Omar Khairat takes centre stage as Cultural Personality of year: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

Ahram Online , Monday 15 May 2023

Egyptian acclaimed composer Omar Khairat has been selected as the Cultural Personality of the Year by the organizers of the UAE’s 17th edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA).

Omar Khairat
Egyptian composer Omar Khairat performs at one of his recent concerts


Omar Khairat will be awarded “in honour of an illustrious, decades-long career of timeless musical creations that have contributed to shaping the collective cultural consciousness of the Arab region,” as stated by the SZBA's official website.

“The SZBA's Board of Trustees endorsed the Scientific Committee’s decision to choose Khairat as the Cultural Personality of the Year in recognition of his remarkable talent and artistic turnout, which has been tremendously popular in the Arab world and has been featured in musical introductions to films and many dramas.”

The SZBA is organized by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC); part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

Winners of this year’s SZBA also include Iraqi poet Ali Jaafar Alallaq; French author Mathieu Tillier; Algerian author Said Khatibi; Tunisian translator Chokri Al Saadi; Tunisian critic Jalila Al Tritarm, and Egyptian publishing house Dar ElAin.

Excellence and Innovation

Each year, the Cultural Personality of the Year award is given to "a prominent figure who has contributed to the advancement of Arabic culture and promoted peaceful coexistence."

“This year, we are proud to select Omar Khairat, one of the most renowned and celebrated musicians in the Arab world,” stated Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani.

“His constant striving for excellence and innovation has seen the artist make an incalculable impact on the music industry and the wider cultural landscape, as well as foster important cross-cultural dialogue. His passion reflects Abu Dhabi’s vision to nurture creativity and harness the power of the arts to build bridges and transcend borders,” he added.

Considerable Career

Born in 1947, the multi-awarded Omar Khairat is one of the top musicians of the Arab world with hundreds of memorized compositions in his repertoire.

Throughout his long successful career, he has written scores for numerous films and television series, including The Sixth Day (1984); The Terrorist (1993); Mafia (2002); Girl’s Love (2003); The Embassy in the Building (2005), and Deer’s Blood (2006), to name but a few.

His concerts are usually fully-booked weeks ahead of time with his wide fan base singing along and humming with compositions like Heya Di El-Hayah; Fi Hawid El Leil; Arabian Rhapsody; Fiha Haga Helwa; Eadam Mayet; El-Khawaga Abdel-Kader; Giran El-Hana; Saber; Arfa; Qadeyet Am Ahmed; Khali Balak Men Aklak, and other classic hits of time-honoured TV and films themes.

Among his upcoming performances is the 3rd of June’s large concert at the Sound and Light Theatre at the Pyramids and Sphinx site in Giza, where half of the tickets have already been sold-out.

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