Winner of First Emirates Literature Foundation Mentorship Programme Announced
Dubai, 2 March, 2016: The Emirates Literature Foundation is proud to announce that Shahd Thani is the winner of its first Mentorship Programme. Award-winning fiction writer Liz Fenwick will be giving Thani the benefit of her expertise and work closely with her to complete her manuscript and pitch it to publishers and literary agents. The other two finalists were Shaima Al Shamsi and Roudha Al Shehhi.
Candidates were required to submit a 2000-word submission of their novel, along with a brief synopsis and the theme of the book. The programme was open exclusively to emerging women Emirati writers who write about the United Arab Emirates in English. Thani is an Emirati novelist and poet, who has written two serialised novels on her personal blog. She is a member of Untitled Chapters (a community for female Emirati writers) where she also mentors younger writers.
After careful deliberation, Fenwick, writer of Cornwall-set stories and frequent guest at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, shortlisted three finalists before the eventual winner was selected. While Thani will be mentored through to the culmination of the first draft of her novel, Fenwick has agreed to support the other finalists with their novels as well.
‘I chose my top three and set some questions that would tell me where they were in their writer’s journeys and where they were in the writing process. From their answers I made my final selection. It wasn’t an easy process because all the entries showed promise. It was a difficult decision to choose just one,’ Fenwick explains. She also shared the entries with an agent to help her make the final decision.
‘Thani’s story, Just Another Emirati Love Story, first captured me with the title. It showed humour and instantly intrigued me. The writing was accomplished and the characterisation was excellent. I felt I was being given an insight into a world that was unknown to me yet was familiar too because we all search for love.’
This was also demonstrated in the stories by the two runners-up. In Desertful – Reaching From the Past, Roudha Al Shehhi wrote a journey of self-discovery with elements of magic realism, while Shaima Al Shamsi’s A Place Called Heera is a coming-of-age story set in a fictional part of Sharjah, that hints at the past and present clashing and how this impacts on a young woman’s journey to adulthood.
‘This programme’s objective appealed to my friends and me as it was aimed at female Emirati writers who want to be given a platform to grow into their full potential. There was incredible pride that whatever happens, this writer would win one for all of us. I’m beyond honoured and incredibly blessed to have been chosen,’ Thani said of her win.
All three finalists have been invited to meet Fenwick at the ‘Tea & Tales’ event at the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, where they will also have the chance to meet other writers.
The Emirates Literature Foundation was established in 2013 by royal decree by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and aims to support and nurture literature within the community and the region by creating a welcoming and inclusive platform through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.
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About the Emirates Literature Foundation
The Emirates Literature Foundation was established in 2013 by royal decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, to promote literacy and foster an encouraging environment for literature enthusiasts.
The Foundation aims to support literature within the community and the region by creating a welcoming and inclusive platform through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.
Recognising the distinctive contribution that literature makes to children’s lives, the Emirates Literature Foundation focuses on introducing and cultivating a spirit of reading while acting as a catalyst for writing and cultural exchange.
The non-profit Foundation will be responsible for organising the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, highlight on the Dubai calendar each March, and the Dubai International Writers’ Centre, launched in autumn 2014, the first of many initiatives to come.
About Liz Fenwick
Writer, ex-pat expert, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer.
Award-winning author of The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger and Under A Cornish Sky. After nine international moves, she is a bit of a global nomad. It’s no wonder her heart remains in Cornwall.
Fenwick is currently editing her next book – The Returning Tide due in January 2017.
Her books are available in Dutch, Germany, Portuguese, French, Estonia, Norwegian, Czech, Danish, Swedish, Latvian, Serbian and Turkish