Arab writers boycott UAE events after Israeli peace deal

“The terrible normalization of ties between Emirati politicians and the Zionist entity led me to fully and voluntarily withdraw,” said Yahya Ben El Oualid.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Moroccan writers Yahya Ben El Oualid, Zohra Ramij, Ahmed Elluizi, and Abu Youssef withdrew their entries from the UAE’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award after the Israel-UAE peace agreement was announced last month, the North Africa Post reported.

El Oualid said that he informed organizers that “the terrible normalization of ties between Emirati politicians and the Zionist entity led me to fully and voluntarily withdraw in a modest gesture of solidarity with the Palestinians.”

Ramij tweeted that she was withdrawing her novel from the competition in solidarity with the Palestinian people “in their struggle to regain their usurped land and establish their free and independent state.”

In addition, Moroccan poet Mohamed Bennis announced his resignation from the competition’s organizing committee.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is “one of the Arab World’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes,” with cash awards totaling 1.9 million dollars per year.

Kuwaiti author Abdullah Salloum also announced that he is boycotting the UAE and withdrawing from all of its cultural events.

Palestinian Arab author Ahmed Abu Salim announced in a tweet that he is withdrawing from the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which is funded by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

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He also announced his boycott of all cultural activities in the UAE, and called on all Arab intellectuals to join him.

Novelist Issa Qawasmeh from Jerusalem announced the cancellation his book signing event which was to be held this year in Sharjah, north of Dubai.

Berlin-based photographer Mohamed Badarne, who was born in the northern Israeli city of Arraba, announced his withdrawal from the Vantage Point Sharjah 8 photography exhibit.

In his letter to the Sharjah Art Foundation, Badarne spoke of “the Israeli occupation state, which continues to oppress and deprive the rights of my people in Palestine and the Arab communities.”

He said, “Following my belief that art, unless engaged with human causes and justice, has no value, I announce withdrawing my participation in your scheduled exhibition.”

On August 14, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, in response to “the UAE dictatorship’s treason,” called on all Arabs to boycott “all activities, festivals and projects sponsored by the UAE regime, including the Dubai EXPO, the Dubai Shopping Festival, as well as sports, cultural and economic/financial festivals and conferences.”