Winners of Inaugural Taaleem Poetry Award Announced at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2012

Saturday, 10 March, 2012

The extraordinary poetic talents of some of the UAE's students were honoured today by leading education group Taaleem, and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, at a ceremony held at the LitFest today.

This was the inaugural year of the Poetry Award for students which was run in cooperation with schools and colleges in four age specific categories. The competition was staged in both Arabic and English. This year the Taaleem Poetry Award had as its theme, ‘Who Am I, Who are You?’ chosen by Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director, to reflect this year’s overall LitFest theme of ‘Identity’.

The awards were presented to the winning students by Ziad Azzam, Chief Executive Officer, Taaleem, the celebrated international poets John O’Sullivan and Imtiaz Dharkar, Emirati writer Maitha Al Khayat and Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul.

The Winners – English Language

11 and under
Hamzah Raza, Repton School, Age 10; Jude Offord, DESS, Age 10; Kehkashan Basu, The Millennium School, Age 11; Special Mention: Anya Vaghani, Repton School, Age 7.

Aliosha Bielenberg Pittaka, Raha International School, Age 14; Caren Thomas, Our Own English High School, Sharjah, Age 13; Greeshma Pradeep, Greenfield Community School, Age 14.

Donghun Kim, American Community School of Abu Dhabi. Age 17; Ali Taha, Sheffield Private School, age 16; Jennah Ashraf Fakhouri, Al Ittihad Private School, Jumeirah, age 15; Highly Commended - Farah Chamma, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Abu Dhabi, age 17; Special mention - Stephanie Kinnear, Raha International School, age 17.

Jorge Zárate, New York University, Abu Dhabi; Farah Nada, American University Sharjah; Cristóbal Martinez Yanes.

The Winners – Arabic Language – all ages

Nour Mothna Hussain, Fahad Sami Fahad, Maryam Khalid Hamad, Nour Khalid Hamad, Haya Sami, Jassim akran, Mohammed Hassan Hasan, Montaha Monther Ghanam, Fatma Abdul Ghafar Al Janahi, Leena Mohammed Al Ameen, Onoud Abdul Basit Al Yas, Al Yazia Abdulla, Asma Yaser Al Kaabi and Noura Essa Saeed.

Ziad Azzam, Chief Executive Officer, Taaleem, said, “The Taaleem Poetry Award could not have yielded a more positive and encouraging result in its inaugural year. The calibre of submissions in both English and Arabic is indicative of the wealth of young creative talent we have in the country”.

“The choice for Taaleem to initiate and partner with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature through the realm of poetry was a natural and fitting choice since the Arabic language and culture is embedded in the nation’s identity; a fact attested by our patron and acclaimed poet His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum”.

“Taaleem is both dedicated and committed to nurturing and nourishing the creative literary talent not only within its own extensive school network, but also to extend the platform to all students who want to find their voice through poetic expression”.

“We are thrilled at the outcome of our participation and to be here and witness firsthand the excitement, energy and pride of the winners and their friends and families reaffirms our belief that The Taaleem Poetry Award will draw unbelievable regional talent to the forefront,’ he concluded.

Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul also expressed her pleasure at the success of the competition and the partnership. ‘Education and promotion of the love of the written and spoken word is at the core of everything we do and we are delighted to have such a committed partner as Taaleem – a name which of course in English means education!’

‘Together we have made a few small steps in helping young people to find their poetic voices. And how beautiful they are!. It is no exaggeration to say we are witnessing the emergence of a remarkable new generation of poets. We can’t wait to see the Taaleem Poetry Award submissions for 2013’ she said.

The well-loved and best selling writer and poet Tony Buzan was closely involved in the project and provided his comments on the English language winners which appear in the Taaleem Poetry Award Book – the published compilation of the winning entries.

He said ‘What a remarkable group of Prize Winners! Over the years, I have had the privilege of commenting on, and examining, thousands of poems. The poems in The Taaleem Poetry Competition are among the best I have ever read.’

In addition to seeing their work published in the Book, winners received a selection of prizes including a trophy, signed books, tickets to LitFest events and an invitation to a professional Creative Writing Workshop.

Commenting on the four first prize entries from the English langage entries Tony Buzan said: "What a wonderful kaleidoscope of a poem I AM is. Lovely innocent lines such as 'ripped wrapping paper, green apples and a tall glass of milk', juxtaposed with such advanced intellectual lines as 'I am test tubes and flasks; I am all of these and sometimes none' using the surprising 'none' instead of the more obvious and tempting 'more'." (Jorge Zárate, New York University, Abu Dhabi 18+).

“A beautiful realised poem with very clever and subtle internal rhymes and wonderful, almost Gerard Manley Hopkins-like lines such as 'the bats of black flapping in the night'.” (Donghun Kim, Age 17, American Community School of Abu Dhabi)

“A mature poet beyond his years. His choice of images and careful choice of colour adjectives reminds us of one of the surrealist painters.” (Aliosha Bielenberg Pittaka, Raha International School, age 14)

“What a prodigious talent Hamzah is! The poem is shockingly good and easily could become a logo-poem for the United Nations and the Third World.”

Hamzah Raza, Repton School, age 10.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and in partnership with Emirate Airline and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

Sheikh Mohammed is widely acknowledged as a fine poet and writer.


Notes to Editors


Arabic language version available with more details of the Arabic entries.

The Taaleem Poetry Award 2012 book is available from Taaleem and the LitFest.

About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together with authors from across the world to promote education, debate and above all else, love of reading and writing.

The Festival creates a wonderful opportunity for UAE nationals, residents and visitors to meet world famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings, participate in workshops and experience the exciting fringe and children’s events. With simultaneous translation between Arabic and English for all sessions, the Festival is a meeting of minds where ideas are shared and friendships are formed – not least among the authors themselves.

About Taaleem

Taaleem has has been establishing, operating and managing early childhood, primary and secondary schools since its inception in 2004. Taaleem seeks to raise the regional educational standards through the committed development of individual student’s talents and passions, which is in turn facilitated and supported by the recruitment of top international educators and the implementation of international education policies, operations and global best practice.

With quality at the forefront of Taaleem’s offering, each project is tailored to answer the specific educational requirements of a wide range of families by offering top international curricula including British, American, the International Baccalaureate and their proprietary custom early childhood programme.

Taaleem is wholeheartedly committed to creating and implementing benchmark educational initiatives, nurturing educational excellence through the attraction, retention and development of the best educators. The continuous evaluation and improvement of standards across all schools has ensured that the Taaleem schools have been established as valued cornerstones of their communities.

For more information please contact

Mohammed Barghuthi, Communications Manager, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Christina Bruce, Head of Communications, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications, Taaleem

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