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Iraqi calligrapher Ghani Alani and Polish publisher Anna Parzymies share 2009 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture


Paris, The 2009 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture has been awarded to the Iraqi poet and calligrapher Ghani Alani and the Polish publisher and academic Anna Parzymies. They were recommended by an international jury that examined 28 nominations from 21 Member States. UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova will present the prize at a ceremony at Headquarters on 9 February (Room I)*.

Ghani Alani, poet and calligrapher, heir of the Baghdad school, is one of the great masters of contemporary calligraphy. The internationally renowned artist has exhibited in every major capital in the world, perpetuating the Arab/Islamic tradition of calligraphy, considered the highest form of expression in Arabic culture, bringing together the diverse facets of knowledge. The prize was awarded to Ghani Alani for introducing Arab/Islamic calligraphy to the West.

Anna Parzymies is a Polish publisher and academic, specializing in Arab culture. As director of a publishing house devoted to Arab culture, Anna Parzymies took part in the publication of more than 80 books. In 1998, she set up the Department for European Islam Studies at the University of Warsaw (Poland). It is one of the first scientific institutions in Europe devoted to Arab/Muslim culture and society in the region. The prize has been awarded to Anna Parzymies for her invaluable contribution to promoting Arab culture in Poland.

The Sharjah Prize – of US$30,000 for each laureate – was proposed by Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohamed Al-Qassimi and approved by UNESCO’s Executive Council in 1998, with funds from the Emirate of Sharjah. Initially awarded every two years, the Prize has been annual since 2003 and honours individuals, groups or institutions that have made a significant contribution to the development, dissemination and promotion of Arab culture throughout the world, as well as the conservation and revitalisation of Arab intangible heritage.

In its first year, 2001, the Prize was awarded to the poet and academic Abdulaziz El Makaleh (Yemen) and to Professor Abdul RhamanNa Zhong (People’s Republic of China). In 2003, the Prize went to Professors Bin Salem Himmich (Morocco) and Esad Duraković (Bosnia-Herzegovina). In 2004, it was awarded to Professors Abdelwahab Bouhdiba (Tunisia) and Juan Vernet Ginés (Spain). The writer Tahar Ouettar (Algeria) and Father Michel Lagarde (Vatican City) were the two laureates in 2005, Jamal Al-Shalabi (Jordan) and Yordan Peev (Bulgaria) laureates in 2006, and academics Aladine Lolah (Syria) and Shah Abdus Salam (India) in 2007. The 2008 laureates were Gaber Asfour (Egypt) and José Adalberto Coelho Alves (Portugal).

*The award ceremony will be preceded by a session of East-West « dialogues » at 3. p.m., and followed at 6.30 p.m. by an exhibition of works by Ghani Alani and books published by Anna Parzymies.


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