(MENAFN Press) His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, honoured Lebanon-based Dar Al Hadaek for its book "Creatures on the Ceiling"' written by Nabiha Mheidly and illustrated by Hassan Zahreddine, the winner of the 4th edition of the AED1 million Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature.
The award ceremony was attended by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), H.E Mohammed Hassan Omran, Etisalat Board Chairman, and H.E Abdul Aziz Taryam, General Manager of Etisalat, Northern Emirates, as well as a large group of elite lettermen, intellectuals and journalists, during the opening ceremony of the 31st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair. This year, 58 titles from nine countries competed for the Award.
The wining book 'Creatures on the Ceiling' forms a valuable new addition to the Arabic children's library in the 7 and 9 year segment. With its beautiful illustrations and simple language, the story takes a journey through the eyes of a child, encouraging children to explore the fascinating world of imagination. The book tells the story of Karim, an 8-year-old boy who lives with his poor family in a modest house. For Karim, who is endowed with a keen sense of imagination, his bedtime becomes a time of joy and wonder as he explores the magical world of his room's ceiling.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of UAEBBY, congratulated the publishing house, writer and illustrator on winning the award, which aims to encourage publishers, authors and illustrators to contribute significantly to promoting the children's book industry and enriching the Arabic library with creative literary works for children.
She also profoundly thanked the judging panel for the time and constructive efforts they exerted to select the most creative literary works. Sheikha Bodour praised the diverse participation of creative authors and illustrators interested in Arabic children's literature, and reaffirmed the UAEBBY's determination to push ahead with the Award dedicated to celebrating the names of those who have helped to enrich the cultural scene of Arab children across all fields.
"The Etisalat Award for Children's Literature has become an important annual milestone for all those interested in Arabic children's literature from all over the world. The consistently high quality of the works submitted for each edition of the Award also continues to prove year after year how rich the Arab world is in creative talents of writers and illustrators in the field of children's literature," Sheikha Bodour said.
She underlined the importance of encouragement and appreciation for any form of creative work as well as in instilling a spirit of healthy competition so as to generate imaginative outputs.
Sheikha Bodour referred to children as the real national wealth of any nation as they are the makers of civilization, leaders of the renaissance and the vehicles of change and progress. She called for the empowerment of children through science, culture, and education and stressing that it is imperative that they must be provided with every necessary means to help them be creative and excel, thus paving their way towards a better future.
She highlighted the robust success of the award which has been drawing an elite group of renowned intellectuals and literary figures as well as those interested in children's literature not only from the Arab world but also from across the globe.
Sheikha Bodour praised Etisalat for its ongoing support of the Award, which is manifested in its eagerness to sponsor the award for the fourth consecutive year-a fact that clearly demonstrates its strong commitment to its social responsibility and role in the process of development and prosperity in the country. She expressed the hope that Etisalat would achieve further success in supporting humanitarian initiatives compatible with its reputation in the UAE.
H.E Abdul Aziz Taryam, General Manager of Etisalat, Northern Emirates, said, "Through our annual sponsorship of the award, we are actively participating in promoting Arabic children's literature with the aim to help in shape the future of the nation's children by providing them with literary works that will inspire them to reach for the sky and ensure a better future based on knowledge."
"We believe in honouring creative talents as we realise the important role they play in the lives of our children," Taryam added. He stressed that honouring excellent literary works is a celebration of culture and creativity in appreciation of the outstanding efforts of creative individuals in the development of the literary movement, and serves as an incentive to encourage creative people in all walks of life to pursue their creativity.
The five books that compete for the award include two Lebanese titles, two Egyptian titles and one from Jordan.
The nominees, in Arabic alphabetical order, were: 'My Grandma Will Always Remember Me', written by Samar Mahfouz Barraj and illustrated by Maya Fiddawi and published by Yuki Press (Lebanon); 'Grandma Nafeesa', written by Taghreed Al Najjar and illustrated by Maya Fiddawi and published by Dar Al Salwa (Jordan); 'Seven Lives', written and illustrated by Walid Taher and published by Dar Al Shorouk (Egypt); 'Creatures on the Ceiling' published by Dar Al Hadaek (Lebanon), written by Nabiha Mheidly and illustrated by Hussam Zahr Eldeen; and 'Strong Wind Blow', published by Dar Al Shorouk (Egypt), written by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Walid Taher.
The Award, the most prestigious award in Arabic children's literature, was given in 2011 to the book 'Teeri Ya Tayara' (Fly Away Kite), published by Egypt-based Nahdet Misr, written by Amani Al Ashmawi, and illustrated by Hanadi Sileet.
In 2010, the winning book was 'Al Noqta Al Sawda' (The Black Dot) written and illustrated by Walid Taher and published by Egyptian Dar Al Shorouk
The first Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature was won in 2009 by Lebanese publisher Dar Al Hadaek for its book 'Ana Oheb' (I Love), written by Nabiha Mheidly and illustrated by Nadeen Saidani.
On this occasion, Nabiha Mheidly “ who won the award for the second time- extended her thanks and appreciation to the Award's organizers and participants. She said everyone has won and that all the works participating could also be considered winners since the biggest winner was Arabic Children's literature.
She commented, "Honouring the winner and celebration of his achievement opens up new horizons for a constructive dialogue to understand each other “ which will eventually lead to the creation of more creative works." She concluded in calling all creative people to participate in the upcoming editions of the prestigious award.
The Award is open to Arab and international publishing houses and books and entrants must meet 17 specific terms and conditions to be eligible for the Award.
These include, among others, that the book must be written in Arabic; must have been published within the past three years; and that it should not be a recipient of a previous local, regional or international award. In addition the book must be an original work; translated or reproduced works are excluded.
Participation is open to all Arab and international publishing houses dedicated to producing Arabic literature for children aged 0 to 14 years, and each publishing house may enter a maximum of three titles.