The Search is on for the Writers and Poets of Tomorrow

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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Student Writing Competitions now open for 2017

Dubai, 25 May, 2016: The search is now on to find the 2017 winners of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s Student Writing Competitions, which give aspiring poets and writers the chance to put their creative writing skills in the spotlight. Open for submissions from today, both competitions – the Taaleem Award and the Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition – have become fixtures in the academic calendar, with last year’s competitions receiving more than 2000 entries, with 12 winners each across four age categories.

‘It is exciting to see how these competitions have fired the imagination of our student population. It certainly seems to have encouraged many more of them to try their hand at creative writing, setting them on the path to a lifetime of appreciation of the written word,’ said Isobel Abulhoul, OBE, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. ‘The winners have their talent recognised when they meet international authors at the prize giving ceremonies at the Festival, and for most it will also be the first time that they will see their work in print; a thrill for any writer.’

The winners have their entry published in a commemorative dual-language book, which is presented to them by international writers at the prize giving ceremonies during the Festival, which in 2017 will be held from 3-11 March. At this year’s Festival the winning young poets of the Taaleem Award received their prizes from none other than UK Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Taaleem Award Winners 2016

Taaleem Award first place winner in the 15-17 age group, Chloe Elliott, said: ‘I think that poetry is one of the more elusive exchanges of thoughts; every line is so incredibly deliberate. The Festival is like this mass culmination of phenomenal minds with every poet or author there being so deliberate and poignant. Winning the Taaleem Award was a surprise, but an unforgettable experience, especially so with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy presenting the awards this year.’

Acclaimed author Gill Lewis gave the awards to the storytellers of the Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition and Nancy Smith, who won first place in the 15-17 age group said: ‘The competition is a fantastic opportunity which allows young writers to express and exhibit their creative writing skills. My experiences with the contest and the Festival itself will always provide fond memories. Each year the Festival presents something new, whether it be through famous authors, interesting workshops or simply the incredible atmosphere that surrounds the place. The Festival never fails to remind me of the beauty of the written word.’

The theme for the 2017 competitions is ‘Journeys’. Both competitions are conducted in Arabic and English and are divided into age-specific categories: 11 and under, 12-14, 15-17 and 18-25. All entries are judged by an independent panel of judges. Entries for the competitions are open to individuals as well as participating schools and colleges. Deadline for submissions is November 20, 2016.

More information on the competition or for registration and submission, visit

In addition to the student writing competitions, The Festival has literature and writing competitions for a variety of age-groups. The Chevron Readers’ Cup, a quiz-based competition, will be launched later this year along with the performance-poetry competition, the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition. There is also the Montegrappa Writing Prize for first-time novelists, as well as the Emirates Airline Capture 380 competition and the Costa Debate, sponsored by Costa Coffee.

Taaleem Award

In 2016, the Taaleem Award received more than 700 poem submissions, making it the competition’s most successful year.

Taaleem’s CEO Ros Marshall said, ‘The entries for the Taaleem Award has continued to grow over the years and the quality of poems never fails to impress and amaze us all. The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the ideal platform for students from across the region to showcase their writing talents. This year’s theme for the competition offers so many exciting prospects for young poets; it will certainly be another extremely competitive and entertaining competition.’

Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition

‘The Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition continues to be an incredible experience for all involved,’ said Julie Till, Head of Business Development, Central Asia, Middle East & North Africa, Oxford University Press. ‘Last year saw a surge in the number of entries, with 1500 altogether, and I think it is because the theme provided endless possibilities. For 2017, the theme of Journeys is once again fantastic and evocative and will, no doubt, result in brilliant entries.’

All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is on-line. Check for updates at Join us on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and YouTube ( for competitions and more updates.