1996 News Story

King Faisal Prize winners announced

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Director-General of the King Faisal Foundation, last night announced the names of the winners of the King Faisal International Prize for this year as follows:

Service to Islam: Dr. Abdulrahman Bin Hamoud Al-Sumait of Kuwait.
Islamic Studies: Dr. Akram Dhia Ahmed Al-Omeri of Iraq.
Arabic Literature: Sheikh Hamad Bin Muhammad Al-Jassir of Saudi Arabia.
Medicine: Professor Bengt A. Robertson of Sweden and Professor Tetsuro Fujiwara of Japan.
Biology: Professor Gunter Blobel of the United States; Dr. Hugh R.B. Pelham, of the United Kingdom;  and Dr. James E. Rothman of the United States.

In addition to a cash endowment of SR 750,000 (U.S. $ 200,000) each laureate receives a 22-carat gold medallion 70.9 mm across, weighing 200 grams.

Speaking on the occasion, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal referred to the high reputation earned by the King Faisal International Prize, which has been named one of the top four such prizes in the world.  In organizing the prize, its founders honor the name of King Faisal, who was dedicated to the service of Arab and Muslim causes.  In addition to the prize, the King Faisal Foundation annually offers 40 scholarships for students from Islamic countries to pursue higher studies in the USA and in Europe, as well as contributing to charitable works and setting up mosques, schools, cultural centers, clinics and hospitals in the Muslim world.  The Foundation’s annual budget is around SR 50-60 million (about U.S. $ 1.5 million).

Dr. Al-Sumait, who won the prize for Service to Islam, was the founder of the Kuwaiti Relief Committee, and is now director of field operations for the Committee for African Muslims which he also founded, working relentlessly under difficult conditions to serve the poor and the destitute.  Under his leadership, the committee has constructed more than 1,000 mosques, 54 hospitals, and 840 schools in addition to a number of Islamic Centers.  It has also drilled 760 artesian wells and hundreds of surface wells in drought-stricken areas.   The committee has distributed 3.5 million copies of the Holy Qur’an, and printed and distributed 6.5 million manuals explaining Islam in native African languages.   In addition, the committee has held 130 training courses for African teachers and preachers, provided financial support for 8,500 orphans, paid the tuition fees for 74,000 needy students, and financed over 200 post-graduate scholarships in medicine, engineering, technology and the sciences.

Professor Al-Omeri won the Islamic Studies prize for his “Authoritative History of the Prophet Muhammad” which contains exhaustive analyses and interpretations of the events in the Prophet’s life.   This well-researched document, which has been translated into English and other languages, is a valuable source of information for research.   He has also authored several books on the lives of the caliphs.

Sheikh Al-Jassir, winner of the Arabic Literature prize, has written some 1,200 articles and numerous books dealing with various aspects of society on the Arabian peninsula.  The prize recognizes his excellent analytical studies and reviews of more than 30 works by early Arab travelers and pilgrims, best exemplified by his highly academic three-volume study of the sixteenth century ‘Ad-Durar Al-Faraid’ by Abdul-Gadir Al-Jaziri and by his study of the ‘Kitab Al-Manasik’, attributed to Al-Harbi in the eighth century.

The Medicine Prize was awarded to Professor Robertsson of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm and Professor Fujiwara of the University of Aiowit, in recognition of their pioneering studies into the etiology, prevention and treatment of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), a major cause of death in premature infants.

The Science Prize for Biology was awarded to Professor Blobel of Rockefeller University, Dr. Pelham of Britain’s Medical Research Council, and Dr. Rothman of the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, for their distinguished research in the sorting and targeting of protein and protein transport.