Book Prize 2021 – Judges

The judging panel for the 2021 Peter Mackenzie Smith Book Prize is as follows:

Dr Noel Brehony (Chairman) is a former President of the British Society of Middle East Studies and former Chair of the Judges for Kuwait British Friendship Society prize for the best book published on the Middle East. He knows Egypt well as a former diplomat ( with four years in Cairo), Director of Middle East affairs for Rolls-Royce, Chairman of Menas Associates and BES committee member. He is currently chair of the International Association for the Study of Arabia and has chaired the Council for British Research in the Levant. He was co-editor of British Egyptian Relations from Suez to the Present Day (Saqi, 2007) based on a conference organised by SOAS and the British Egyptian Society. He has authored a book and edited or co-edited several others on Yemen.

Dr Omniya Abdel Barr is an architect specialised in Islamic art and architecture. She has experience in urban conservation, monument restoration and cultural heritage documentation and digitisation. She is currently the Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, leading the digitisation project on K.A.C. Creswell’s photographic collections. In Cairo, she is working with the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation on projects dedicated to rescue Historic Cairo’s architectural heritage and preserve traditional crafts.

Professor Doris Behrens-Abouseif is Egyptian, studied in Egypt and Germany and held the Nasser D Khalili Chair of Islamic Art and Archaeology at SOAS (University of London) from 2000 to 2014. Her list of publications covers a wide range of subjects from the early period to the 19th century with focus on Egypt and Syria, the history of Islamic architecture and urbanism, cultural history, concepts of aesthetics, material culture and the decorative arts. She has been member of the Academia Europaea since 2006. She has published over seventy articles and a dozen books including Beauty in Arabic Culture (Princeton 1999), Cairo of the Mamluks (London and Cairo, 2007), The Minarets of Cairo (London and Cairo, 2010), Practising Diplomacy in the Mamluk Sultanate: Gifts and Material Culture in the Medieval Islamic World (London, 2014 and 2016), The Book in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (1250-1517). Scribes, Libraries and Market (Leiden and Boston, 2018).

Dr. Claire Spencer  is an independent consultant and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Policy Institute, King’s College London. She was previously Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), London, having  advised policymakers and the private sector on security, economic and political developments in the Middle East and North Africa for over thirty years. Claire has published and spoken extensively on the geopolitics of the region, and has a growing interest in the role of new technologies and climate change in reshaping the landscape of the MENA region and its international links in coming years.

Anthony Sattin is a journalist and broadcaster, and the author of several highly acclaimed books of history and travel in Egypt. These include Lifting the Veil, a history of travellers in Egypt from 1768 to 1956 and A Winter on the Nile, an account of parallel journeys to Egypt made in 1849 by Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert, which was a book of the year in the FT, Telegraph, Independent and other publications. Anthony’s award-winning journalism on culture and travel has appeared regularly in the Sunday Times, Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller and publications around the world. His literary criticism has featured in a range of publications from the TLS and Spectator to the Wall Street Journal and the Sunday Times, for whom he contributed a book column for ten years. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Royal Society of Literature, editorial advisor on Geographical Magazine, contributing editor on Conde Nast Traveller, a member of the Egypt Exploration Society and a founder-member of ASTENE (the Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East). Jan Morris described him as ‘‘our premier Egypto-litterateur.’

Noel Rands, Secretary of the British Egyptian Society will act as administrator for the Prize.