Ibrahim Al-Koni was announced the winner of the Ministry of Culture's 2010 Arabic Novel Award. He has donated the LE100,000 ($18,000) prize money to the children of the Tuareg tribe in Mali and Niger. Al-Koni explained that his gesture was one of sacrifice, as the creative writer is bound to be unite cultures and serve as a messenger for those in need. Al-Koni also made a point of thanking the selection committee and congratulated the award's creators for their successful enterprise.
Al-Koni's win was announced by Sobhi Hadidi, a Syrian critic and one of the members of the selection committee, after which Farouk Hosni, minister of culture, presented the prize.
According to the committee, "Al-Koni invented a complex anthropologic narrative that is loyal to people and to events, linking the natural and supernatural and restoring the local epic [and] registering the stories of the residents of the desert."
Al-Koni has completed 45 novels, all of which display rich and lively language.
The selection committee also included Jordanian critic Mohamed Shaheen, Egyptian critics Ibrahim Fathi and Hussein Hammouda, Abdel-Hameed Amhadeen from Bahrain and Abdel-Riheem Allam from Morocco. The decision was made in a five-round process in which 23 competing works were considered.
In theory, the prize is to be awarded every two years, but it has not been the case. The first competition was in 1998 and was won by Saudi author Abel-Rahman Munif. The second was in 2003 and was supposed to be awarded to Egyptian author Sonallah Ibrahim. However, he refused to receive the award in a renowned incident, protesting the Egyptian government's compliance with Israel, the occupation of Iraq and the US presence in Egypt.
The third award was given in 2005 to Sudanese author Tayyeb Saleh. In 2008, the prize went to Egyptian author Edward Kharrat.