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Emirates NBD Poetry for All Competition

The Emirates NBD Poetry For All is an annual competition run by the Emirates Literature Foundation to celebrate poetry performance and recital.

Students learn poetry by heart and give an emotional response to the language and ideas of the poet. It honours the strong oral tradition which exists in the Arab world.

About the Competition

The competition is divided into three categories:

  • Ages: 8-13
  • Ages: 14-18
  • People of Determination*

Each student can participate in Arabic or in English.

Students need to choose a poem from the list provided below, on the competition website.

* Kindly note that the age group for the People of Determination category is 8-18 years and there will be ONLY one winner chosen from this category.

How the Competition Works

Round 1: (Internal School Round)

  • Each school chooses how to select the two best performances/recitals per age group, using internal judges and/or an internal round. Schools/judges can use the judging criterion below to select students.
  • The school’s official Teacher/Coordinator should register the selected students and their poems, chosen from the list provided, on or before 17 October 2022.

Round 2: (Inter-school Semi-final Round)

  • The semi-final will take place from 14 – 17 November 2022, and on 22 November 2022 for People of Determination.
  • Registered schools will receive an email about the procedure, date, and timings of the physical semi-final round.
  • Each student will recite the poem they selected when registering online for the competition.
  • For the 14-18 age category only, students need to prepare and perform a justification on why they have chosen the poem (not exceeding 50 words).
  • The judges will select the students who will go forward to the finals.
  • An email will be sent to all participating schools announcing the finalists.

Round 3: Final Round

  • The final round will be held in February 2023 during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
  • An email will be sent to all finalists including the details of the final round, venue and timings.
  • Finalists have the choice of performing the same poem as in the semi-final round or choosing another poem from the list on the website, provided they inform the competition team of the change in advance.
  • The judges will evaluate each finalist’s performance and the winners for each age group will then be announced.


The winners in each category will be honoured in a ceremony during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in February 2023 and will receive winners’ plaques.

Click here to view the winners of the 2022 edition of the competition.

Judges’ Criteria

Confident delivery:

The auditory impact of the performance; volume, pace, clarity of pronunciation in the student’s natural accent make an engaging performance. The listeners must be pulled in and feel compelled to hear every word.

Understanding the poem:

The student should demonstrate an understanding of the poem, conveying this clearly to the audience.

Conveying the sentiment of the poem:

The student should interpret the poem so that it is enhanced but not embellished.

Fluency & Accuracy:

The judges will have a copy of the poem to check for accuracy. The poem should be performed using the exact words of the poet, with fluency and understanding.

Overall performance: 

The way in which the performer presents himself/ herself will add to the recitation, including appearance, making eye contact with the audience, displaying confidence and using appropriate body language.

Justification of chosen poem:

This criterion is a requirement for students in the 14 – 18 years old category only. Students need to explain in 50 words or less why they chose their specific poem.


Afra Atiq

Dr. Afra Atiq

Afra Atiq

Dr. Afra Atiq

Dr. Afra Atiqis an Emirati poet, scholar and teaching artist. She holds a strong record of academic and professional excellence, spending the last decade at the intersection of education and culture in various capacities. Holding a PhD in Media and Creative Industries at UAE University and a Master’s degree in Diplomacy, her research focuses on mapping the Arab literary ecosystem.

She writes and performs in a blend of English, Arabic, and French. Community and education are at the core of everything Dr. Atiq does, and she dedicates much of her time to community collaborations: mentoring students and writers, as well as leading numerous workshops and speaking engagements. Her artistic work explores a broad range of topics including heritage, culture, identity, and legacy.

Dr. Atiq has been awarded for her poetry and has been featured on stages across the world. Most notably, she has been featured as Author of the Day at London Book Fair, Expo 2020 Dubai, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, Dubai Opera, and Abu Dhabi Art.

Dr. Atiq is a founding member of Untitled Chapters – a community for Emirati women writers, and the Vice President of the board of directors of the Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association.

Danabelle Gutierrez

Danabelle Gutierrez

Danabelle Gutierrez

Danabelle Gutierrez is a multi-award winning artist, writer, actress and photographer. Her writing has been published in The Common, Cordite Poetry Review, Postscript Magazine, ElectraStreet, WordsDance, and in a video by Vogue Arabia recited by Ciara, among other publications. She is the author of & Until the Dreams Come and I Long To Be The River and chapbooks Eventually, The River Surrenders and Softer. Born in Las Piñas, raised in Cairo, Vienna, and Muscat, Gutierrez’s current work is centered on identity and its relation to locus and the concept of home which, for the past two decades, has been Dubai where she lives, loves and writes.

Farah Ali

Farah Ali

Farah Ali

Farah Ali

Farah Aliis from Pakistan. She is the writer of the short-story collection People Want to Live. Her work has received special mention and anthologized in the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions. Her stories have appeared in Shenandoah, Split Lip Magazine, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Copper Nickel, Ecotone, and elsewhere.

Satya Baskaran

Satya Baskaran

Satya Baskaran

Satya Baskaran

Satya Baskaranis an actor and director, having trained at the University of Birmingham, England and Vancouver Film School, Canada. A founding member of award-winning theatre company, The Cross Bronx Crew, he has been working across multiple mediums including theatre and film since 2014, and began his career with a 5-star reviewed original show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He also won the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival 2020, and was nominated for best actor at The Junction Awards 2021. Satya’s experience ranges from Classical to Contemporary to Immersive Theatre as well as Film, TV and Commercial projects. Satya is also an accomplished acting coach and instructor, currently teaching at Studio Republik.


For the semi-final and final rounds, students must choose a poem to recite from the lists shown below:

  • For poems for students age (8-13): Click here
  • For poems for students age (14-18): Click here
  • For poems for students from the People of Determination category (8-18): Please note that you can either choose from the approved list provided above or you can select a poem of your choice. If you select a poem of your choice, please ensure that you send us the poem text and the poet’s name by responding to the confirmation email when you register.

Key Dates

The Emirates LitFest will take place in February 2023

Registration opens 31 August 2022
Registration closes 17 October 2022
Semi-final round 14-17 November 2022
22 November 2022 (for People of Determination)
Final Round February 2023

Please Read the Following Points Carefully

  • Schools wishing to enter students in the English competition should use the form below, while those entering in Arabic should click here.
  • Schools can enter two students per age category/per language.
  • The school’s official Teacher/Coordinator should register the selected students and their chosen poems on or before 17 October 2022.
  • Participating schools should use the above criteria for their internal round (Round 1) to select students for the semi-final round.
  • For further queries regarding the Emirates NBD Poetry For All Competition, please contact us at +971 4 286 4750 or via email at, , or

Terms and Conditions

  • Entrants must be UAE residents, in full-time education, and in the specified age groups of (8-13) or (14-18) by 17 October 2022.
  • The competition is open to students of all abilities, including people of determination. Please see details for Education for People of Determination on the official portal of the UAE government website.
  • Each school can enter a maximum of two students per age group per language based on the student’s age on the closing date of 17 October 2022.
  • First place winners from the previous year (2022) in every age group must not participate in the next year (2023), unless they have moved to the next age category. This is to encourage wider participation across the school.
  • Participants are required to choose a poem for their performance from the approved list provided on our website as per the age group.
  • Only for poems for students from the People of Determination category (8-18), you can either choose from the approved list provided on our website or you can select a poem of your choice. If you select a poem of your choice, please ensure that you send us the poem text and the poet’s name by responding to the confirmation email when you register.
  • Participating students are required to memorize their selected performance poems; no paper, books, phones will be permitted during the performance.
  • Schools must conduct Round 1 and register students via the website by the closing date of 17 October 2022.
  • The entrants give permission for the Emirates Literature Foundation, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Emirates NBD to publicise photographic images of the participating students in all stages of the competition in related publicity material and activities. Schools should be aware that they might need to obtain parental consent for this.
  • Judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entertained with regard to these decisions.
  • Please note that participating schools which do not adhere to the said terms and conditions will be disqualified.
  • By entering the competition, entrants agree to observe the terms and conditions of the competition.

Enter the Competition

This competition is now closed. Check again next year!

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