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The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition

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The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition 2016 is now closed.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is delighted to initiate a competition where students are invited to learn poetry by heart, giving an emotional response to the language and ideas of the poet. This follows the strong oral tradition which exists in the Arab world and similar competitions which take place around the world.

What are the aims of this competition?

  •  To encourage students to enjoy and understand poetry
  • For students to recite selected poems in a way that demonstrates understanding and response
  • For students to justify their choice in a personal and coherent way
  • To give students a chance to excel in performance through an understanding of the power of spoken poetic language

Who can enter?

Schools and other groups
Open to students from Years 4 – 8 (ages 8 – 13) and Years 9 and above (ages 14-18)

What is the prize?

The winners will be honoured at the Festival and will receive a trophy and books.

How does it work?

Students will recite their chosen poems, which can be in Arabic and/ or English (see below); students in the 14 – 18 age category will also be required to give a personal justification for their choice of poetry. Schools wishing to enter students in the Arabic competition should register here, while those entering in English should use the form below. Students aged 8 – 13 will perform ONE poem of their choice, in either Arabic or English. The poem should be from any work published by a recognised publisher (not self-published) and should be 14 – 30 lines in length. The poem should be submitted to the Festival for approval. Students aged 14 – 18 will perform ONE poem. They can EITHER:

The poem should be between 14 – 30 lines in length and should be submitted to the Festival for approval. Students will recite the poem plus a personal justification for their choice, both by heart (with no notes). The justification should be the student’s own work and not exceed 50 words.

Students can participate in each language category (i.e. students can perform in Arabic as well as English). For the Arabic language options, students can also select a poem from our Nabati anthology, which we will send to those schools who register. All age groups Having chosen the poems, the entrants proceed to: Round 1: Internal within each school/ group

  • Judges – appointed by the school. Maximum of three.
  • Criteria for judging and a judges’ briefing are provided by the Festival and can be downloaded from the link below: Judging Guidelines
  • A maximum of three students per age category should be selected to proceed to round two
  • Names of students and selected poems to be sent to Festival administrators by December 17

Round 2: Inter-school semi-final

  • Semi-final to take place on February 2, 2016
  • They will use the same two poems from the in-school round
  • Judges appointed by the Festival

Round 3: Final round to be held at the Festival

  • The final will be held on Wednesday, March 9, 2016
  • Poets attending the Festival will be included among the judges
  • Entrants will not be required to learn a new poem

In the 8 – 13 age category, the following prizes will be awarded: Best English Poetry Performance In the 14 – 18 age category, the following prizes will be awarded: Best Contemporary English Poetry Performance
Best Classical English Poetry Performance
The Award Ceremony will take place at the Festival following the final round. The winners will be honoured at the Festival and will receive a trophy and books.

Please read carefully

By entering the competition, entrants agree to observe the terms and conditions of the Competition, which include permission for the Festival and the sponsor to publicise photographic images of the participating students in all stages of the competition in any promotional materials. Schools and students should be aware that they might need to obtain parental consent for this.

Judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.

Terms and Conditions of Entry

  • Entrants must be in full-time education, attending a school or organised group, and in the specified grades/ school year/ age group.
  • Schools and groups must register via the website and agree to conduct the first round by the specified date.
  • Winners of the internal school rounds must be available for the semi-final and final of the competitions, and be prepared to travel to Dubai.
  • Poems must be selected from the lists provided by the Festival, (only applicable to 14 – 18 age group).
  • Internal judging should follow the criteria supplied by the Festival when the registration is complete.
  • Lists of poetry and judging criteria will be provided by mid-October 2015.


Is the competition open to University students?

No. The competition is only open to the age groups and grades specified above: Years 4 – 8 (ages 8 – 13) and Years 9 and above (ages 14-18).

Why does a student have to justify their choice?

To ensure that they have thought about the poem and have appreciated it on a personal level.

Is it open to other Gulf countries?

Yes, but the entrants must travel to Dubai for the semi-finals and finals.

What language do the poems have to be in?

The poems can be in the following languages:
1)    English
2)    Arabic

When is the final date to let the Festival know the names and languages of first round winners?

12 January, 2016.

When are the semi-finals?

2 February 2016.

When is the final?

Wednesday 9 March 2016.


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