Prince of Poets kicks off tonight, but are its 20 contestants royal enough for the competition?

Published March 25th, 2015 - 07:56 GMT
A scene from the Prince of Poets competition. (Image:
A scene from the Prince of Poets competition. (Image:



Poetry enthusiasts across the country will be glued to their television sets tonight as the identity of the 20 aspiring poets who will battle it out for the coveted ‘Prince of Poets’ title will be revealed on many Arab TV channels.

Launched in 2007 to revive the art of poetry in the UAE and the Arab region, the Dh1-million competition is similar to the ‘Million Poet’ — both organised here by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee (CPHFC). The Million Poet competition is for Nabati (local Bedu dialect) poetry, while the Prince of Poets promotes the classical Arabic verse.

“Poetry is an art that is as old and deeply rooted as the Arabic language in our cultural heritage. This makes the safeguard, revival and promotion of this tradition a must and a duty to ensure the preservation of one of the most important pillars of our national identity,” said Sultan Al Amimi, director of Poetry Academy at the CPHFC.

Since the first season eight years ago, 50 poetry evenings were aired live on Abu Dhabi TV and some 165 poetic talents were discovered. Among them was Egyptian poet Hisham Al Gakh, who won the hearts of the audience in the fourth season after writing and reciting a controversial poem titled ‘The Visa’, which criticised some Arab leaders.

After missing an episode to take part in the political protests in Cairo, he returned to the competition with a poem about the Egyptian revolution, which made him a favourite to win the Prince of Poets. Although he reached the finals with an audience vote, Al Gakh eventually came in second, losing the title to Yemeni poet Abdulaziz Al Zerai.

“Eight years have flown by since the launch of Prince of Poets, which has successfully maintained the massive media attention, as well as the enthusiasm and fervour of the public,” said Al Amimi. “The new season will feature new standards and rules.”

This year, the competition will not only be broadcast from the usual Al Raha Beach Theatre, but also from a special tent at Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The programme will be aired live on three TV channels: Baynounah TV, Saudi Channel 1 (KSA 1) and Egyptian El Mehwar TV.

From the 20 finalists entering the competition, only five will be crowned in the end, not just with laurels, but loaded cheques as well: Dh1 million for the winner, Dh500,000 for the second place, Dh300,000 for the third, Dh200,000 for the fourth and Dh100,000 for the fifth.

By Silvia Radan

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