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Sudanese actor and French professor win annual UN Arab culture prize

7 April 2011 – The United Nations cultural agency announced today that it is awarding its annual Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture to Sudanese actor and theatre director Ali Mahdi Nouri and French professor Cherif Khaznadar.

The prize, funded by the emirate of Sharjah and awarded by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), honours individuals, groups or institutions that have made a significant contribution to the development, dissemination and promotion of Arab culture worldwide, as well as the conservation and revitalization of Arab intangible heritage.

Seven years ago Mr. Nouri founded the Al-Bugaa Theatre, which travels around conflict zones in Sudan and stages plays performed by child soldiers and war orphans. His creations, inspired by Sudanese cultural heritage, comprise various narration techniques as well as folklore and pantomime, according to a UNESCO news release.

“This work uses the Arab language and culture – notably songs and stories – as strengths upon which the young actors can rebuild their lives,” stated the international jury that examined the nominations for the award.

Professor Khaznadar, who is also a theatre director, poet and novelist, runs the Maison des cultures du monde in Paris that he founded in 1982.

The jury noted the pride of place he has given Arab cultural events in the programme of the Maison des cultures du monde, and cited his invaluable contribution to “the dialogue between Arab culture and other cultures for nearly 50 years.”

A monetary prize of $30,000 each and the awards will be presented to the two laureates in a ceremony on 15 April.

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