Award-winning Emirati novelist urges budding creatives to work hard at their art

Abu Dhabi: Young Emiratis should work hard to develop their creative abilities and be confident that this endeavor will help them excel in the culture sector, said Maisoon Saqer, an award-winning Emirati poet and writer.

Speaking to Gulf News after receiving his Sheikh Zayed Book Prize for Literature, Saqer dedicated his award to every creative Emirati artist.

“I have been recognized for my literary production in this prestigious award, which is one of the best categories. This honor is not mine alone. I dedicate it to every Emirati creation,” Saqer said.

Other recognitions

Poet and published author, Saqer has already been nominated for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for two other earlier novels, “Raihana” in 2003 and “A Pearl in My Mouth” in 2006. She won the award in the same category this year for his place-based narrative novel, Café Riche: Eye on Egypt (Maq’ha Reesh, Ain Ala Massr).

The book explores cultural and social transformations in modern Egyptian history and highlights prominent intellectuals and creators associated with coffee. Saqer’s insight has been called particularly resonant, and much of it comes from her time as an undergraduate in Cairo.

Saqer was the only winner of the Emirati Sheikh Zayed Book Prize this year, which marked the prize’s 16th year.

Tips for creatives

Discussing what can help Emiratis excel in arts and literature, Saqer recommended creative aspirants to hone their skills with focus and effort.

“I urge them to keep hope alive and work towards their goals with a sense of conviction. It’s not easy to be a writer or an artist without years of dedicated effort and perseverance,” she said.


Saqer was one of nine winners who were honored in the capital this week as part of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony.

The prize and its associated honors are awarded annually to outstanding writers, intellectuals and publishers, as well as to young talents whose writing and translation in the humanities objectively enrich Arab intellectual, cultural, literary and social life.

The winners of the 16th edition, initially announced on May 9, received their prizes at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Tuesday from the hands of Sheikh Seif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the United Arab Emirates.

Other winners

Syrian writer Maria Daadoush won the Children’s Literature category for her novel “The Mystery of the Glass Ball” (Loghz al Kora al Zujajiya). Dr. Mohamed Al-Maztouri from Tunisia won the prize in the Young Author category with his book “Bedouinism in ancient Arabic poetry” (Al Badawa fi al She’er al Arabi al Qadeem), published by the Faculty of Letters, of Arts and Human Sciences of Manouba University and the GLD Foundation in 2021.

The translation category saw Dr Ahmed Aladawi from Egypt win the prize for his work in translating George Maqdisi’s book “The Rise of Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West” (Nash’at al Insaniyat Einda al Muslimeen wa fi al Gharb al Maseehi) from English to Arabic.

Meanwhile, Moroccan author Mohamed Aldahi’s book, “The Narrator and Soul Mate: From Game to Simulation” (Al Sarid wa Taw’am al Rooh: Min al Tamtheel ila al Istinaa’), published by The Center Culturel du Livre in 2021 won in the Art and Literary Critic category.

In the Arabic Culture in Other Languages ​​category, Iraqi-American Dr. Muhsin J. Al-Musawi won the prize for his book “The Thousand and One Nights in Contemporary Global Cultures: Global Commodification, Translation, and the Cultural Industry “, while the prize for publishing and technology went to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

Saudi thinker Dr. Abdullah Al Ghathami was finally recognized as Cultural Personality of the Year for his contributions to cultural movements in the Arab world. He

The Cultural Personality of the Year award was presented to Dr. Abdullah Al-Ghathami in recognition of his notable contributions to cultural movements in the region and the Arab world. He received a gold medal, a certificate and a prize of one million dirhams.

All the other winners received gold medals, certificates and prizes of 750,000 Dh each.

A number of winners, including Saqer, discuss their learnings and experiences at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center until May 29.

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