Announcing First Chapter – The ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship
Innovative new programme will nurture the writing stars of tomorrow
The first global standard mentorship programme in the region for aspiring writers from the UAE has been launched by the Emirates Literature Foundation in partnership with Seddiqi Holding. Called First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship will be free to successful applicants, identifying and nurturing emerging writing talent, elevating it to an international standard and bringing it to global attention.
Writers will gain access throughout the year-long programme to experts in the industry, with one-to-one mentorship from international authors such as top crime writer Mark Billingham; Yrsa Siggodottir, the Queen of Nordic Noir; Shahad Al Rawi, the youngest writer to ever make the Arabic Booker Prize shortlist; and one of Kuwait’s most celebrated writers, Taleb Al Refai. There are exclusive workshops from a range of master storytellers including internationally acclaimed authors Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith. The programme will also provide introductions to international agents, editors and publishers. Successful applicants will be able to personalise their writing journey with vouchers to take part in short writing classes from international partner writing institutions, such as Gotham Writers Workshop and the Faber Academy.
“This is a truly unique opportunity – a global-standard mentorship programme which is a dream for any aspiring writer. It is a key objective of the Emirates Literature Foundation to create international opportunities for local writers, and thanks to this far-sighted partnership with Seddiqi Holding, this fellowship will be a key milestone in that journey. Our hope is that over the next five years, this fellowship will create a notable pool of authors based in the UAE, with audiences all over the world,” said Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. “The writing scene within the UAE and the Arab World is not as developed as it is in many other parts of the world. We know there are many within the region who have fascinating stories to tell, but just need to find their voice, and the right way to tell their stories. Through giving these diverse writers access to internationally recognised experts, providing guidance and advice, we hope to equip them to compete on a global platform. Anyone serious about their writing career should jump at the chance to be part this fantastic platform for new writing.”
Seddiqi Holding regards the preservation of Arabic literature and development of the cultural sector as essential to their contribution to society. Over a period of five years, Seddiqi Holding aims to strengthen the regional literary community as part of its timeless legacy; “We are honoured to establish a platform that is set to advance locally-based writers and literature, effectively growing the creative writing community in the UAE and the region. Seddiqi Holding seeks partners who pioneer development across the community, and we are proud to catalyse this initiative in partnership with Emirates Literature Foundation. The program is designed to nurture talent in the UAE and aid in the development of their craft; by connecting them with pillars across the global literary sphere.” said Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Seddiqi Holding.
There will be 10 participants chosen to be part of the inaugural course – a mix of Arabic and English writers. As the project grows, a mutually supportive writing community for alumni will develop that continues to nurture the writers after the programme has been completed, with ongoing support.
Each participant will receive six hours one-to-one mentorship. This will be amplified by a regular series of workshops, meetups and talks from experts spanning the whole of the industry and encompassing all stages of writing, publishing and promoting a book.
Who is it for?
The programme is by selection only. Applications are invited from serious writers who are on their way to completing a novel but want to get their manuscript into shape. All genres of fiction are welcome. The initiative also wants to discover those with exceptional potential, who may only be at the beginning of their writing journey.
Anyone over 18 years of age, who calls UAE home and will be resident in the UAE for the duration of the programme may apply.
Application is via the online form, and requires a covering letter, a 400-word synopsis of the book and the first 2000 words of the almost completed manuscript, if one is in process.
Applications open on November 1, 2021, and close on January 2, 2022.
Names of successful applicants will be announced at a special event during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2022.
There will be opportunities to pitch to editors and literary agents at the end of the process but publication or representation cannot be guaranteed. Successful completion of the course will be certified.