Bob Dylan was absent from Friday evening's Prince of Asturias award ceremony in Spain, when the heir to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe, presented the coveted International Cooperation award to Al Gore, and the Sports award to former Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher, among others. The awards are Spain's equivalent to the Nobel awards.

Dylan, recipient of the Arts award for 2007, is currently on tour in the U.S. and sent a note explaining he had a prior concert commitment in Omaha, Nebraska. Dylan said he regretted not being able to attend, adding he hoped to return to Spain soon to be able to thank the country. In mentioning Dylan's award in the ceremony televised live on Spanish public network TVE1, Prince Felipe referred to Dylan's "sensitivity and the strength of his dreams."

Announcing the award in June, former Spanish trade minister José Lladó said Dylan "is a living legend" and "a beacon for a generation that had the dream of changing the world".

Dylan receives 50,000 ($71,000) in prize money, plus a sculpture by Spanish sculptor Joan Miró. Previous Arts awards have gone to flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, and US actor/director Woody Allen.

Prince Felipe, was flanked by his wife, Princess Letizia, and his mother, Queen Sofia during the ceremony, which took place in Oviedo, the capital of the northern region of Asturias.