Sheikh Zayed Book Awards

by | Nov 26, 2020 | Blog

Major book awards in the Arab world

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ibtisam Barakat for the UK Booksellers Conference. Ibtisam is the 2020 winner of the Sheikh Zayed Award for children’s literature for her book, The Lilac Girl. This is a short and beautiful story inspired by the Palestinian artist Tamam Al-Akhal and her exile from Jaffa and her homeland and her dreams of return, a story of exile that is told very simply but works on multiple levels. I hope it finds a UK publisher. (

The Sheikh Zayed Award is the most important award for Arabic literature and has equal prizes for each category of writing, including children’s literature, translation and young writers. (

Recent winners of the award have been translated into English, German, Russian and French via the SZBA Translation Fund.

Speaking of the importance of translation for children he says:

They have so many questions and thoughts about the things around them or about people they meet. It’s our duty as writers to try and fulfill their needs and answers their questions, and maybe open their minds to other fantasies and opportunities in life. Children’s books have so many values that are essential to all the children in the world regardless of their language. Not just values, but also all the fun and joy that a children’s book could bring to kids! We want to spread good values from our Arab world, and we also want to spread good laughter!

This award provides us with a window into books from the Arabic world with the hope that more will become available in Engish.


 Lateefa Butl


 Lateefa Butl

The Dinoraf

Hussain Al Mutawaa 

Ahlam An Akoun Khalat Asmant (I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer)