A trio of new literary prizes, announced yesterday by sponsor¬†twofour54, will reward books by Emiratis in three categories: Best Novel, Best Short Novel (Novella), and “Special Writer”:

At the news conference: Jamal Al Shehhi, Secretary General of Emirates Novel Awards, and Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54.
At the news conference: Jamal Al Shehhi, Secretary General of Emirates Novel Awards, and Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54.

According to the prize website, any UAE citizen can submit their work to the Novel and Short Novel categories, as long as it is a work written in Arabic that has not yet been published. The submission deadline is the “first week of September.”

After these are submitted, a shortlist of three — in the Novel and Short Novel categories — will be announced online, although no date was given for the announcement. The judging will then be carried out 50 percent by a panel of judges and 50 percent by online voters, who presumably will be able to read the shortlisted manuscripts online. The judges were not named.

It was still unclear what the authors would win. According to The National, Emirates Novel Awards secretary general Jamal Al Shehhi said that it would include cash and foreign translations. Also, the winning books will be published to coincide with the 2013 Sharjah International Book Fair, set to open on Nov. 6.

If you want to submit, send your novel to award@emiratesnovelaward.com. Although you might want to read the rules first.

The “Special Writer” award was less clear. It will be chosen solely by the judging panel and, according to¬†Gulf News,¬†will be “based on the current impact of the work on the UAE‚Äôs culture and literature.”

According to a news release, Jamal Al Shehhi, Secretary General of the awards, said, “The award serves to encourage, recognize, and promote talented Emirati writers. Initiatives such as this underpin Abu Dhabi’s commitment towards preserving and raising awareness of the¬†UAE‘s rich culture through literary projects. The short novel category was introduced to provide new cultural literary criteria.”

Organizers will also be hosting writing¬†workshops and seminars. This comes along with a number of other such programs promoting Emirati writing, such as the Made in UAE project for children’s literature. The Emirates has not been generally been known for its novelists; certainly, this is part of a major national initiative, alongside pushes to create more¬†films¬†and poetry.

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