Arabic – Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize is an annual award of £3,000, 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 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. 

2020 winner  

Kay Heikkenen for her translation of Velvet by Huzama Habayeb (Hoopoe an imprint of AUC Press)

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize is currently closed for entries. It will reopen for the 2022 round in September 2021.

  • Entries must be translations from Arabic into English.
  • Entries must have been published between April 2021 and March 2022.
  • The deadline for both entries and publication for the 2021 Prize is 31 March 2021.
  • Full Terms and Conditions will be listed at the start of the entry form.
  • Presented at a ceremony in 2022.

For any queries relating to the prize please contact

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)