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The Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College London and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award present an online discussion on the Islamic historian, philosopher and sociologist, Ibn Khaldûn.

Leading the discussion will be Gabriel Martinez-Gros, an emeritus professor at the Universities of Paris/Vincennes and Paris/Nanterre, who will reflect on the theory of Ibn Khaldûn and its relevance today.

Ibn Khaldûn’s theory is a tool with which to analyse the imperial societies identified by a heavy centralised state taxation, gigantic capital cities and a strict segregation between peaceful population in charge of productive activities (sedentary, in Ibn Khaldûn’s terms) and ethnic groups in charge of violent and military functions (Bedouins in Ibn Khaldûn’s terms).

Our modern societies found other ways to increase the wealth of nations, and Ibn Khaldûn’s thought lost its relevance. But it might recover part of it if the global economic growth decreases into a stagnant society.

In 2023, Professor Martinez-Gros was shortlisted for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the Arab Culture in Other Languages category for his book De l’autre côté des croisades: L’Islam entre croisés et Mongols (On the Other Side of the Crusades: Islam between Crusaders and Mongols, French by Passés Composés, 2021).

The event will take place via Zoom.


An emeritus professor at the Universities of Paris/Vincennes and Paris/Nanterre, Gabriel Martinez-Gros achieved his PhD and first academic works in the field of Andalusi studies. Among his books in that field, L’idéologie omeyyade, (Madrid 1992), Identité andalouse (Paris, 1997), and, along with Sophie Makariou, first director of the department of Islamic Arts in the Louvre Museum, Histoire de Grenade (2018). He served as a director at the Institute for Islamic Studies in the School for Social Advanced Studies in Paris (EHESS as the French Acronym) along with Lucette Valensi. Both published in 2004 (second edition in 2012) L’Islam, l’islamisme et l’Occident.

After having translated into French in 1992 Ibn Hazm’s Tawq al-hamâma, (‘Ring of the Dove’, 5th century H/11th century CE), Gabriel Martinez-Gros turned his attention and dedicated the bulk of his research to Ibn Khaldûn’s thought and historical works, such as Ibn Khaldûn et les Sept Vies de l’Islam (2006), Brève Histoire des Empires (2014), L’empire islamique (2019), De l’autre côté des Croisades (2021), La Traîne des Empires (2022).

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award

Since 2006, the award has brought recognition to outstanding work by authors, scholars, researchers, translators, publishers, and literary organisations around the world. The award is organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, under the auspices of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.

Across nine prize categories ranging from ‘Children’s Literature’ to ‘Translation’ and ‘Arabic Culture in Other Languages’, the award showcases a unique breadth of Arabic-language literature as well as books written in any language about Arabic culture. Each year an international committee of leading academics, authors and book industry professionals ensure the award continues to recognise and foster creativity and originality in both academic and non-academic literature.

The award not only promotes literary and cultural achievements but also aims to foster intercultural dialogue through strategic partnerships, and support the publishing industry through its translation grant. Launched in 2018, the rolling grant offers funding to translators and publishers around the world to translate, publish and promote any shortlisted or winning title from the award’s Literature and Children’s Literature categories.