Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center launches MAD 1.5m nabati poetry prize

The Arabic Language Center Abu Dhabi, part of the Department of Language and Tourism Abu Dhabi, has officially launched the Kanz Al Jeel (Precious Proverbs) Prize, a 1.5 million dirham literary prize celebrating the history and heritage of nabati poetry.

The price was first announced in April. However, an official launch ceremony took place at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on Friday, revealing more about the inspiration and intent of the prize, as well as its guidelines.

The name of the Kanz Al Jeel Prize was inspired by a poem written by the Founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. While kanz translates to treasure or wealth, the word jeel refers to poems and is the colloquial Emirati form of the word qeel (what was said).

“Kanz Al Jeel is an exceptional award that brings tremendous value and depth to our cultural scene,” said Ali Bin Tamim, Chairman of Arabic Language Center Abu Dhabi, at the launch ceremony. “It reflects the wisdom, passion for poetry and vision of our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who helped cement this literary genre in the hearts and minds of all Emiratis and Arabs. “

Nabati is a form of vernacular poetry derived from the many varieties of Arabic spoken in the Arabian Peninsula, which contrasts with poetry written according to the classical rules of literary Arabic. The form is an essential component of the Emirati literary heritage and dates back to at least the 14th century. It originated from the Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula and was first referenced by the Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun in his 1377 work. Al Muqaddimah.

Although the themes addressed in Nabati poetry, including group solidarity, unity, chivalry and desire, are common to all Arabic literature, Nabati poetry is notable for its use of colloquial and direct language. .

Nabati poetry also incorporates maxims, riddles, legends, proverbs and praises of the achievements of great rulers. A deep love for family, and the challenges and allure of desert life are also common themes.

One of the most famous recent practitioners of the poetry form was Sheikh Zayed himself.

“[His] the poems cemented the importance of nabati poetry, marking its continuity through the generations. He made poetry an ephemeral art form,” said Dheya Al Kaabi, assistant professor of modern literary criticism at the University of Bahrain, at the award launch ceremony.

“[His] the poetry was exceptional, as was his political and social wisdom and his approach to building bridges with other countries. When we look back on what he said in interviews, we find poetry that speaks of wisdom.

“We hope this prize will promote its values, support academic studies of Nabati poetry, and motivate Arab scholars and orientalists to pursue their efforts and continue to advance and promote this art form,” Al Kaabi said.

“The award will undoubtedly be a notable addition to Poetic Arts and the Sheikh Zayed Poetry Encyclopedia, a priority area for the ALC,” said Eissa Saif Al Mazrouei, Vice President of the Festivals Management Committee and the Cultural Heritage. Programs in Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Kanz Al Jeel Prize.

In addition to nabati poetry itself, the Kanz Al Jeel award also recognizes folk studies and research studies on the subject. It aims to preserve the traditional heritage of the poetic form for the next generation.

There are six categories in the award: Poetry Matching (where applicants must match the poem yaealu nun bant muzunah by Sheikh Zayed); Creative personality; Arts (which includes Arabic calligraphy); Studies and Research; Poetic publications; and Translation.

Candidates will compete for a share of the 1.5 million dirham prize pool.

“The prize is a promising step towards enriching the local and Arab cultural and literary landscape with new poetic models that serve to introduce readers to this art form, to enrich Arab libraries, to preserve this part of our heritage and to promote it as a literary genre that reflects our societies and their aspirations,” Bin Tamim said. “The award is overseen by a jury of renowned experts and literary and intellectual figures with extensive expertise in Nabati poetry and of its history.”

Originally closed on Thursday 30 June, the application period for the inaugural version of the award has now been extended until Saturday 30 July. Nominations are open to individuals, literary unions, cultural institutions and universities, who may submit in any of the award categories, with the exception of Creative Personality, where nominations are only accepted through accredited channels or high-level literary and academic personalities.

“Candidates must have actively contributed to enriching local and Arab poetic, critical or artistic movements,” the award guidelines state. “Nominated works must also exhibit a high level of originality and innovation, making a significant addition to human culture and knowledge.”

Applicants may submit only one entry for each award category. A nominated work cannot be submitted for another award in person or by proxy in the same year. Nominated works must be written in Arabic, with the exception of the Translation and Studies and Research categories, which consider poems translated from Arabic into other languages.

“The great value this award brings is perhaps most evident in its unconventional theme and name, [and] has a unique aesthetic and points to a meaningful purpose,” said Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, Acting General Manager of Arabic Language Center Abu Dhabi, at the launch.

“Today’s popular poetry needs this kind of prize to reach the world and go beyond the limits of spoken word poetry, [which is] limited to its local audience and culture. We strive to make the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair a launching pad for the award. We deeply appreciate the importance of Nabati poetry and its close connection to our culture; it is an integral part of the culture and civilization of the Emirati and Arab peoples.

Updated: May 28, 2022, 10:31 a.m.

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s) {if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod ? n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)}; if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′; n.tail=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,’script’, ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’); fbq(‘init’, ‘797427810752825’); fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);