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Emirates NBD Poetry for All Competition

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

Students learn poetry by heart and give an emotional response to the language and ideas of the poet.

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.
  • The age groups are 8-13 and 14-18.
  • Each student can participate in Arabic or in English.
  • Students need to choose a poem from the list provided below, on the competition website.
  • The school’s official Teacher/Coordinator should register the selected students and their poems, chosen from the list provided on or before Monday, 15 November 2021.

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

  • The semi-final will take place from 10-20 January 2022.
  • Please note: Due to the current pandemic of COVID-19 and taking into consideration social distancing measures, this round will be conducted virtually. More details regarding the procedure will follow closer to the date of the competition.
  • Registered schools will receive an email about the virtual procedure, date, and timings.
  • 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 2022 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 judges’ decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entertained with regard to these decisions.


The winners in each category will be honoured in a ceremony during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in February 2022 and will receive winners’ plaques.

Click here to view the winners of the 2021 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.


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

Key Dates

The Festival dates are 3 – 12 February 2022.(Details of the programme will be announced in November 2021).

Registration opens 5 September 2021
Registration closes 15 November 2021
Semi-final round 10-20 January 2022
Final Round February 2022 (TBC)

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 Monday, 15 November 2021.
  • 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 Mia Santiago at 04 355 9844 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 15 November 2021.
  • The competition is open to students of all abilities, including people of determination.
  • Each school can enter a maximum of two students per age group per language.
  • Schools must conduct Round 1 and register students via the website by the specified date of 15 November 2021.
  • 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.

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