Press release

UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture awarded to poet Dunya Mikhail and actress Helen Al-Janabi

Dunya Mikhail, an American-Iraqi poet, and Helen Al-Janabi, a Swedish actress of Syrian-Iraqi origin will be awarded the 18th UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture, based on the recommendations of an international jury of experts.
UNESCO Sharjah Prize Laureates 2022

The Prize recognizes their strong commitment to the promotion of Arab culture around the world. Through their work, both women communicate on complex issues while keeping them accessible for a large audience. This capacity, along with their dedication to artistic excellence and social dialogue, has motivated the jury to select them as laureates of the Sharjah Prize.

The award ceremony will be held in Paris, at UNESCO Headquarters, on 30 May 2022.

Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail is an American-Iraqi poet. Born in Baghdad, she worked as a translator and journalist before immigrating to the United States in 1996, where she earned an MA at Wayne State University. Her powerful writing, translation, poetry, and prose (in Arabic and in English translation) speak to the horrors and hardships of war, migration and loss of country, and the complexities that accompany it. The nuance of Mikhail’s work, particularly her poetry, is fueled by a deep sense of identity: as a refugee, an artist, and a woman. Her first book published in English, The War Works Hard (2005), translated by Elizabeth Winslow, was selected as one of the 25 Best Books of 2005 by the New York Public Library.

Helen Al-Janabi

Helen Al-Janabi is a Swedish actress of Syrian-Iraqi origin, living in Stockholm since 2009. After her acting education at the Theater Academy in Damascus, she participated in several films, TV series, and theater productions in the Middle East. Her work, encompassing themes of displacement, forced exile, language, and social cohesion, reflects her lived experience as a Syrian refugee. In 2015, she founded Arabiska Teatern, Europe's first and only professional Arabic-speaking theater group. Arabiska Teatern has produced five plays in Arabic and performed more than 400 times in Sweden

About the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Created in 1998 and run by UNESCO at the initiative of the United Arab Emirates, it rewards each year two laureates – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavor to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture. The initiative is part of UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Programme, and the Prize carries a monetary value of $60,000, which are equally divided between the two laureates.

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