The Sheikh Zayed Book Award has announced the Moroccan historian and scholar, Abdallah Laroui, is to be celebrated as the Cultural Personality of the Year for the award’s eleventh session 2016-2017. The title honours prominent figures for their unique contributions to the advancement of Arabic culture, and for works that portray tolerance and promote peaceful coexistence.
Speaking on the decision of the board of trustees and scientific committee, Dr Ali Bin Tamim, Award’s Secretary General, said: “The choice of the prominent historian and theoretician Abdallah Laroui as Cultural Personality of the Year has been made to reflect his well-founded thought movement and cultural momentum spanning the entire Arab World. His valuable contribution to academic institutes and scientific bodies has profoundly influenced Arab political thinking and inspired numerous cultural and literary practices.”
Professor Laroui enjoys a unique mix of in-depth knowledge of Arabic culture and Western values, with wide interests across intellectual, literary and artistic scopes, especially in the fields of philosophy, history, narrative arts, and cinema. Since the 1960’s, Laroui’s portfolio includes numerous publications of scholarly studies, literary works and translations in a number of Moroccan, Arabic, and French journals. In 1967, his book “L’Idéologie arabe contemporaine” (The Contemporary Arabic Ideology) was published in French with a preface by Maxime Rodinson, the famous French historian, sociologist and orientalist. In 1970, the Arabic translation of the book established Abdallah Laroui’s reputation as a key figure in the study of Arabic culture, attracting the attention of scholars and academics with interests in Arabic culture and matters of the Arab World.
The Award will be presented at the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s annual ceremony to be held during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on April 30, 2017, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Laroui was born on 7 November, 1933 in the city of Azemmour in Morocco. He received his preliminary and secondary studies in Rabat and moved to Paris to continue his higher education in political sciences where he achieved his diploma in 1958, followed by a certificate of honorary in Islamic studies in 1963. In 1967, he received his doctoral degree from Sorbonne University in Paris, for his thesis on “the social and cultural basis of the Moroccan nationality: 1830-1912”. Laroui accepted the invitation of the Austrian historian and Arabist, Gustave Edmund von Grunebaum, to serve as professor at the University of California, before returning to Morocco to serve as a professor in the faculty of Literature at the Moroccan University until his retirement in the year 2000. He has been an active member in the Kingdom of Morocco Academy and the Moroccan Society for Human Rights, and is considered one of Morocco’s leading intellectuals.