Sard Al Thahab
Sard Al Thahab

Sard Al Thahab

The Golden Narrative (Sard Al Thahab) Award is a new annual award launched by ALC to support the popular art of Arabic storytelling across the Arab world. The award was created to recognize the long-standing tradition of storytelling in Arabic, including the constant spread of folk tales and legends, which has been an integral part of Arab heritage, culture, and identity. It consists of six award categories:Short Story for Unpublished Stories, Short Story for Published Stories, Popular Narratives , Narrators, Illustrated Story, and Emirati Storytelling.


The Story behind the Name


Narrative as a concept started to gain interest in the field of literary criticism. It has become a critical approach that seeks to interpret literary texts and artworks. As a term, the art of narration emerged in the mid 1960s to refer to any artistic creation that relays a story from everyday life, popular tales, legends, or other literary sources. It goes without saying that any narration process requires a time, place, characters, and a main event. It relies on language or images.


It is noteworthy that the late Sheikh Zayed used the term "sard" (meaning narration) in one of his poems:


I knew well what befell him, but alas

I wish he mastered narration as he did grammar!


The connection between narrative and grammar in this verse combines the beauty of the story with the consistency and clarity of the language. Importantly, the word narrative appears in the verse based on its use in the Arabic language, indicating the orderly, seamless, and graceful sequence of words.


As for the word 'golden', the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan used it to indicate beauty, fairness, and embellishment, as when he said:


How skillfully it was adorned and graced,

with gold and elegant calligraphy


The Award's name is a combination of both words: golden and narrative. Hence, the Award should serve as a means to discover literary beauty, consistency, and the ability to create, rediscover, or narrate a tale.




"The Award was inspired by the visionary poetry of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to be a focal point for combining creativity and thought, to create an artistic movement that will make Sheikh Zayed's creative experience a focal point towards new forms of creativity.


• Focusing on the popular narrative that resonates with the Arab culture, acknowledging exceptional narrative compositions, publishing them, and presenting their creators.


• Highlighting contemporary pieces of fiction, uncovering emerging talents in this field, and recognizing exceptional literary creations.


• Preserving popular narratives to enrich the cultural heritage of future generations by establishing a creative and academic connection with these narratives.


• Nurturing the illustrated storytelling that captures the essence of life in the UAE and the Arab world through the medium of photography and film.


• Recognizing the contributions of storytellers who specialize in biographies, literature, and popular narratives, both within the local community and throughout the Arab world.


• Promoting exceptional works that explore the Emirati narrative in all its facets, through creative expression, scholarly examination, and critical analysis."


General Conditions:


    1. The candidate must have contributed to the development of the Emirati narrative through creative or  research work that addresses                   various aspects of the UAE's history and present.


    2. A candidate may only enter only one work in one of the Award categories.


    3. The nominated work may not be nominated for another award in itself or by proxy in the same year.


    4. The nominated works must be composed in Arabic, with the exception of the Emirati Storytelling   category, which allows                                       submissions in Arabic or other languages.


    5. Narrative or research work may be published or unpublished, but if previously published, no more than five years should have                            elapsed since their publication.


    6. The Award is not granted to a work that has previously won a major Arab or foreign award.


    7. Compliance with the conditions stipulated in the “form” for participation in each of the Award categories          is required.


    8. It is permissible to renominate the same work for the Award, provided that the time-period condition is met, and an                    application is submitted. A winner is entitled to apply for the prize again after 5 years of having won the Award.


Last day of submission: 31 May 2024



    Sard Al Thahab Award 

    Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre. 

    Department of Culture & Tourism - Abu Dhabi. 

    Nation Tower B, Corniche, Floor 4 

    P.O. Box 7050 Abu Dhabi, UAE.


    Phone: +97125995068

    WhatsApp: +971509073089


The Award seeks to enhance and preserve the Emirati values and cultural heritage to inspire future generations. Consisting of six categories, it will aim to introduce the art of storytelling and narration, support related studies, and represent this art within the context of modern culture.

Emirati Narration

Emirati Narration

Honors literary works in Arabic and other languages that explore Emirati identity and are inspired by the UAE’s history, geography, and other values.
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Short Story for unpublished stories

Short Story for unpublished stories

This prize recognizes innovative, unpublished short story collections that make a noteworthy contribution to this art.
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Illustrated Story

Illustrated Story

This category honours works that are based on photography, a series of photos, short videos, a feature film, or plastic art that blends literary narration with visual arts
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This prize is given to honor narrators of popular literature and biographies from the UAE and the wider Arab world, who recite these works orally.
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Short Story for published stories

Short Story for published stories

A collection of published stories that draw inspiration from heritage and reproduce it in an artistic manner.
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Popular Narratives

Popular Narratives

This prize honors literary works that collect folk narratives such as tales, fables, and popular stories that constitute a collective memory and contribute to forming the cultural identity
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Higher Committee

HE Abdullah Majid al Ali

Director General of National Archives and National Library since November 2021. Over the past 27 years, HE occupied several key functional positions in the fields of media, culture and heritage; including working as Executive Director at the National Archive since January 2021 , Executive Director of Dar al Kutub and Libraries Management divisions at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, as well as Acting Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.


HE al Ali led several of DCT – Abu Dhabi’s divisions and units over the years, achieving great success in promoting the cultural identity of Abu Dhabi and positioning the capital emirate on the global stage as an important hub of cultural exchange and knowledge. The roles he occupied include Director of Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the flagship DCT event, between 2006 and 2012.


Between 2001 and 2005, HE al Ali worked as Deputy Head of Financial and Administrative Affairs, before joining the Human Resources division as Head of Employee Affairs; both positions at DCT. Before joining the Department, HE worked as a Public Relations Editor at gas liquefication giant ‘Adgas’ for two years. He started his professional career at the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, between 1994 and 1999.


HE al Ali has been instrumental to the success of some of DCT’s most notable events and programmes, such as Sheikh Zayed Book Award, ‘Kalima’ translation project, ‘Isdarat’ publishing initiative, and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Moreover, HE led the foundation of the Qasr al Watan Library at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, and has played an influential role as a member of several committees and departments within DCT, including the Board of the National Archive, Board of Trustees of Sheikh Zayed Book Award, and Board of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.


Furthermore, HE al Ali has participated in many self-development and coaching programmes, including the Board Excellence & Governance course by the GCC Institute for Board Members, in 2018. HE is a graduate of the Harvard School of Business Senior Management training course in April of the same year. HE is also a Certified Appraiser for the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) since 2010.


HE al Ali holds several academic qualifications, including a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Public Relations from the United Arab Emirates University in 1998. By 2005, HE has also attained a Master’s in Humanities from Ain Shams University in Egypt, with a thesis titled ‘Lifestyle Transformation & the Correlation with Behavioural and Cultural Influences in the UAE’.

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Dr. SaÏd Yaktine

A Moroccan narratologist and critic. He was born in Casablanca (8 – 5 - 1955). He obtained a state doctorate in the Arts from the Mohammed the Fifth University, Rabat, and is a teacher of higher education at the College of Arts and the Human Sciences in Rabat.


He is a member of the consulting body for various journals in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as a number of Arabic prizes. He won the highest Moroccan Prize for Literature in 1989 and 1997 , the Abd al-Hamid Shuman (Jordanian) Prize in 1992 , Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2016 in the Literary and Art Criticism category for Al-Fikr al-Adabi al-‘Arabi (Arabic Literary Thought), and Katara Prize in Narrative Critic for Assadriat Attatbiquia ( Narratology in practice) 2022.

He has published more than Twenty books on various aspects of Arabic Narrative, culture, Narratology and digital literature.

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Dr. Dheya Al Kaabi

Bahraini academic and critic, is the associte professor of Narratives and Modern Literary Criticism and Head of Department of Arabic Language and Islamic Studies at Bahrain University. She is specialized in cultural narration, histories of critical thought, discourse analysis, feminist studies, old and new narrative studies and popular culture. She is currently working on a cultural narrative project.

Dr.Al Kaabi holds a PhD in Arabic Language and Literature, from University of Jordan, a BA in Arabic Language and Literature from Bahrain University and a Post Certificate in Academic Practice, from York St. John University in UK.

She has published a number of books and received several local and regional awards. Her published works are: Old Arabic Narration: Cultural Patterns and Polemical Interpretation, Popular Arab Narratives: Cultural Representations and Interpretations, Polemical Discourse in Arab Culture: Hermeneutical Approaches, Book of Popular Bahraini Tales, One Thousand and One Tale, (a collective work project gathered and written in 5 volumes), as well as co-writing and editing several other books. She contributed five books to the project of ‘Uyun al Shi’r al Arabi (Springs of Arab Poetry), published by Abu Dhabi Center for Arabic Language.

She has participated in several local, regional and international conferences, and published many researches in peer-reviewed journals in the field of cultural narratives and modern literary criticism of old and new narrative texts.

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Dr. Miral al-Tahawy

Miral al-Tahawy is an award-winning Egyptian creative writer whose novels and short stories have been internationally recognized alongside her prodigious record of academic research and service.


She currently serves as an affiliate member of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, AZ, where she is also an active Associate Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Head of Classics and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC).

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Mr. Nasser AL Dhaheri

Director, writer and producer, he headed several Arab and foreign newspapers, magazines and publications. He has been a daily columnist for the UAE newspaper Al-Ittihad, entitled "The Eighth Column", for 20 years. He has published 14 books of various stories, novels, articles, studies, and photographs.


He won many literary and media awards at the local, Arab and international levels, including: “Taryam Omran Tarim” award as the best journalist columnist, the “Arab Journalism” award as the best Arab journalist columnist, and the Medal of Appreciation “from the Gulf Cooperation Council” as the best Emirati creator. And the Medal of the First Emirates.

He works in the field of cinema as a writer, producer, and director. His long documentary film “On the Life of Water… Palm Trees… and People” won 21 international awards from different countries of the world. His experimental long film “Gods of Time” won him a short film “Tolerance.” International awards, the UAE Pioneers Medal, a documentary film on local architecture "Taf al-Mamur", a short experimental film "The Sedition of the Body... Craving for Water", the movie "The Millstone" and the movie "Black Spot of Light".

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Dr.Khalil al Sheikh

A researcher, scholar, literary critic, and Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Yarmouk University. He has a Ph D in Critical Comparative Studies, attained in 1986 at the University of Bonn in West Germany, and has since worked as a visiting professor at many reputable academic institutions.


Dr al Sheikh is an accomplished and renowned researcher, with over 25 peer-reviewed studies as well as many works in comparative literature to his name, in addition to his work on literary criticism, storytelling and autobiography. In translation, Dr al Sheikh translated various studies on literary criticism and creative writing from German to Arabic.


He has also translated many important children and youth titles, such as ‘Kafka’s Diary’, ‘Today the Fox Becomes a Hunter’ by Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Herta Müller, Ingo Schulze’s ‘Adam & Evelyn’, Gustav Seibt’s ‘Goethe & Napoleon’, and Helmut Böttiger’s ‘Beyond Utopia’.

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