The Asiatic society will award the Tagore Peace Prize to renowned Arab poet Shihab Ghanem, reported the WAM agency Wednesday.
The peace prize is named after Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali creative talent and India's first Nobel laureate. Ghanem is the first-ever Arab to receive the prestigious award.
He spoke to Al Arabiya saying “I was extremely pleased to be selected, especially as the award is associated with Tagore whom I highly admire and who is highly respected by Arabs and the world at large”.
Organized by the Indian government, the award recognized Ghanem’s countless forays into the world of literature. His translation of Indian works into both the Arabic and English language was also appreciated.
The award is given to one person every two years. Ghanem was chosen due to the promotion of the human values of love and peace via his poetic works.
“I have read poetry almost every day throughout my life. It was a kind of addiction, and perhaps still is,” confessed Ghanem, who as a primary school student found himself fond of the art form.
Ghanem said he was led to poetry by his father, brother and uncle, who have each published their own verses.
Ghanem has done his family proud by writing 31 Arabic poems and 36 English poems. He has also published 45 books mainly in Arabic verse.
Prior to winning the Tagore Peace Prize, Ghanem received a plethora of awards and commendations. Examples include the Rashid Award for Scientific Excellence in 1989, 1st prize for poetry in the UAE in 1984, and book prize from the Ruler of Sharjah for poetry translation in 2003 and 2007.
The Emirati-poet holds a double degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from Aberdeen, earned in 1964. He completed his education with a Masters and a Ph.D. in Economics from Wales.
Ghanem has shared advice for budding poets, urging them to make the best use of their time.
“Work for your first life as if you will live forever, and for your hereafter as if you will die tomorrow,” he said.
Ghanem will officially receive the Tagore award in a ceremony to be held in Kolkata, India on May 6, 2012.