Literary awards

There are a number of literary awards in the Arab world as well as awards given to works translated from Arabic into other languages. Of these prizes, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), often known as the “Arabic Booker” is the most prestigious.

Prix Abdelwaheb Ben Ayed de Littérature, also known as the Faba de Littérature (Tunisia)

Created in 2021, there is a double prize for a novel written in Arabic, and one in French, worth 20,000 dinars (€6,200) each, a prize for non-fiction in either Arabic or French worth 20,000 dinars (€6,200), a prize for an art book in Arabic or French worth 20,000 dinars (€6,200), a prize for an illustrated children’s book with a prize worth 10,000 dinars (€3,100), and a prize for a debut novel worth 5,000 dinars ((€1,550).   

Al Mutaqa Prize for the Arabic short story

This prestigious Kuwait-based prize for an Arabic short story was created in order to encourage short story writing in the region. Winners take away $20,000 (€18,750) while shortlisted authors receive $5000 (€4,700) each.

Arab Literature Prize/Jean-Luc Lagardère Fondation and the Arab World Institute (France)

Created in 2013 by the Jean-Luc Lagardère Fondation and the Arab World Institute, the Arab Literature Prize is awarded to a writer from an Arab League member state, who has published a work—a novel or a collection of short stories or poems—written in French or translated from Arabic to French, based on the theme of Arab youth. The Prize is worth 10,000 euros.

Arablit Story Prize (US/Morocco)

Created in 2018, the ArabLit Story Prize is an award for the best short stories, in any genre, newly translated from Arabic into English. Translators must have secured rights to the work, and translations must have been previously unpublished. The prize is worth $500 (€508).

The COMAR d’Or (Tunisia)

Founded in 1997 the Comar d’Or is a double literary prize awarded to a Tunisian book written in in Arabic and a book written in French. There are three other double prizes awarded—the special jury prize, and the discovery prize, for a first novel. The jury is comprised of academics, journalists, and former Comar d’Or winners with a purse of 10,000 dinars (€3,100) for each Comar d’Or winner, 5,000 dinars (€1,550) for each special jury prize winner, and 2,500 dinars(€775) for each discovery prize winner.

Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature (UAE)

Founded in 2009, the Etisalat award is considered one of the most important literary prizes for children’s and YA literature in the Arab region. It awards AED 1.2 million (€336,000), distributed across 6 different categories, including digital book apps. The distribution of the purse can be seen here. It is organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), the local branch of the International Board on Books for Young People founded in Switzerland in 1953. The winners of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Books are announced during the Sharjah International Book Fair in November.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (UAE)

The IPAF is considered the most prestigious literary prize in the Arab world. Launched in 2007 it is often referred to as the “Arab Booker” as it was originally modelled on the Booker Prizes. Each year IPAF’s Board of Trustees selects a new panel of five judges. The judges may be literary critics, writers, and academics from the Arab world and beyond. To underline the international dimension of the Prize, one judge is always a non-Arab, who is not necessarily a fluent speaker and sophisticated reader of Arabic. The winner announcement takes place at a gala ceremony in Abu Dhabi in the spring. The shortlisted authors each receive €10,000. The winning author goes on to receive a further €50,000, with a commitment that IPAF will meet the cost of translation of the winning novel into English to help underwrite its publication for an English-speaking readership. In 2009, the IPAF launched a writers’ workshop for aspiring writers from across the Arab world called Nadwa.

Kanz Al Jeel Award was launched by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) to honour Nabati poetry pieces, folklore studies, and research by scholars and creators whose works represent the heritage of Nabati poetry. There are six categories in the programme including one for translation. The total purse for the prizes is around €380,000.

Katara Prize for Arabic Novel

An Arabic Literature Prize established in Qatar in 2014 with a total prize pool of €610,000 and the main prize of €188,000. The prize is split into two major categories; published and unpublished novels with awards for a novel, short stories and poetry. The winning novels are translated into five languages, including English and French, but it is unclear how the translators are chosen, and whether or not the books are distributed outside Qatar.

Mahmoud Darwish Award for Creativity, managed by the Mahmoud Darwish Foundation is awarded to artists and writers from Palestine and elsewhere.

The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature (Egypt)

is open to contemporary novels, written and published in Arabic anywhere in the world, with a copyright date of 2020 or 2021, which have not yet been translated and published in English. The prize consists of a silver medal, a cash prize of €5,000, and publication worldwide in English translation by the American University in Cairo Press (AUC Press). The prize was founded in 1996 and is awarded each December 11, on Naguib Mahfouz’s birthday. “The announcement of this award honouring writers and literature is the most pleasurable event on my birthday. I hope that this prize will also help to discover new talents in Arabic literature and introduce them to readers around the world,” Mahfouz said about the prize. It is administered by the American University in Cairo.

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation (UK)

This annual award of €3,430, is for the translator(s) of a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of literary merit published after, or during, the year 1967 and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award. The prize is administered by the Society of Authors in the United Kingdom and is usually awarded in October.

Sawiris Cultural Award

Established in 2005, the Sawiris Foundation is based in Egypt and awards prizes in the categories of novels, collections of short stories, screenplays, play-writing, non-fiction. In 2020 the Sawiris Foundation launched a translation award to promote contemporary literary excellence and introduce young creative writers to readers outside the borders of the Arab region. In addition to the literary award’s cash prize, the first-place winning novel for emerging writers will be translated to English language. Awards range between €2,000 and €4,000.

Sharjah Arab Creativity Award

Prizes for short stories, poetry, novels, theatre scripts, children’s literature, and literary criticism are awarded to authors from the Arab world under 40, for a value of up to $6,000 (€5,600).

Sekka Literary Prize (UK)

Created in 2021, the prize aims to introduce international readers to works from the wider Arab world.  Submissions are in English or translated to English and can be in three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Each prize is worth €507.

The Sharjah Arab Creativity Award for short stories, poetry, novels, theatre scripts, children’s literature, and literary criticism are awarded to authors from the Arab world under 40, for a value of up to $6,000 (€5,600).

Sheikh Zayed Book Award (UAE)

There are nine Sheikh Zayed Book Awards of which eight concern books and publishing in the following categories: Literature, Children’s Literature, Young Author, Translation, Art and Literary Criticism, Arab Culture in Other Languages, Publishing and Technology, and Cultural Personality of the Year. The Award, administered by Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, is one of the most generous in the publishing world, worth a total of €1.9 million. Each of the eight book categories receive €208,21 except the Cultural Personality of the Year, which receives €277,61. Every year a group of regional and international literary figures are appointed as judges who serve on nine separate selection committees, one for each award category, with three to five judges per category. The winners are announced just before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair which is held in the spring.

Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award

The Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award is granted every two years to a number of outstanding Arab innovators and intellectuals in recognition of their significant contributions in the fields of poetry; short story, novel and drama; literary studies and criticism; and humanities and future studies. The award offers a purse prize of €113,000.00 to the winner of each of its categories.

Tayeb Salih International Award for Creative Writing

The Sudanese Mobile Telephone Company (Zain) launched the Al-Tayeb Salih International Award for Creativite writing in February 2010 in the memory of the late writer Al-Tayeb Salih. The Award includes all novelists and writers from all over the world

UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Established in 1998, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards, each year, two laureates – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavour to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture. Laureates are awarded the Prize (with an amount of €56,400, divided equally), in recognition of their contribution – in their respective disciplines – to Arab art and culture, or for participating in the dissemination of the latter outside the Arab world. Together, the prize winners have come to represent a new generation of researchers, artists, philosophers, authors and translators with a profound desire to achieve a genuine dialogue between Arab culture and other cultures.