Egyptian Scholar Youssef Zidan - Press photo
CAIRO - 15 September 2019: On a major cultural evening, a group of intellectuals from across the Arab world gathered at the launching of the first edition of Youssef Zidan Forum for Arab Culture.
Writer and storyteller Tayseer el-Naggar won the creations of young people award for the 2019 edition for her second story collection “Came with love” published by the General Authority for Cultural Palaces.
Zidan stated that the idea of the forum emerged 8 years ago, when Egypt was going through a critical moment because of the January 25 revolution. However, Zidan resisted the idea of creating a cultural forum in his name for many reasons, including avoiding the harsh criticism and allegations of the people with “sick souls who emerged and grew in the time of turmoil,” as he described.
The prominent scholar further stated,"I got to know Asia Kassim after the outbreak of the January revolution, where she came to Alexandria with a select Arab group of 350 individuals to host cultural seminars. I then asked her what to do? She said,'support Egypt.' This is why this lady has a special place in my heart. After this incident, we met numerous times mostly in Egypt."
"Kassim is keen to establish Arab gatherings for people from different Arab countries through charities and forums. She then proposed the idea of adding a cultural aspect to her activities, but I was not excited to have an Arab cultural forum in my name. I said that this is not appropriate, but Kassim had already submitted the forum’s papers in Beirut," continued Zidan.
“After several months, the forum became a reality and now she cannot change the name. I hardly accepted. We started organizing cultural seminars in the framework of the forum, until the idea of the award came. Kassim is also the creator of the award. I accepted and my only condition was not to be supported by a state or an institution that might impose a special orientation on us. She informed me that the award would be granted with the support of friends involved in her various activities, which are extended in a number of Arab countries.”
Kassim is keen to highlight the very deep links between Arabs that can overcome political differences, and that despite those differences, the Arab common culture prevails as Arabs will always be facing one fate,”Zidan concluded.
“From this perspective I saw and agreed that this award should be dedicated to Arab youth, considering that young people in crowded Arab countries suffer from lack of attention. This award was to inform young people in the Arab world that there are those who think about them and is preoccupied with this needs and concerns.”
“The award will be granted to the winners of each edition of the forum in a different Arab country. Kassim insisted that the forum’s first edition is to be held in Cairo.” conluded the prominent writer.
On September 22, 2018, the organizers of the Youssef Zidan Forum for Arab Culture announced the start of applying for the “Youth Literary Creativity Award” with its three branches in the fields of novel, short story, poetry. The winner will be granted the forum’s shield of creativity and LE 100,000.
The meeting was attended Youssef Zidan the President of the Forum, Asia Kassim, actress Aida Riyad, among others.
The next edition of the award will be dedicated to young Syrian creators in the literary fields of novels, poetry and storybooks, whether they are residing inside or outside of Syria.