Iraqi calligrapher and Polish publisher win UN-backed Arab culture award

Iraqi poet and calligrapher Ghani Alani

18 January 2010 – An Iraqi poet and calligrapher and a Polish publisher and academic have been awarded the United Nations-backed Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture for 2009.

Ghani Alani, considered an artistic heir to the Baghdad school and one of the great masters of contemporary calligraphy, was awarded the prize for introducing Arab/Islamic calligraphy to the West, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today.

Anna Parzymies, the director of a publishing house devoted to Arab culture who has taken part in the publication of more than 80 books and set up the Department for European Islam Studies at the University of Warsaw, won her award for her invaluable contribution to promoting Arab culture in Poland.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will present the prize at a ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Paris on 9 February. The laureates were recommended by an international jury that examined 28 nominations from 21 UNESCO Member States.

The Sharjah Prize, worth $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, it has been given out annually 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 revitalization of Arab intangible heritage.


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