The Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA), in partnership with the Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), have announced the winners of its first annual Arab Science Journalism Awards.
"It is a very exciting time for us," says Bothina Osama, the awards coordinator. "The quality of the material submitted has been inspiring."
"Through these awards, we want to give recognition to those science journalists who have excelled in covering Arab science," says Nadia El-Awady, president of the ASJA. "We also want to encourage more journalists to cover stories about science in the region."
The awards had three categories representing media in Arabic, English, and French.
In the Arabic category, the first award went to Egyptian journalist Noaman El-Zeyaty. His article, 'The Secret of the Egyptian Nuclear Program. Why Did it Stop? And Why Return?' explores the economic dangers of restarting Egypt's nuclear energy drive.
El-Zeyaty told SciDev.Net, "Science journalism in the Arab world is in sharp decline. Awards such as these will trigger journalists to write better stories."
Second place went to active blogger and journalist Soad Roudy from Morocco for her blog post 'Moroccans and YouTube: Sex, Mischief and Politics'. In her post, Roudy explains how YouTube is quickly changing the lives of Moroccans who use the technology as a tool to speak out.
Hesham Suliman, an Egyptian journalist, won the third place prize for an internet programme that guides users through the different stages of pregnancy. Suliman won for excellent use of graphics, illustrations and animations to simplify the science in 'Your Pregnancy Week by Week.'
For English language media, American journalist Kevin Begos won the award for his article 'A Universal Struggle.' Begos explains how Middle Easterners are being forced to face the realities of cancer spreading in their communities.
The final award, for French media, went to Rasha Hanafy, an Egyptian journalist for her article discussing desertification in Egypt and how climate change is affecting it.
"Such an award encourages journalists to be more professional in what they write," said Hanafy.
All the winners will receive cash prizes, a certificate of excellence from ASTF and ASJA, and a fully funded trip to the first Arab Science Journalists Conference to be held in Fez, Morocco, in October 2008.