2004 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture awarded to Abdelwahab Bouhdiba and Juan Vernet GinésThe Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture for 2004 has been awarded to Tunisian researcher Abdelwahab Bouhdiba and Spanish historian Juan Vernet Ginés by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, following recommendations made by an international jury that met at the Organization's headquarters on September 1 and 2.
Born in 1923 in Barcelona, Juan Vernet Ginés is a renowned specialist in Arab science and the evolution of science – especially astronomy and map-making – during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Among his nearly 40 books and more than 300 articles are: Literatura árabe (1966) ; Astrología y astronomía en el Renacimiento : la revolución copernicana (1974) ; Historia de la ciencia española (1976) ; La Cultura hispano árabe en Oriente y Occidente (1978) ; Mahoma (1987) and his versions of the Koran and 1001 Arabian Nights. The jury highlighted "his particular efforts to reaffirm the place held by Arab culture in Spanish culture".
Abdelwahab Bouhdiba, a sociology professor at the University of Tunis who holds degrees in philosophy and literature, was born in 1932 in the Tunisian city of Kairouan. Since 1995, he has presided over the "Beït AI Hikma" Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Literature and Arts in Carthage. His best-known work is La Sexualité en Islam (Sexuality in Islam), which has been translated in English, Arabic, Bosnian, Spanish and Japanese, and will soon be available in Portuguese. The jury highlighted "the richness, diversity and depth of his analyses of Arab culture which have yielded publications in both Arabic and French, thus contributing to the dialogue between cultures and civilizations".
The Sharjah Prize -- which includes a monetary award of 25,000 dollars for each laureate -- was created by the Executive Board of UNESCO in 1998 thanks to funds donated by the government of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). First awarded every two years, the prize is now given out annually and aims to honor individuals, groups or institutions that have contributed in a significant way to the development, diffusion and promotion of Arab culture in the world, as well as to the preservation and revitalization of intangible Arab cultural heritage. In 2001, the first prize was awarded to Professors Abdulaziz El Makaleh (Yemen) and Na Zhong (China). In 2003, the prize was given to Moroccan writer Bin Salem Himmich and Bosnian professor Esad Duraković.
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura will hand out the prize to the two laureates on October 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Organization's headquarters. The international jury chose the winners of the Sharjah Prize from a pool of 45 candidates nominated by 37 different countries.