AED1 mn Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature launched

Sharjah, 22nd May 2009 (WAM) In a move to preserve Arab children’s culture during a time of globalization and digital cultural revolution, the Arab Children’s Book Publishers Forum has announced the launch of the Etisalat Prize for the most distinguished Arabic children’s literature.

With one million dirhams in prize money, this award will become the most recognized award in its category, and the 2009 winner is expected to be announced at the Sharjah World Book Fair, scheduled for November this year.

The award highlights the importance of collaboration between governmental bodies focusing on Arab children, and educational and cultural institutions, and their significant contribution to the project for developing Arab children’s culture and promoting children’s literature. This project was launched in response to the challenges associated with the ongoing regional social transformation and digital technology-driven diverse and complicated educational resources.

The award recognizes the importance of book-based knowledge for children and the role it plays in stimulating the imagination, intellect and creativity of a child, building character and promoting human values. Children’s literature is the most significant tool available for preserving national identity, tradition, culture and heritage, and is the ultimate resource to bridge the gap between different cultures and civilizations.

Commenting on the occasion, H.E. Sheikha Bodour Al Qassimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Publishing, and honorary member of the Arab Children’s Book Publishers Forum, emphasized the role of institutions in growing children’s culture, and its role in promoting Arab culture, saying: “If the need for Arab cultural development is urgent, the need for developing the Arab children’s culture is more urgent, as building the child is the cornerstone for future growth.

“Etisalat has decided to play an effective role in human development in the UAE community through extending support and sponsorship to different organizations. This can then be made a real part of social and cultural reform programmes that aim to improve human skills and experiences, develop productivity, stimulate creativity, and help talented individuals achieve their full potential,” he added.

In addition to sponsoring the Children’s Book Award, Etisalat has covered the costs of the Arab Children Book Publishers Forum’s participation at Book Expo America (BEA) 2009, where a 225-book space pavilion has been designated for use by the Forum, while a catalogue that contains the names of member publishers and an introduction of each member publishing house was printed by the Forum.

A symposium with discussion opportunity will be conducted on publishing children books, with the list of speakers including H.E. Sheikha Bodour Al Qassimi, Dr. Amira Abu Al Majid and Dr. Najlaa Bashour. The symposium is planned to tackle challenges and copyright processes facing the publishing industry.

Exhibition space has also been designated for five Arab illustrators, and invitations to participate were sent out to five Arab Forum member publishers, while plans are in place to organize field visits for USA-based HarperCollins Publishers and Scholastic, and to study their experience in the publishing industry. Visits to two children’s bookshops, Bank Street Bookstore and Books of Wonder, where reading sessions will be organized for Arab children, are also scheduled.

At the end of the Expo, the Forum, in coordination with the Expo management, will donate the books in the exhibition to one of the centers that are visited by the Arab communities.