Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance and President of Zayed University, honored 11 creative winners in the first of its kind New Fairytales and Fables from the UAE Writing Competition (NF&F) at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi campus. The awarding ceremony saw the presence ofSheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian and Scientific Foundation.Launched earlier this year on February 19, the New Fairytales and Fables from the UAE Writing Competition (NF&F), is held in partnership with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) and SheikhaAlYaziaBint Sultan Al Nahyan’s ZOWD Cultural Establishment.
The contest came as part of Zayed University’s Kharareef Heritage Storytelling Club activities to highlight the growing interests in storytelling, to demonstrate that UAE young students know and value the meaning of their surrounding culture and take pride in their national identity.His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Muqbali, Adviser at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, His Excellency Marwan Al Sawaleh, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education, Professor Reyadh AlMehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University, Dr Marilyn Roberts, Acting Provost at Zayed University, a number of faculty members, academic administrators, and several public figures also attended the glittering ceremony.At the outset of the ceremony, Professor AlMehaideb said: “ Encouraging younger and future generations to explore their potentials and passions in creative writing and storytelling is a crucial factor to implant the love of reading in their hearts. Reading motivates writing and stimulates enthusiastic youth to discover the world.”
“Therefore, the New Fairytales and Fables from the UAE Writing Competition came to instill the habit of reading in the people in line with the declaration of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to make 2016 the Year of Reading and in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the capital of content, culture and knowledge through an integrated national literacy strategy and framework,” AlMehaideb added.Additionally, AlMehaideb has also expressed his sincere gratitude to the partners including: the Ministry of Presidential Affairs for providing the financial support during the competition, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) and SheikhaAlYaziaBint Sultan Al Nahyan’s ZOWD Cultural Establishment.The official competition, which received thousands of submissions from around 88 different schools across the UAE, was limited to grades 7-12 with internal competitions required for all the participating schools. Teachers have divided students into groups beginning with different story chains and let teams develop collective ideas. They can also host traditional oral storytelling contests after the students create their stories. All grades and school age students participated in some creative way as they learn about the magical ancients archetypes from the UAE’s folklore of days gone by.Students had to compose their own fairytales and fables in 500 words or less, in Arabic or English.
Winner of the New Fairytales & Fables Writing Competition
Arabic Grades 7-9
1st Place: “Abu Ras& Saber” by Abdullah Maher, Al Manhal Private School
2nd Place: “Um Al Duwais& the Ghaf Tree” by RoaaHelal, Emirates National School Abu Dhabi
3rd Place: “Um Al Duwais” by Omar Fareed, Jumeirah Primary School
Honorable Mention: “Al Naghaga& the Naughty Kid” by Tamara Khadeer, Dubai International Academy
English Grades 7-9
1st Place: “Camel Karma” by Ruby Sheehan – Jumeirah Primary School
2nd Place: “Al Roua'a" by Ronan John Almeida, Cambridge International School
3rd Place: “Good Always Win” by Maysa Hassan Haj Hussain - Rosary School
English Grades 10-12
1st Place: “Friendship an Irreplaceable Gem” by Alysha Columbres from the Abu Dhabi International Private School
2nd Place: “Salma And Her Daughters” by LayanneElboreini - the Abu Dhabi International Private School
3rd Place: “Forgiveness” by Sham EmadZoukar - Qatr Al Nada Girls School
Honorable Mention: “The Gift", Eliana Hambleton, Abu Dhabi Homeschoolers Association
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan has expressed his appreciation for the mutually fruitful cooperation between Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), SheikhaAlYaziaBint Sultan Al Nahyan’s ZOWD Cultural Establishment, and Zayed University to make this competition a success. He also praised efforts exerted by the participated schools, which taught its young students to value the meaning of their surrounding culture, take pride in their national identity, and promote reading in the UAE as part of the Emirati culture, and promising initiatives made to promote the Year of Reading 2016. On her part, Her Highness SheikhaAlYaziaBint Sultan Al Nahyan, said: “This competition has provided young students from different schools across the UAE to celebrate the Emirati heritage and its rich culture. I am proud of all participated students, who wrote innovative stories that added a great value to the world of writing for children and teenagers.”
The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding has also expressed its pride for being a part of the first annual Fables and Fairytales from the UAE award ceremony hosted at Zayed University.“The clear enthusiasm of the students getting their award demonstrated the success of this competition that should take place annually,” Abdullah Al Serkal from the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding, said.
It is worth mentioning that Zayed University has created a coherent corporate social responsibility strategy to promote reading among its students. For example: the Zayed University Reads campaign, “The Book is the Best Company” initiative, Zayed University reading corner, and many other promising projects. Dr Fatima AlDarmaki, Assistant Provost for Students Affairs, said: “This completion goes in line with numerous activities and initiatives launched at Zayed University to ramp up the love of reading whether within the University’s campuses or outside such as, participating at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.”
Brioné LaThrop, Faculty Advisor to the Kharareef Heritage Storytellers and Creator of New Fairytales and Fables, said: “The success of the first year's competition has exceeded my expectations. The quality of the writing, the pride of the parents and the appreciation expressed by the participating schools is a testament to the importance of this project. Two of our winners have started writing clubs at their schools and others have already begun their new tales for next year's competition. I am overjoyed to be able to provide an avenue for the enormous talent in the country as they are introduced to different aspects of Emirati culture and heritage.”