Abu Dhabi, UAE: The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has announced the members of the higher committee of its new Golden Narrative (Sard Al Thahab) Award, launched in December 2022 to honour notable works by local and international creative minds in the genre of Arab prose.

The Golden Narrative (Sard Al Thahab) Award aims to shed light on Emirati folk tales and narratives, highlight inspiring works in this field, and celebrate the talented narrators who, through this art form, have helped to preserve the UAE’s history, lifestyle, and popular heritage over the decades.

The Higher Committee brings together experts from a range of fields including literary criticism and cultural narratives, libraries and archiving, short stories, popular culture, and Arabic language and literature. The group is headed by His Excellency Abdullah Majid Al Ali, Director General of the National Library and Archives. Members are Bahraini academic and critic Dr. Dheya Al Kaabi; Egyptian writer Dr. Miral al-Tahawy; Emirati director, writer, and producer Nasser Al Dhaheri; and Dr. Saïd Yaktine, Moroccan narratologist and critic. Dr. Khalil Al Sheikh, a researcher, scholar, and literary critic, serves as the committee’s rapporteur.

“The Golden Narrative Award is an exciting addition to the UAE’s cultural landscape, enriching the field of storytelling and reflecting our nation’s unique identity by highlighting local values, customs, and heritage,” said H.E. Al Ali. “The award recognises and supports creative minds, and will help enable their important work in preserving and passing down to future generations the folk heritage of the UAE, in line with both the Centre’s mission and Abu Dhabi’s overarching cultural vision. We hope it will establish a productive environment for creativity and innovation that encourages talent across all literary disciplines.”

The Higher Committee recently held its first meeting, where it discussed the nomination procedure and the criteria for selecting the winners, as well as reviewed the internal processes and function of the Award.

The Award’s six categories are the Short Story Prize, where talented writers’ unpublished creations are evaluated, honoured, and published, as well as the Short Story Collection Prize, which recognises published Emirati or Arab stories that draw inspiration from heritage.

The Popular Narratives Prize honours collections of popular folktales that build shared memory and contribute to the formation of a cultural identity, or notable studies that analyse these tales, while the Narrators and Biographers Prize celebrates narrators of popular literature and biographies from the UAE and the wider Arab world.

The Illustrated Story Prize selects a narrative that relies on images in its structure, blending narration and graphic arts, while the Emirati Storytelling Prize honours literary works that explore Emirati identity and are inspired by the UAE’s history, geography, and symbols.

Biographies of the Higher Committee members

H.E. Abdullah Majid Al Ali

Over the past 27 years, H.E. Abdullah Majid Al Ali occupied several key functional positions in the fields of media, culture, and heritage, among others. This included working as Executive Director at the National Archive since January 2021, Executive Director of the ‘Dar Al Kutub’ and Libraries Management divisions at DCT Abu Dhabi, as well as Acting Executive Director of the ALC. H.E. Al Ali held several positions at DCT Abu Dhabi over the years, achieving great success in managing flagship projects, such as the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA), the Kalima Project for Translation, ‘Esdarat’ publishing initiative, and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF). Moreover, H.E. oversaw the establishment of the Qasr al Watan Library at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, and has played an influential role as a member of several committees, including the Board of the National Archive, Board of Trustees of the SZBA, and Board of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Dr. Dheya Al Kaabi

Dr. Dheya Al Kaabi heads the Department of Arabic Language and Islamic Studies at Bahrain University. An academic and critic specialising in cultural narration, histories of critical thought, discourse analysis, feminist studies, old and new narrative studies, and popular culture, Dr. Al Kaabi is currently working on a cultural narrative project that she founded. She holds a PhD in the philosophy of the Arabic Language and its Literature from the University of Jordan, has received several local and regional awards, and published a series of works, including Old Arabic Narration: Cultural Patterns and Polemical Interpretation; Popular Arab Narratives and Cultural Representations and Interpretations. Dr. Al Kaabi also contributed five books to the project of ‘Uyun al Shi’r al Arabi’, published by ALC, and authored several research papers in peer-reviewed journals in the field of cultural narratives and modern literary criticism.

Dr. Miral al-Tahawy

Dr. Miral al-Tahawy, is an award-winning Egyptian creative writer whose novels and short stories have been internationally recognised alongside her prodigious record of academic research and service. She currently serves as an affiliate member of the Virginia G. Piper Centre for Creative Writing at Arizona State University, where she is also an active Associate Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Head of Classics and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC).

Nasser Al Dhaheri

Nasser Al Dhaheri headed several Arab and foreign newspapers, magazines, and publications. He has written a daily column for UAE newspaper Al-Ittihad titled ‘The Eighth Column’ for 20 years, and has published 14 books including stories, novels, articles, and studies. Al Dhaheri won many literary and media awards at the local, Arab, and international levels, including the Taryam Omran Tarim award for best columnist, the Arab Journalism award for best Arab columnist, the Gulf Cooperation Council Medal of Appreciation for best Emirati creator, and the UAE Pioneers Medal. Al Dhaheri works in the field of cinema as a writer, producer, and director. His feature-length documentary film (On the Life of Water… Palm Trees… and People) won 21 international awards.

Dr. Saïd Yaktine

Moroccan narratologist and critic Dr. Saïd Yaktine earned a State Doctorate from the Mohammed V University in Rabat, where he also teaches at the Faculty of Arts and Science in the University since 1985. He is a member of the consulting body for various journals in Morocco and the Arab world, and serves on the judging panel for numerous Arab awards. Dr. Yaktine won the highest Moroccan Prize for Literature in 1989 and 1997, as well as the Abd al-Hamid Shuman Prize from Jordan in 1992, the SZBA 2016 in the Literary and Art Criticism category for his book Al-Fikr al-Adabi al-Arabi (Arabic Literary Thought). He has published more than 20 books on various aspects of Arabic novel writing, old Arabic narrative, narrative theory, social critique, and digital literature.

Dr. Khalil al Sheikh

Dr. Khalil al Sheikh is a Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Jordan’s Yarmouk University. He has worked as a visiting professor at various reputable academic institutions, and published more than 25 peer-reviewed studies, as well as many works in comparative literature, literary criticism, storytelling, and autobiography. Furthermore, Dr. Al Sheikh translated numerous notable children’s and young adult books, such as Kafka’s Diary, Today the Fox Becomes a Hunter by Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Herta Müller, Ingo Schulze’s Adam & Evelyn, Gustav Seibt’s Goethe & Napoleon, and Helmut Böttiger’s Beyond Utopia. Dr. al Sheikh has a PhD in Critical Comparative Studies from the University of Bonn in West Germany.

About the Golden Narrative Award

The Golden Narrative (Sard Al Thahab) Award is a new annual prize created by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre which aims to showcase and support the folk art of Arabic storytelling across the Arab world. The Award was established in recognition of the rich tradition of storytelling in the Arabic language, including the enduring prevalence of popular folktales and legends that are integral to Arab heritage, culture and thought. Through six prize categories including Short Story, Short Story Collection, Popular Narrative, Narrators and Biographers, Illustrated Story, Emirati Storytelling, the Award seeks to recognise this tradition and support its study and expression in contemporary culture.

About the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre

The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, established following a directive from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, late President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, as part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, works to support Arabic language development and modernisation through comprehensive strategies and frameworks, enrich the scientific, educational, cultural and creative contributions of the Arabic language, promote Arabic language proficiency and cultural understanding, and support Arab talents in the fields of writing, translation, publishing, scientific research, arts, content creation and organisation of book fairs. The Centre works to realise its foundational vision through dedicated programmes, human expertise, and meaningful partnerships with the world’s most prestigious technical, cultural, and academic institutions.

About the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi's culture, tourism and creative sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi's wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the emirate's position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate's potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies, and systems to support the culture and tourism industries.

DCT Abu Dhabi's vision is defined by the emirate's people, heritage, and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi's status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.