public, (French as well as European), to essential classical Arabic literature (pre-Islamic poetry to Khalil Gibran) as well as to the works of the finest contemporary authors such as M. Darwish, AR Mounif , S. Ibrahim , E. Khoury, H. Barakat , H. Selmi , H. El –Sheikh, who bearwitness to the changing Arab world. These translations are renowned for their accuracy and literary quality. Mr Mardam-Bey’s vast experience as a translator, cultural consultant, and director of prestigious libraries (including that of the Institut du monde arabe and the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris), journal editor, in addition to his work as a writer and thinker at the crossroads of cultures, has contributed to promoting intercultural dialogue and harmonious social co-existence.


The Prize was awarded to the two winners by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on 2 May 2014 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. On this occasion, an exhibition of of selections from photographic archives of the Arab Image Foundation, illustrated with excerpts of Arabic literature edited by Farouk Mardam Bey entitled "Sura wa Kalima, Photo-Story Journey through the Arab World" was also inaugurated.

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