Sharjah Award for Arabian culture presented

October 2003 -

Late in September 2003, Koïchiro Matsuura, Unesco director-general, presented the Sharjah award for Arabian culture in Paris to the Moroccan author Ben Salem Himmich and Bosnian professor Esad Durakovic. The jury selected Himmich and Durakovic to receive the award from 54 candidates nominated by 32 different countries.

One of the objectives of Unesco is to establish peace through culture. Reciprocal understanding based on broad and in-depth development has central focus.

The Unesco Council established the Sharjah award for Arabian culture in 1998. The funds were made available by Sheik Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, the ruler of Sharjah (United Arabian Emirates). The award, $ 25,000, is intended for individuals whose artistic, intellectual or promotional activities have contributed to the development and dissipation of the Arabian culture throughout the world. It is presented bi-annually.

The writer, poet and philosopher Ben Salem Himmich (1947) teaches at the University of Rabat in Morocco. He has published 26 books in Arabian and French, both literary and scientific works. As a liberal philosopher, Himmich is concerned with matters including ideological education in the Islam. He advocates the division of church and state.

Esad Durakovic (1948) is professor at the Institute for Eastern Studies in Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina). He is an Orientalist and translator of literary works from various periods in the Arabian culture. His has focused in particular on Taha Hussein, Khalil Gibran and Naguib Mahfouz. In 1999 he translated One thousand and one nights and the famous Mu'allaqat poems from the pre-Islamic period.