Born in a village near Damer (Sudan) in 1921 and educated at Cambridge University in the UK, the late Professor Abd Allah Al-Tayyeb had a remarkable academic career of more than half a century, during which he emerged as one of the most prominent scholars of Arabic literature and language in the 20th Century.
The versatility of Al-Tayyib’s works is best exemplified by his groundbreaking book: A Guide to Understanding Arabic Poetry, an enormous Arabic text, written over a 35-year period. The first three volumes are regarded as the most thorough analysis known of the composition, rhythm, unity and other features of Arabic poetry since pre-Islamic eras. The fourth volume – a landmark text of over 1,500 pages – includes exhaustive details of the role of both ancient and modern Arab literary critics, the development of the Arabic poem through the centuries and its impact on European poets from Dante to Andrew Marvel, Blake and the Romantic poets. Professor Al-Tayyeb wrote hundreds of other books and scholarly and literary articles in Arabic and English, covering Arabic poetry, prose, anthology and literary criticism, In addition to his own poems, novels, plays and children stories. he also contributed several entries to the British Encyclopedia on prominent modern Arab writers and poets. His other English texts include Heroes of Arabia and Stories from the Sands of Arabia. His radio program on the interpretation and linguistic wonders of the Holy Qur’an continued for 35 years.
Professor Al-Tayyeb was also a prominent academician and administrator. He was Dean of the College of Arts at Khartoum University and subsequently Vice-Chancellor of Khartoum and Juba Universities in the Sudan. After his retirement, he was appointed Professor Emeritus at Khartoum University. He also served as President of the Arab Language Academy in Khartoum and member of the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo, and was professor, visiting professor or invited lecturer at several African and Arab universities and other learned institutions. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Literature, Al-Tayyib’s contributions were recognized by a host of prizes, medals and honorary doctorates. He died in 2003.
Professor Abd-Allah at-Tayyib (Sudan) and Professor lzz ad-Din Ismail Abd Al-Ghani (Egypt) were awarded the prize for their distinguished contribution in the field of Arabic literary criticism. Their published works were widely recognized as a leading authority in their field as exemplified by their very well-known studies which exerted wide influence in this field.