Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize (Arabic)

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize is an annual award, established by Banipal Magazine and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature, for published translations from Arabic of full-length works of imaginative and creative writing of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000.

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation (into English) was established by Banipal Magazine and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature. The prize is sponsored by Omar Saif Ghobash and the Ghobash family in memory of his father, a passionate bibliophile and is administered by the Society of Authors. 

The 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize is now closed for submissions and the winner will be announced in February 2024.

The 2022 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize Winners

Humphrey Davies for a translation of The Men Who Swallowed The Sun by Hamdi Abu Golayyel (Hoopoe: An Imprint of AUC Press)
Robin Moger for a translation of Slipping by Mohamed Kheir (Two Lines Press)

If you are interested in any of the books here please visit: Bookshop

Saif Ghobash Banipal Website

The 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize will close for submissions on 31 March 2023

  • The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2023.
  • Entries must be translations from Arabic into English.
  • Entries must have been published between 1 January 2022 and 31 March 2023.
  • The deadline for both entries and publication for the 2023 Prize is 31 March 2023.
  • Full Terms and Conditions will be listed at the start of the entry form.
  • Presented at a ceremony in 2024.

For any queries relating to the prize please contact [email protected]

2022 (presented 2023)

  • Winner: Humphrey Davies for a translation of The Men Who Swallowed the Sun (Hoopoe: An Imprint of AUC Press)
  • Winner: Robin Moger for a translation of Slipping (Two Lines Press)
  • Runner-up: Alexander E. Elinson for a translation of Hot Maroc (Syracuse University Press)

2021 (presented 2022)

  • Winner: Sarah Enany for a translation of The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly (Hoopoe an Imprint of AUC Press) 
  • Shortlisted: Sawad Hussain for a translation of A Bed for the Kings Daughter by Shahla Ujayli (Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UT Austin/UT Press)
    • Jonathan Wright for a translation of God 99 by Hassan Blasim (Comma Press)
    • Elisabeth Jaquette for a translation of The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous (Harvill Secker)
    • Marilyn Booth for a translation of Voices of the Lost by Hoda Barakat (Oneworld)

2020 (presented 2021)

  • Winner: Kay Heikkenen for a translation of Velvet by Huzama Habayeb (Hoopoe an Imprint of AUC Press)
  • Shortlisted: Jonathan Wright for a translation of The Egyptian Assassin by Ezzedine C. Fishere (Hoopoe an Imprint of AUC Press)
    • Sophia Vasalou for a translation of The Old Woman and the River by Ismail Fahd Ismail (Interlink Books)
    • Alexander E. Elinson for a translation of A Shimmering Red Fish Swims with Me by Youssef Fadel (Hoopoe an Imprint of AUC Press) 
    • Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp and Sue Copeland for a translation of Trees for the Absentees by Ahlam Bsharat (Neem Tree Press)

2019 (presented 2020)

  • Winner: Leri Price for a translation of Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (Faber & Faber)
  • Shortlisted: Marilyn Booth for a translation of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Sandstone Press)
    • Humphrey Davies for a translation of My Name is Adam: Children of the Ghetto Volume 1 by Elias Khoury (MacLehose)
    • Jonathan Wright for a translation of Jokes for the Gunman by Mazen Maarouf (Granta Books)

2018 (presented in 2019)

  • Winner: Luke Leafgren for a translation of The President’s Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli (MacLehose Press/Quercus)
  • Shortlisted: Benjamin Koerber for a translation of Using Life by Ahmed Naji and illustrated by Ayman Al Zarkany (CMES Publications UT Austin)
    • Khaled Mattawa for a translation of Concerto al-Quds by Adonis (Yale University Press)
    • Jonathan Wright for a translation of Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Oneworld)

2017 (presented 2018)

  • Winner: Robin Moger for a translation of The Book of Safety by Yasser Abdel Hafez (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC)
  • Shortlisted: Katherine Halls and Adam Talib for a translation of The Dove’s Necklace by Raja Alem (Duckworth)
    • Leri Price for a translation of No Knives in the Kitchens of This City by Khaled Khalifa (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC)
    • Anna Ziajka Stanton for a translation of Limbo Beirut by Hilal Chouman (Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas Press)

2016 (presented 2017)

  • Winner: Jonathan Wright for a translation of The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing)

2015 (presented 2016)

  • Winner: Paul Starkey for a translation of The Book of the Sultan’s Seal by Youssef Rakha (Interlink)
  • Commended: Jonathan Wright for a translation of Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation)


  • Winner: Sinan Antoon for a translation of his own novel The Corpse Washer (Yale University Press)
  • Commended: Paula Haydar for a translation of June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation)


  • Joint winners: Willian Maynard Hutchins for a translation of A Land Without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal (Garnet) and Jonathan Wright for a translation of Azazeel by Zoussef Ziedan (Atlantic).


  • Winner: Roger Allen for a translation of A Muslim Suicide by Bensalem Himmich (Syracuse University Press)
  • Commended: Humphrey Davis for a translation of I Was Born There, I Was Born Here by Mourid Barghouti (Bloomsbury)


  • Winner: Khaled Mattawa for a translation of Selected Poems by Adonis (Yale University Press)
  • Runner-up: Barbara Romaine for a translation of Spectres by Radwa Ashour (Arabia Books)
  • Commended: Maia Tabet for a translation of White Masks by Elias Khoury (Archipelago Books)


  • Winner: Humphrey Davies for a translation of Yalo by Elias Khoury (MacLehose Press)
  • Joint runners-up: Kareem James Abu-Zeid for a translation of Cities Without Palms by Tarek Eltayeb (Arabia Books) and Humphrey Davies for a transaltion of Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher (Sceptre).


  • Winner: Samah Selim for a translation of The Collar and the Bracelet by Yahya Taher Abdulla (American University in Cairo Press)
  • Joint runners-up: Elliott Colla for a transaltion of Gold Dust by Ibrahim al-Koni (Arabia Books/Haus Publishing) and Michelle Hartman for a translation of Wild Mulberries by Iman Humaydan Younes (Interlink Books).


  • Winner: Fady Joudah for a translation of The Butterfly’s Burden by Mahmoud Darwish (Bloodaxe Books)
  • Runner up: Ghassan Nasr for a translation of The Journals of Sarab Affan by Jabra Ibran Jabra (Syracuse University Press)
  • Commended: for a translation of The Man from Bashmour by Salwa Bakr (American University in Cairo Press)


  • Winner: Farouk Abdel Wahab for a transaltion ofThe Lodging House by Khairy Shalaby (American University in Cairo Press)
  • Runner up: Marilyn Booth for a translation of Thieves in Ritirement by Hamdi Abu Golayyel (Syracuse University Press)
  • Commended: Peter Theroux for a transaltion offor Saraya, the Ogre’s Daughter by Emile Habiby (Ibis)


  • Winner: Humphrey Davies for a transaltion ofGate of the Sun by Elias Khoury (Harvill Secker)
  • Runner up: Hala Halim for a translation of Clamor of the Lake by Mohamed El-Bisatie (American University in Cairo Press)


Professor Susheila Nasta
At its most powerful literature should act as an imaginative passport into other worlds, a conduit to take us inside the lives of others, inviting us for a moment to stay and be part of an unknown world. Words transport as do good translations. At their best translations also take us elsewhere, offering readers stories in cultural landscapes they would not otherwise encounter. The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation makes this journey possible.

Ros Schwartz (chair)

Award-winning translator from French of over 100 fiction and nonfiction titles

Tony Calderbank

Translator, former teacher of Arabic and translation, and for many years British Council director in South Sudan, Bahrain and Libya.

Sarah Enany

Winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize, and Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Cairo University.

Barbara Schwepke

Founder, publisher and CEO of Gingko Library, and founder of Haus Publishing.

Find out more about this year’s judges at the Banipal Trust website here.

Banipal Trust for Arab Literature

The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature was founded in September 2004 by the publisher of Banipal magazine to support and celebrate the publication of Arab authors in English translation and the production of live literature events in the UK with Arab authors.

The Trust supports the deepening and enriching of cultural dialogue between the Arab world and the West (particularly Europe and North America) in order to bring the literature of today’s Arab authors to the multicultural readership of the UK and English speakers worldwide. The Trust sees this intercultural dialogue and exchange as opening a window for a Western audience on the realities of contemporary Arab culture in all its diversity and vibrancy.

Banipal Magazine

Banipal magazine showcases contemporary Arab authors in English translation, from wherever they are writing and publishing. An independent magazine, founded in 1998 by Margaret Obank and Iraqi author Samuel Shimon, Banipal‘s three issues a year present both established and emerging Arab writers through poems, short stories or excerpts of novels, plus the occasional features of literary influences, travelling tale.

Banipal’s three cornerstones, which have been with us since then, are that Arab literature is an essential part of world culture and human civilisation; that dialogue between different cultures needs to be continually deepened; and that the joy and enlightenment to be gained from reading beautiful poetry and imaginative writing is an integral part of human existence.