Under the auspices of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, King Faisal Prize award ceremony will be held on December 28 in Riyadh to honor the laureates of 2020 and 2021. Ten top-notch scholars, scientists, innovators, and thought leaders, who have made outstanding and groundbreaking discoveries and contributions in the fields of: Service to Islam, Islamic studies, Arabic Language and Literature, Medicine, and Science, will meet in Riyadh to receive their King Faisal Prize in its 5 different categories.
The Service to Islam prize laureate for 2020 is The Makkah Charter, a historic constitution enshrining the values of coexistence and peace among various religions and cultures.
The 2021 Service to Islam prize laureate is Mr. Mohamed Abdulrahman Al-Sharikh, Chairman of Sakhr Software Company, who has played a prominent role in instilling the spirit of research, creativity, and innovation to preserve the heritage of the Muslim community through the production of the first software for the Holy Qur’an. He has also been a pioneer in developing different computer programs for Arabic language like the contemporary electronic dictionary, the Arabic editor program, the automated Arabic pronunciation program, and the Arabic e-translation program.
The Islamic Studies prize for 2020 on “Islamic Heritage of Al Quds” will be received by Dr. Mohammed Hashim Ghosheh, a historian and an architect who has contributed to more than 150 research works and studies about Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and its Arabo-Islamic heritage. He has also authored some 37 historical and documentary books on Al-Quds Al-Sharif highlighting its historical, intellectual, architectural, and heritage values. His most outstanding “Encyclopedia of Palestine” in English contains extensive material regarding Jerusalem.
The Islamic Studies prize for year 2021 on Endowment in Islam; however, is withheld.
As for the Arabic Language and Literature prize, Professor Michael Carter is the 2020 laureate for the topic “Linguistic Studies on Arabic in Other Languages”. His research into Arabic linguistics, which span over 50 years, is considered one of the most significant contributions to the study of the Arabic grammatical tradition and a key resource for linguistic research outside the Arab world.
Professor Mohamed Mechbal, a professor of rhetoric and literary criticism at Abdul-Malik al-Saadi University, Morocco, is the 2021 laureate in Arabic Language and Literature. His work, which is characterized by depth, novelty, and originality, aligns with this year’s prize category’s theme “The New Rhetoric”. Inspired by his vision which calls for renewal, his works have sought to link rhetorical research to the fields of literature, language, and communication, and have laid the foundation for the inception of modern Arab rhetoric.
The hematologist-oncologist and geneticist Stuart Orkin, M.D., David G. Nathan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is the 2020 Medicine laureate in the topic of “Haemoglobinopathies”. His pioneering discoveries of the genetic underpinnings of blood disorders have guided encouraging therapies for inherited blood disorders that affect millions of people around the world with thalassemia and sickle cell disease. These discoveries have also revolutionized the understanding around how such illnesses occur.
The 2021 Medicine laureates are two professors sharing the prize for their works on “Regenerative Medicine in Neurological Conditions”. The laureate Robin James Franklin is the professor of Stem Cell Medicine at the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the Director of the UK MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair at the University of Cambridge. The laureate Stephen Mark Strittmatter is a professor of Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine, and the Founding Director of Yale Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair Program, Yale Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and Yale Memory Disorders Clinic.
Professor Franklin has made outstanding contributions to the biology of “myelin” (an insulating fatty layer that forms around nerves to allow electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently) leading to important applications for clinical neurology, especially “multiple sclerosis”. He has been a pioneer in the biology of “remyelination” (regenerating myelin), an area in which he is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading expert.
Professor Strittmatter has made significant contributions to the field of neural repair and the molecular understanding of failed axonal growth and limited recovery following spinal cord injury. He has worked on Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other disorders of memory functions, and has translated his discoveries to develop new therapeutic approaches to achieve regeneration in the central nervous system.
Science laureates for years 2020 (Biology) and 2021 (Physics) are Professor Xiaodong Wang; the Director of the National Institute of Biological Sciences at Beijing, and Professor Stuart Stephen Parkin; the Director at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics at Halle, Germany, respectively.
Professor Xiaodong Wang’s unique work has changed the understanding of how cell death is regulated in growing and mature organisms and has contributed to new insights for the therapeutic modulation of cell death for treating life threatening diseases.
Professor Stuart Parkin’s fundamental discoveries and innovations in the field of spintronics have revolutionized computers resulting in 1,000-fold increase in the storage capacity of magnetic disk drives. His research facilitated sharing films and pictures via networks or computer clouds, making them available to groups of networked computers and enabling the “big data revolution”. His work helped solve intractable problems that depend on fast access to vast quantities of data through machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Since 1979, King Faisal Prize has awarded over 270 laureates from more than 40 different nationalities who have made distinguished contributions to serving Islam, Muslims, and humanity at large, and who have conducted outstanding research and made pivotal discoveries and findings in major fields of Science, Medicine, Islamic Studies, and Arabic Language & Literature.
Each prize category out of the 5 different categories is endowed with SAR 750 thousand (an equivalent of USD200 thousand); a 24 carat gold medal, weighing 200 grams, with one side bearing the liking of King Faisal and the prize category written in Arabic, and the other side holding the logo of the prize and the prize category in English; and a Certificate written in Arabic calligraphy signed by the Chairman of the Prize board, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, inscribed with the Laureate’s name and a summary of his/her work which qualified him/her for the prize.