Dubai:  The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature celebrated students with a talent for poetry performance today, when the winners of Emirates NBD Poetry for All competition were honoured at a special awards ceremony at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU). The first place winners in Arabic and English also repeated their winning performances on stage in front of an audience of parents, teachers, and VIPs.

The Emirates NBD Poetry for All competition attracted more than 700 entrants, competing in Arabic or English across the two age group categories of the competition, 8-13 and 14-18. The students performed individual interpretations of favourite poems in several preliminary rounds, culminating in the grand finals.

“Many things have changed since the winners of last year’s competition were announced, but the level of talent in the student population has, if anything, just increased. While we take every precaution to keep everyone safe, it is wonderful to be able to celebrate these talents in person today,” said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director for Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. “The Education Programme is a vital part of the work we do, and we are delighted to have been able to continue this work in spite of the pandemic. We look forward to growing our programme in the coming years, drawing on the lessons we have learned this year.”

This is the fourth year that Emirates NBD has sponsored the competition. “The competition celebrates the Emirati tradition of poetry recital but this year it really had a modern edge as the students had to perform virtually,” said Moadh Bukhash, Chief Marketing Officer, Emirates NBD. “The students stepped up to the challenge magnificently and we were amazed by how confident they were in terms of performing in front of a camera. It was wonderful to see so many young people taking pride in their oratory skills and give us so many superb performances to enjoy.”

List winners:

8 – 13 Age Category English

  • Christelle Zelia Carneiro – Abu Dhabi Indian School
  • Elijah Lluvi Caballero – St. Mary’s Catholic High School, Muhaisnah
  • Rohit Shibu – Gems United Indian School, Abu Dhabi

14 – 18 Age Category English

  • Hayden Christian T. Villarico – United International Private School
  • Mia Ghrayeb – Jumeirah College
  • Numa Gouher – International School of Arts and Sciences

8 – 13 Age Category Arabic

  • Abdulrahman Dirgham Shaaban – Greenfield International School
  • Joana Abu Ghanem – Al Mawakeb Private School, Al Barsha
  • Maha Ahmad Jark – Al Hikma Private School, Al Jarf

14 – 18 Age Category Arabic

  • Jana Tamer Issa – Deira International School
  • Fatima Riyad Belhoul – Al Mawakeb Private School Al Khawaneej
  • Mohammad Issa Al Hammadi – Al Adwaa Private School

 The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will return in 2022.

You can also tune in to the Foundation’s two podcasts; the Best of the Emirates LitFest, and the Boundless Book Club. 


About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature:

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, featuring international and regional writers, poets, thinkers and speakers from around the world. Over the last 12 years more than 1,500 authors from over one hundred countries have spoken at the Festival. In 2020 the Festival attracted an audience of more than 43,000, reaching a further 99,000 via live streaming. Sessions included explorer Ranulph Fiennes and mountaineer Chris Bonington, award-winning novelists Tayari Jones, Jokha Alharthi, Hoda Barakat, Omaima Alkhamis, Mohammed Hanif and Esi Edugyan. Other big names included Markus Zusack, Graeme Simsion, Santa Montefiore, Jo Nesbø, Linwood Barclay, Fatima Bhutto, visual artist and children’s book illustrator Oliver Jeffers and from the UAE space programme, Hazzaa AlMansouri. The BOSH! Vegan supper and Murder Mystery Dinner featuring Killing Eve creator Luke Jennings both sold out, as did a special pre-festival event with naturalist Jane Goodall, and a closing event celebrating the extraordinary story of refugee Nujeen Mustafa, who took part in the evening, with all proceeds going to Dubai Cares.

The aim of the Festival is to develop a culture of reading as an enjoyable habit in the UAE, and its efforts have been recognised through many awards over the years. By providing an equal platform for international and locally based talents, the Festival continues to build the literary landscape in the UAE and further afield. Alongside the main programme, the Festival organises an Education programme, which positively impacted on more than 30,000 students across the UAE in 2020. The programme includes education days, student sessions and author school visits where young people meet and interact with their favourite authors, plus student competitions, held in Arabic and English, which allow young people to showcase their skills through poetry, short stories and reading.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Festival is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal Decree. In partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be back from 4-6 February 2021. For information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website:

About Emirates

Emirates is an award-winning international airline with a global footprint across six continents, connecting passengers and facilitating global trade to and through its modern hub, Dubai. The airline operates one of the most modern and efficient aircraft fleet comprised of spacious and comfortable Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft. With a culturally diverse workforce from over 160 nations worldwide, Emirates caters to its global customer base by delivering exceptional services and world-class products. The airline also supports local communities worldwide and brings people together through its vast portfolio of international sports and cultural sponsorships. Since its inception, the airline has been recognised by more than 500 international awards for operational excellence, innovative services and industry leading products – making Emirates one of the world’s most recognized airline brands.

About Dubai Culture

On 8 March 2008, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). The mandate of the Authority is to serve as a dedicated entity for culture, arts, heritage, and literature in the Emirate of Dubai, and to drive the growth of the city’s artistic and cultural landscape.

Under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture, the Authority has played an integral role in reinforcing Dubai’s position as a vibrant global centre for creativity.

Dubai Culture aims to enhance Dubai’s cultural scene and draw attention to the UAE’s rich heritage. The Authority’s mandate is to build bridges of constructive dialogue between different civilisations and cultures to enhance Dubai’s position as a creative and sustainable global city for culture, heritage, arts, and literature, with an aim to empower these sectors by developing creative and innovative projects and initiatives locally, regionally, and globally.

Dubai Culture manages heritage sites across Dubai including Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and Al Shindagha Museum, apart from managing Dubai Public Library branches which includes Etihad Museum Library, Al Twar Public Library, Al Rashidya Public Library, Hor Al Anz Public Library, Al Safa Art & Design Library, Al Mankhool Public Library, Umm Suqeim Library, and

Hatta Public Library.

Dubai Culture also plays a significant role in empowering the four creative sectors (arts, culture, heritage, and literature) by launching innovative initiatives and projects that aim at productive outcomes.

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