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Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature announces shortlist

Thirteen books from seven countries have been shortlisted for the 12th Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature.

Organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by the Etisalat Group, the annual competition shines a spotlight on the burgeoning children’s literature genre in region.

With a record 221 submissions received this year spanning the Arab world and diaspora, winners will be announced in an online ceremony next month, receiving cash prizes totalling up to Dh1.2 million ($326,712).

In the marquee category of Children’s Book of the Year, finalists include The Two Best Friends by Rand Adel Saber and illustrator Basma Haidar.

Also in the running is I Caught a Moon by Arwa Dawood Khumayyis and illustrator by Israa Hudayri.

Egyptian author Hadeel Ghonim and illustrator Sahar Abdullah have also been shortlisted for the prize with Shahrazizi’s Nights: A Tale Within a Tale Within a Tale.

Emirati author and 2018 Children’s Book of the Year winner Aisha Abdullah Al Harithi is back on the nomination list, this time in the Best Text category for The Monster and I alongside illustrator by Baraa Al Awour. Also nominated is Words by Syria’s Jikar Khorshid and illustrator by Maha Daher.

Other categories to be recognised in the ceremony include Best Production, Best Illustration and Best Young Author.

Launched in 2009, the Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature has grown to become an important platform for the nascent genre. In addition to the annual competition, the award hosts numerous writing workshops across the region to inspire the next generation of authors and illustrators.

“The award aims to enrich a culture of reading and love of Arabic books among children by recognising the best authors, illustrators and publishers of Arabic children’s books,” reads the mission statement.

“Over the years, the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature has helped to raise the profile of Arabic children’s literature and contributed to a renaissance in this sector.”

The competition joins a number of UAE literary events migrating online due to the pandemic. Other competitions that adopted streamed ceremonies include April’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

For more information, visit the award website on