News: The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

September 30, 2016

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize is the only Arabic literary translation award dedicated to the translation of contemporary Arabic literature into English. It not only aims to raise the profile of contemporary Arabic literature, but also to honor the important work of translators who bring the work of emerging Arab writers to the world.


The award was created by the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature and by Banipal, a U.K.-based magazine founded by Margaret Obank and her Iraqi writer and journalist husband, Samuel Shimon, in 1998.


In an article written for, writer Brian Whitaker suggests there has been a surge in interest in Arabic literature in the U.S. and across the world, spurred by the events of 9/11, the Arab Spring and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East. But, he says the interest is not so much for the literary qualities of the works but for what Iraqi poet and novelist Sinan Antoon described as "forensic interest", meaning reading it for the purpose of "anthropology or ethnology or getting into the Arab mind".


gpi-arabic literary price-home

Only translations of works originally published in Arabic in 1967 or later are eligible for entry. This year 19 titles are in contention for the Banipal prize, of which, 17 are fiction titles and two poetry.


You can find a complete list of this year's entries on, including the names of the publishers, translators and authors.


The 2015 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize was awarded to Paul Starkey for his translation of the novel The Book of the Sultan's Seal by Youssef Rakha, published by Interlink Books in the United States. Professor Starkey, who will be a judge this year, is a former Professor of Arabic and Head of the Arabic Department at Durham University in the U.K.


The 2016 winner will be announced in December at the Society of Authors in London.

For more information on the rise of Arabic literature translation, please see:

Further Resources on Arabic Culture, Language and Translation


Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites into the Arabic language. We have previously posted a number of useful guides for best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:



Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.  You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects.

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Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, Arabic Literature, Arabic Literacy Award, Translation Awards, Arabic translation, Arabic translation awards

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Farah is a native Arabic speaker born and residing in Cairo, Egypt. She received her degree in Commerce and English from Ain-Shams University studying marketing, management, economics and accounting. Her experience includes working in various specialties in global digital marketing with specific training in Link Building, Website Traffic Analysis, On-page Optimization and Off-page Optimization as well as standard Social Media Marketing. She is skilled in a variety of tools including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Light Room and SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SeoMoz, Opensite Explorer, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. She enjoys playing sports such as swimming and basketball and loves to read in her spare time.