Organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by Etisalat Group, the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature has become one of the most important and prestigious awards in the Arab world today. Through its ongoing efforts to promote the principles of excellence and innovation, as well as to create a working environment that encourages positive competition to develop Arabic children’s books, the Award has encouraged, motivated, supported and honoured the region’s publishing industry in an unprecedented way.
Launched in 2009, the Award’s rationale that books are the most important pillars of human intellectual progress has been the basis for its foundation and development over the years. The Award has worked committedly to enable Arabic children’s literature in the region to mirror international standards, and has provided major impetus in the creation of unique and outstanding children’s and young adults’ titles.
The Award has been guaranteed incremental annual participation every year over the past eight years, and has attracted 651 entries between 2010 and 2016. Its eight editions have recognised 44 awardees with prizes cumulatively worth AED 8 million (including 14 authors, 9 illustrators and 9 publishers), some of whom have received multiple awards.
The Award has grown and flourished over the years. Until 2012, it recognised talent in one category, which was extended to five in 2013, featuring Best Text, Best Illustration, Best Production, Children’s Book of the Year and Young Adult Book of the Year. A new category called Digital Book App of the Year, has been created this year, which brings the number up to six.
With 151 entries from 53 publishing houses in 13 countries worldwide, the 2016 edition witnessed the highest rate of participation. The ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ category received 87 entries and the ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ received 64 entries.
The Etisalat Group won the UAE Pioneers Award as the ‘Best Private Sector Initiative to Encourage Reading among Children’, by sponsoring the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature. The honour was bestowed by Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who recognised 45 UAE Pioneers entities and individuals for furthering the nationwide mission of the ‘UAE Year of Reading’ in 2016.
In a bid to encourage the largest number of talented application developers for children and young adults, the ninth edition has introduced a new AED 100,000 award category called ‘Digital Book App of the Year’, which will be shared equally by the publisher and the application developer. An additional AED 100,000 will be dedicated in 2017 to the ‘Warsha Programme’ that will be used to organise workshops to build Arabic people’s capacities in children’s literature writing and illustration, and to provide publishers with opportunities to participate in important workshops and conferences worldwide.
As a result of the aforementioned additions, the net value of the Award has risen from AED 1 million to AED 1.2 million.
The five other categories of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature include: ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ worth AED 300,000; ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ worth AED 200,000; and ‘Best Text’, ‘Best Illustration’ and ‘Best Production’ worth AED 100,000 each.