The annual awards ceremony of the King Faisal Prize (KFP) is one of the most important events of the King Faisal Foundation (KFF), a philanthropic organization established in 1976G / 1396H by the sons and daughters of the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz in commemoration of their father. A year from that date, the General Secretariat decided to incept an international prize in the name of King Faisal. The Prize started with three branches; Service to Islam, Islamic Studies and Arabic Language and Literature which were granted for the first time in 1979G/1399H.
In 1981G/1401H, a prize in Medicine was added and was awarded the following year. In 1982G/1402H, another prize was included in the field of Science and was awarded in 1984G/1404H. These two additions contributed significantly to the prize’s international standing, and made it gain more fame and success.
In awarding the Service to Islam prize, the selection committee recognizes individuals and institutions with outstanding records of service to Islam and Muslims, worldwide. For the Islamic studies, Arabic Language and Literature and Medicine prizes, the respective selection committees designate specific topics each year. Topics in Islamic Studies highlight areas of importance in Muslim society; Arabic Language and Literature topics relate to specialized areas within the discipline. Subjects in Medicine reflect current areas of international human health concern. The Science subcategories cover a broader scope: physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics.
The General Secretariat of KFP invites Islamic organizations, universities, scientific institutions and other learned circles, as well as previous laureates, to nominate outstanding candidates for each of the five prize categories. Nominations from individuals and political parties are not accepted.
Winners of the Prize for Service to Islam are chosen directly by the respective selection committee. For other Prize categories, pre-selection by peer reviewers is carried out, followed by detailed scrutiny of the works of short-listed nominees by highly specialized referees appropriate to each discipline. Autonomous, international, and specialist selection committees are then convened at the headquarters of King Faisal Foundation in Riyadh each year to review the referees’ reports and make their final decisions. This year’s awards bring the total number of laureates to 253 distinguished individuals from 43 countries.
The names of the winners are usually announced in the month of January and the award ceremonies are held within three months of the announcement. The occasion is held under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques the King of Saudi Arabia or his representative and is attended by dignitaries, intellectuals, academicians, scientists and literati.
Merit alone governs the selection of winners of King Faisal Prize, granting the Prize distinction of being among the most prestigious of international awards to scholars and scientists. It is therefore not surprising that many laureates went on to receive other prestigious prizes, including 18 laureates who received Nobel Prizes after being awarded King Faisal Prize.
The King Faisal Prize officials put ample efforts in applying the prize bylaws while cooperating with individuals and scientific institutions involved in the nomination and selection processes both nationally and internationally. This arrangement has bestowed a great reputation and fame on the prize. It is through this prize that the King Faisal Foundation expresses its appreciation to its outstanding laureates whose works have benefitted Islam, Muslims and humanity at large.
Establishment of the KFP
In the month of Ramadan 1397H (1977G), His Royal Highness, Prince Abd Allah Al-Faisal, may Allah have mercy upon him, announced that the Board of Trustees of the King Faisal Foundation decided to establish an international prize bearing the name of King Faisal. A month later, Professor Dr. Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al-Dhobaib was appointed Secretary General of the Prize and Mr. Youssef Aqeel Al-Hamdan, was appointed Deputy Secretary General (under administrative decisions 5897 and 5898 respectively, dated 22/7/1402H).
It was decided that the Prize would start with three branches: Service to Islam, Islamic Studies and Arabic Literature, granting its first awards in 1979G/1399H.
A KFP Committee was formed to set the regulations and internal framework of the Prize. The first meeting of the Selection Committees was held on the third of Dhul-Qi'dah of the year 1397H (22/07/1977G) where the committees decided upon two topics in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language and Literature. For that occasion, a grand celebration was held under the auspices of His Royal Highness – Crown Prince at that time – Prince Fahd Bin Abd Al-Aziz.
In the month of Rabii Al-Awwal of year 1399H/1979G, the Selection Committees held meetings to select winners amongst the nominees. Sheikh Abou Alaa’la A-Mawdudi was awarded the Service to Islam prize and Professor Fuad Sizkin was awarded the Islamic Studies prize while the Arabic Language and Literature prize was withheld.
In 1401H/1981G, the Board of Trustees of the King Faisal Foundation added two branches to the three previous categories: one in medicine which was first awarded in 1982G/1402H, and the other in science, which was first awarded in 1984G/1404H. This addition emphasized the international quality of the prize, and made it earn more fame and success.
- Ingraining Islamic values and ideals in the society and highlighting them to the world.
- Serving Islam and Muslims culturally, intellectually and practically.
- Benefiting Muslims in their present and future, and inspiring them to develop and participate in all aspects of civilization.
- Contributing to the development of mankind and enriching human knowledge.
About King Faisal and KFP Vision "From a speech made by His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Alfaisal"
“The greatness of a nation is not measured by the size of its material possessions, but by its role in the progress of mankind. The Islamic nation has established its prominent place in history not through its material resources, but through its vast contributions to the present civilization.
Similarly, the greatness of an individual is not the result of noble descent, but of accomplishments and purpose in life. These were the principles for which Faisal bin Abd Al-Aziz lived, and for which he was martyred. Not only was he a great monarch but also a great missionary of justice and peace, a man of purpose, intellect and passion.
The establishment of The King Faisal Foundation, and the inception of The King Faisal Prize as one of the Foundation’s projects, drew from the humanitarian and noble values of Islam, which King Faisal held throughout his life. The Prize seeks to realize some of his aspirations for the progress of mankind, and particularly his desire to emphasize the role of Arabs and Muslims towards that progress.”
KFP General Secretariat
The General Secretariat of the King Faisal Prize is the executive body of the prize’s administration. Its tasks include:
- Updating information about institutions, universities and learned circles that will be invited to nominate.
- Sending invitations to nominate to universities, Islamic institutions, scientific organizations, research centers, learned circles and former KFIP laureates around the world.
- Announcing conditions for nomination in local and international media and specialized periodicals in all prize branches.
- Receiving nominations and ensuring their compliance with nomination conditions.
- Inviting peer reviewers to examine the nominations and eliminate those not fulfilling nomination criteria and standards.
- Selecting international referees to evaluate short-listed nominations and make detailed reports and recommendations within 3 months.
- Appointing Selection Committee members for each prize branch and inviting them to meet in Riyadh, examine referees’ reports and select winners.
- Arranging award ceremonies and inviting dignitaries, academics, scientists, intellectuals and other relevant guests to the ceremony.
- Providing information on KFP and its winners to the media.
In awarding the Service to Islam prize, the selection committee recognizes individuals and institutions with outstanding records worldwide of service to Islam and Muslims. For the Islamic studies, Arabic Language and Literature and Medicine prizes, the respective selection committees designate specific topics each year. The Science prize has 4 topics which rotate every year.
The year 1976G/1396H was the year which witnessed the establishment of the King Faisal Foundation by the sons and daughters of King Faisal Bin Abd Al-Aziz in commemoration of their father. Since its inception, the Foundation has pledged to be a philanthropic organization of global dimensions. Therefore, honoring individuals who rendered exceptional services to Islam as well as intellectuals and scientists who have enriched human knowledge and contributed to the welfare of mankind was at the top of its priorities. In the month of Sha’ban 1397H/1977G His Royal Highness Prince Abd Allah Al-Faisal announced that the Foundation’s Board of Trustees’ decided to establish an international prize in honor of the late King Faisal, may Allah have mercy upon him, and that the first of its prizes would be awarded in year 1979G/1399H.
In Ramadan 1397H/1977G, a General Secretariat of KFP was formed, chaired by Professor Dr. Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al-Dhobaib, with Mr. Youssef Bin Aqeel Al-Hamdan as Deputy Secretary General, in order to lay down its organizational framework and internal statutes. With the assistance of universities, scientific institutions and Islamic organizations, lists of names of scientific committee members were prepared. It was seen that the prize should come in three branches; Service to Islam, Islamic Studies and Arabic Language and Literature, with specific topics each year for the latter two prizes determined.
In the month of Rabi’ Alawwal of the year 1399H (May, 1979G), the Selection Committees of the three Prize branches held meetings to select the winners.
In year 1401H/1981G, the King Faisal Foundation Board of Trustees decided to add two more prizes, one in the field of medicine and the other in science. This addition emphasized the internationality of the prize, leading it to gain more fame and success.
However, what gave the Prize respect from an Arab, Islamic and International perspective was mainly the dedication of the Prize’s patrons and their truthfulness and absolute neutrality in selecting the winners.
The Secretary General, his Deputy and co-workers in the General Secretariat pursued their work with vigor and enthusiasm bringing the prize to a success. During the final session of the Selection Committees meetings in 1986G/1406H, the Chairman of the Prize Committee, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al-Faisal announced that Dr. Ahmad Al-Dhobaib would resign as a Secretary General due to his new obligations as Rector of King Saud University which required his full time effort. Mr. Youssef Aqeel Al-Hamdan continued his work as KFP Deputy Secretary General, until a few months later when Professor Dr. Abd Allah Bin Saleh Al-Uthaimin was appointed Secretary General of KFP, succeeding Professor Al-Dhobaib.
On the 1st of Ramadan 1436H (18/06/2015G) Dr. Abdulaziz Alsebail was appointed as the new Secretary-General of King Faisal Prize.
Each of the five prize categories is comprised of:
- A Certificate written in Arabic calligraphy and signed by the Chairman of the Prize board, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Bin Abd Al-Aziz, enclosed in a binder of the finest leather inscribed with the winner’s name and a summary of his/ her work which qualified him/her for the prize.
- 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 holding the logo of the prize and the Prize category in English.
- A check of SAR 750 thousand (an equivalent of USD 200 thousand), distributed equally between the winners if they are more than one.
- HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Bin Abd Al-Aziz, Director of the King Faisal Foundation, Chairman
- HRH Prince Abdulrahman bin Abd Allah Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Amr bin Mohammad Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Bandar bin Khaled Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Mohammad bin Saud Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Saud bin Abdulrahman Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Faisal bin Turki Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Turki bin Saad Al-Faisal, Member
- HRH Prince Sultan bin Bandar Al-Faisal, Member
- Dr. Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Sabti
- Dr. Ismail bin Mohammed Al-Bishri
- Dr. Nabil bin Abdulqadir Koshak
Dr. Abdulaziz Alsebail, Secretary-General of King Faisal Prize
- HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Bin Abd Al-Aziz, Chairman of King Faisal Prize Board
- Dr. Abdulaziz Alsebail, Secretary-General of King Faisal Prize
- Mr. Ibrahim Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hadlag, Vice Secretary General of King Faisal Prize
Nominations for the Prize
They are made by Islamic organizations, scientific institutions, universities, research centers, scientific and language councils and others. Nominations made by individuals and political parties are not accepted.
Selection of Prize Winners
The selection of winners of the King Faisal Prize is made on the basis of absolute merit in the discipline to which each prize belongs. In order to achieve this, the nomination is brought forth through several evaluations in order processes to determine its worthiness of the award.
- Nominations are made by scientific and academic institutions in the field related to each prize category.
- The General Secretariat of KFP sorts these nominations to ensure compliance with the prize’s general conditions, excluding those which do not fulfill the conditions.
- The nominations are then examined by specialized experts in the topics of the prize branches for peer reviewing and short listing to the highest standard.
- The nominations are sent to leading international referees in the prize’s topics for evaluation, submission of comprehensive reports on each candidate and recommendations.
- Finally, specialized autonomous Selection Committees for each prize category convene in Riyadh to examine the nominations, review referees reports and make the final decision. The Selection Committees have the right to award the prize to worthy candidates, or withhold it or postpone the award to the following year.
Neither the King Faisal Foundation nor the KFP General Secretariat has the right to nominate or select winners.
Winner Selection Phases:
International Scientific Organizations:
The General Secretariat of KFP calls various scientific organizations from around the world to nominate whom they believe are worthy of the prize.
After the nominations have been completed, they are evaluated by specialized experts to ensure that they comply with prize conditions and standards.
The nominations are sent to internationally renowned referees in the prize’s topics, who on their part prepare detailed reports and recommendations on the nominated works.
The Selection Committee for each prize meets in Riyadh to evaluate referee reports, select winners and choose prize topics for the following year. These Selection Committees are comprised of nationally and internationally prominent scientists in their disciplines. The Selection Committees' decisions are final.
Announcement of prize winners and awards
The General Secretariat of KFP announce the names of the winners at least one month before the date of the awards. The winners are invited to receive their awards during a ceremony held for this purpose, under the auspices of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.