» Elias Khoury (Lebanon) and João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens (Brazil), to receive UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Ara...
21.02.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

Elias Khoury (Lebanon) and João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens (Brazil), to receive UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Elias Khoury, Lebanon, (left)and João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens, Brazil (right), to receive UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture - © Suz/Creative Commons (Left), © DR (right)

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will award the 2011 UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture to Lebanese author Elias Khoury and Brazilian publisher João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens in a ceremony on 27 February. The laureates are being recognized for their work to increase awareness of Arab culture in the world. The ceremony will take place at UNESCO’s Headquarters, Room I, at 6.30 p.m.

Elias Khoury (Beyrouth, 1948) is a novelist, playwright, critic and academic.  He is the author of a dozen novels, notably The Little Mountain, White Masks and Gate of the Sun. His books have been translated into more than ten languages including Hebrew. As editor in chief of the literary supplement of the An Nahar newspaper between 1992 and 2009, he played a pivotal role in the promotion of Arab culture. “He has witnessed and spread internationally the testimony of human suffering. His struggle and literary production created the image of a free intellectual who is giving a voice to the voiceless,” stated the international jury of the Prize, headed by Isabella Camera d’Afflito, of La Sapienza University (Rome).

João Baptista de Medeiros Vargens (Río de Janeiro, 1952) is a publisher, writer, translator, lexicographer and professor of Arab language and culture.  He is being rewarded “for his engagement in the study of the influence of the Arab language on Portuguese, and for his work shedding light on Arab Islamic culture on Brazil and in the Portuguese world in general,” according to the Jury.
Journalists will be able to meet the laureates at 2.30 p.m. in Room V.
The UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture was established at the initiative of the United Arab Emirates to reward the efforts of a national of an Arab country and a national of any other country who has contributed, through his or her artistic, intellectual or promotional work, towards the development and dissemination of Arab culture in the world. Each laureate receives US$ 30,000.

The 10th anniversary of the Prize will be celebrated this year with a thematic debate about Art and culture, instruments of Peace, (3.30 p.m., Room IV). The programme includes two roundtable debates, one about perspectives on new forms of artistic expression by young Arabs and the other on Arab heritage and cultural Diversity. This year’s laureates are expected to take part in the debates alongside former laureates (Bensalem Himmish, Abdelwahab Boudhiba, Cherif Khaznadar, Jamal Al-Shalabi, Yordan Peev and Anna Parzymies) and members of the internation Prize jury (Isabella Camera d’Afflito, Mohamed Berrada, Stephen Hemphreys).
Finally, the ceremony will feature a concert of classical Arab music by Lena Chamamyan (7.15 p.m.), who is the Syrian-Armenian laureate of the 2006 Radio Monte-Carlo Moyen Orient music prize.
                                  More information on the prize

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