Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb of Egypt's Al-Azhar religious institute was named Cultural Personality of the Year by the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards, in its seventh year.
At the ceremony held in Abu Dhabi during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Sheikh El-Tayyeb was given the prize for his leadership in moderation and tolerance. He was lauded for encouraging a culture of tolerance, dialogue and protection of civil society; demonstrating moderation through his many influential positions and publications; portraying Islamic thought and consistently rejecting violence and aggression in word and action.
This award comes at a time when Al-Azhar is under strong attack by the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt amid demands to replace the Imam with one from within the Brotherhood. Although the religious institution was historically considered part of the regime, Al-Azhar has tended to play the role of moderate Islam in the face of the more hardline Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist movements, choosing a more independent role versus a pro-regime. For that, the Grand Imam was alternately criticised for siding with opposition at times or with the old regime at other.
Sheikh Hazaa Al-Nahyan, Deputy Executive council of Abu Dhabi, presented the prizes, which included another six winners, listed here:
Lebanese writer Elizabeth-Suzaane Kassab was granted the Contribution to the Development of Nations Award for her book Al Fikr al Arabi al Mu'aser (Contemporary Arab Thought).
The Young Author Award went to Moroccan author Adil Hadjami for his book Falsafat Jeel Deleuze (Deleuze's Philosophy on Existentialism and Difference).
Tunisian translator, Fathi Meskini received the Translation Award for his translation into Arabic of Being and Time (German: Sein und Zeit, 1927) by Martin Heidegger.
The Literary and Art Critic Award went to Iraqi critic Abdullah Ibrahim for his book 'Al Takhayol Al Tarikhi' (Historic Visualization).
The Arab Culture in Non-Arabic Languages' Award went to writer and critic Marina Warner for her book Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights.
The Publishing and Technology Award went to the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature.
There were no winners of the Literature and Children’s Literature Awards this year because the nominees in these categories did not meet the award standards and criteria, according the prize’s panel of judges.