The 2023 winner in the poetry category is “غناء الماء” (Singing of Water) written by Mohanned Thabit Al Akouse, illustrated by Maliheh Ahmadi, and published by Nour El Maaref Publishing and Distribution. According to organizers, “This poetry book combines storytelling and poetry, conveying valuable lessons in rhyming verses that children enjoy. This literary work nurtures a child’s artistic sensibility and improves their linguistic capabilities.”
This year’s winner in the Young Adult category is “حلق مريم” (Mariam’s Earring) written by Rania Bedda, illustrated by Ayah Khamis, and published by Nahdet Misr Group. According to the prize, “This book tells us the story of Maryam who is shifting between provinces and gets involved in a family conflict: her uncle denies girls’ inheritance rights, while her grandparents seek to protect her. On this journey, Mariam finds her identity and life’s purpose through designing Nubian Jewellery, illuminating her path to self-discovery.”
The 2023 winner in the Chapter Book category is “تدمير العالم في 46 ثانية” (Destroying the World in 46 seconds), written by Palestinian author Mays Dagher, illustrated by Mohammad Alhamwi, and published by Al Yasmine Publishing from Jordan. Prize organizers write: “This book follows two 12-year-olds, Shubaib and Safi, who are disheartened by the global injustices and evil domination in the world. They decide the world is beyond repair and take matters into their own hands. They soon discover a book titled ‘Destroying the World in 46 Seconds – Beginners Guide’, sparking a daring quest. This thought-provoking novel explores their journey and the challenges faced in a world filled with young adult concerns.”
The 2023 winner in the Picture Book category is “فيل على إصبعي” (Elephant On My Finger), written by Abdulla Alsharhan, illustrated by Abdulla Alsharhan, and published by Ajyal. Organizers write that, “This picture book follows a boy’s journey with vitiligo. The visible difference caused by the condition becomes a metaphorical ‘elephant in the room,’ prompting self-discovery and acceptance. Through resilience, he learns to embrace his uniqueness, transforming the burden into a tiny companion on his fingertip. This touching tale advocates for embracing differences and fostering understanding.”
The 2023 winner in the Early Reader category is “مشاعر… مشاعر” (Feelings… Feelings) written by Fatima Al-Sadoun, illustrated by Eman Abd Al Hamid, and published by Canada’s Noon Books. According to organizers, “This delightful book about feelings helps children become more aware of their emotions, helps them Identify their feelings, and guides them on how to manage them.”
Winners in each category are given a 180,000-AED prize, which is distributed equally between the author, illustrator, and publisher, except for in the YA category, which is shared by the author and publisher.
The 2023 jury selected the shortlist from a total of 323 nominated publications, most of which were in the picture book category (136 books), followed by early childhood (65 books), and YA (49). Nearly half of these submissions came from publishers in the UAE, followed by Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.