Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Poet Dunya Mikhail and actress Helen Al-Janabi, laureates of the 18th edition

The 18th edition of the Prize has been awarded to Dunya Mikhail, an American-Iraqi poet, and Helen Al-Janabi, a Swedish actress of Syrian-Iraqi origin, in recognition of their strong commitment to the promotion of Arab culture around the world. More information




Established in 1998, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards, each year, two laureates – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavour to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture.

Applicants to the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab culture must have contributed significantly towards the development, dissemination and the promotion of Arab culture in the world. The winners are chosen by the Director-General of UNESCO, on the recommendation of an international Jury of experts in the field of Arab Culture and having distinguished themselves, over several years, by meritorious actions. Thus, the winners contribute to the promotion of cultural dialogue and the revitalization of Arab culture.


Laureates are awarded the Prize (with an amount of US$60 000, divided equally between two laureates), in recognition of their contribution – in their respective disciplines – to Arab art and culture, or for participating in the dissemination of the latter outside the Arab world. Together, the prize winners have come to represent a new generation of researchers, artists, philosophers, authors and translators with a profound desire to achieve a genuine dialogue between Arab culture and other cultures.

In an era of globalization and profound political and social changes facing the world, this Prize fully meets the values of mutual understanding that is cited in the Constitution of the Organization. By rewarding careers, lives, whose efforts have been to promote a culture to which they own so much, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab culture strives to foster a better understanding of other civilizations, thus promoting, or encouraging international exchange. Arab arts and culture have left traces all over the world, not only has the mosaic of cultures in the Arab region benefitted mutually but also cultures far beyond. One cannot find a better tread for cultivating peace.



Claudia Ott is well-known as the German translator of the Arabian Nights (Tausendundeine Nacht, 2004; Das Glückliche Ende, 2016, Hundertundeine Nacht, 2012). She is currently an associate member of the Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Göttingen.

Mohamed Ben Attia is a Tunisian film director and screenwriter. He directed several short films before he moved to feature film in 2016 with "Hedi, a wind of freedom". He won two prizes at the 2016 Berlinale. In 2018, he participated in the Cannes Film Festival with his film Dear Son.

Salah M. Hassan, a Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in Africana Studies and Research Center, and Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Cornell University.

Renowned for work that is as poetic as it is political and biographical, Emily Jacir has built a complex and compelling oeuvre through a diverse range of media and methodologies that include unearthing historic material, performative gestures, and in-depth research.

María Olga Samamé Barrera is an associate professor of Arabic literature, at the School of Philosophy and Humanities at the Universidad de Chile. She wrote extensively on issues pertaining to Arabic immigration, exile, and identity. She has specialized in the literature of immigrants and descendants of Arabs in Chile and the Americas.



Shama Chokkam-Sunderraj
Focal Point
UNESCO-Sharjah Prize
Social and Human Sciences Sector - UNESCO
7 place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP FRANCE
Tel.: + 33 1 45 68 09 66
E-mail: s.chokkam-sunderraj(at) / prix.sharjah(at)