The Culture Ministry on Monday announced that the recipients of the 2017 Appreciation State Award are Father Elias Zahlawi who received the award for criticism, studies, and translation, singer Mayyada al-Hennawi who received the award for the arts), and writer Hassan M. Yousef who received the award for literature.
In a statement to SANA, Father Zahlawi expressed thanks for receiving this commendation, affirming that he only did his duty as a Syrian citizen as a cosmic war targets Syria and seeks to erase it from the past, present, and future.
He also called for establishing research centers in Syria covering various sectors and rally all skilled people.
Zahlawi was born in Damascus in 1932. He studied theology and philosophy in Jerusalem and was ordained in Damascus in 1959, teaching in various schools and in higher institutes where he taught Latin, translation, French, and history of theatre.
In the field of arts, Zahlawi conducted the cathedral choir until 1966. He co-founded a theatrical troupe and wrote three plays including one on the Arab-Israeli conflict, in addition to 20 books, and he also founded Al-Farah Choir that includes more than 600 performers and that held performances in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and the United States.
In a similar statement, singer al-Hennawi said she is glad to receive this award in her home country Syria where hundreds of Syrians sacrificed their lives in the war against terrorism, adding that she is proud to be honored along prominent figures like Zahlawi and Yousef.
Al-Hennawi was born in Aleppo, and she was nicknamed “singer of the generation,” earning a place among the top female Arab singers. She collaborated with great musicians of her time like Mohammad Abdelwahab, Mohammad al-Moji, Mohammad Sultan, Helmi Bakr, and Baligh Hamdi.
Likewise, writer Yousef said that the significance of this award lies in the fact that it comes from Syria and Damascus, voicing gratitude for Syria, the award committee, and the Ministry for remembering him in these difficult times.
Yosuef was born in al-Dalia village in Lattakia countryside in 1948. He worked as culture editor and satirical columnist in Tishreen newspaper, and he currently writes for al-Watan newspaper. He penned several stories, TV series, and articles, and held debates with prominent local and international cultural figures. In 2014, he was ranked among the top 100 influential Arab figures by Arabian Business Magazine.
The Appreciation State Awards consists of a gold medal, a certificate, and SYP 1 million which are presented to the winners in a ceremony held at a later date. The 2016 awards went to actress Salma al-Masri, writer Nadia Khost, writer Mohammad Hassan Qeja.