Only recently, De Gruyter has announced that two of its authors have won Sheikh Zayed Book Awards for translation and original research. Namely, these were Ziad Bou Akl’s French translation of Averroes and David Wirmer’s German-language disquisition on the Andalusian-Arab thinker Ibn Bāǧǧa. The latter work not only discusses the mediating role that the Arab culture has played in the transmission of the Aristotelian thought to the West, but, similar to the former publication, demonstrates the global reach that cultural policies originating in the United Arab Emirates presently have.
It is difficult to overlook the larger context in which the activity of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation that supports the book prize takes place, such as the rapid transportation of Dubai into a global city and transportation hub. Nearby Abu Dhabi puts finishing touches on its cultural complex including a local branch of the Louvre Museum to open its doors in 2017. While these urban development policies placing a prime on spectacular architecture also have an academic component in the form of the presence of Western universities at local campuses, such as the New York University Abu Dhabi, they are yet to be reconsidered from cultural policy perspective.
As literary and academic prizes from asset-rich Middle Eastern states confirm the academic quality and relevance of latest scholarship from Europe-based research institutions, the balance of cultural influence also appears to be shifting eastward following the cultural policy priorities of global foundations.
Featured Image Credits: Entrance to the Manarat Al Saadiyat, Art Dubai 21–24 March 2012 | © Courtesy of latitudes-flickr.