JAKARTA, PALESTINOW.COM – Some of the Arab world’s most well-known authors have demanded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction cut ties with the UAE, to maintain the prize’s independence, and in protest against Abu Dhabi’s decision to normalise ties with Israel.
Palestinian academic and author Khaled Hroub was a founding member of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, but says he can no longer be affiliated with the award as long as it is funded by the United Arab Emirates. Mr Hroub resigned in protest at the UAE’s agreement to normalise relations with Israel, calling it a “shocking and sad trade-off” for the rights of Palestinians.
“I used to have great cultural contacts in the UAE over the years, had many Emirati friends and took part in many activities, book fairs and festivals in the country. These activities have certainly contributed to the Arab cultural scene. But all this has now been thrown into uncertainty and replaced by Israel,” he says.
The author is one of a growing list of Arab authors and intellectuals calling for boycotts of UAE-funded cultural events and awards after the country abandoned a 2002 offer by Arab states to restore relations with Israel once it agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Palestinian-American comedian Amer Zahr, who was one of the signatories, says he will not perform in the UAE again. “It’s sad because the UAE has been a place where there has been a lot of great artistic events for all the diverse people that are there. But nothing is more important than our principles and normalisation with Israel is a red line. I cannot legitimise my oppressor.”