Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, whose kingdom has been one of the strongest supporters of the Middle East’s deadliest war has been named as the as the cultural personality of the year by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award team.
Ali bin Tamim, secretary general of the awards, said the decision to choose King Abdullah came as a result of his many cultural achievements.
“We are honored to present the award to King Abdullah and that is for his great intellectual, scientific and humanitarian achievements,” he said.
The Sheikh Zayed Book Awards honor intellectuals, researchers and writers who have made significant contributions to promoting culture and knowledge.
The award was established in memory of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the principal architect of United Arab Emirates, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE for over 30 years (1971–2004). The first award was in 2007.
The total value of the prizes is AD7,000,000 making it one of the richest literary awards in the world.
King Abdullah who is suffering from a poor health condition, has a personal fortune estimated at US$18 billion, making him the third wealthiest head of state in the world.He has had over 30 wives, and has fathered more than 40 children.
The award is given to King Abdullah at a time that Riyadh is facing international criticism over its financial and military support to hundreds of extremist groups fighting in Syria to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Wahhabi kingdom has also been cracking down on pro-democratic and social protests since the so-called Arab Spring started in 2011, even one that aimed at letting women drive cars in the streets.