Million's Poet competition kicks off with thrilling first round

Published December 29th, 2009 - 02:16 GMT

The first live episode of the biggest Nabati poetry competition, "Million's Poet", was broadcast live last Wednesday on Abu Dhabi TV - the exciting journey to the top poetry title and the 5 million UAE dirhams prize has started in a hot competition between the best 48 poets in Arabia.

From Al Raha Beach Theatre in Abu Dhabi and on a marvellous decorated stage inspired by Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, the first phase of the fourth season of the competition, organized and sponsored by Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), has started by testing the first 8 poets before the jury panel and audience.

"The competition emphasizes the great effort of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage in promoting Nabati poetry by highlighting the role of Abu Dhabi and its vision to embrace this poetry and the transfer of cultural achievement to the whole world to reach every Arab in the various parts of the world," commented Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Director General of (ADACH).

Nabati poetry, written in Arabic dialect, is a highly regarded art form in a large number of Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf region where it has been the common literature form since the fourth century AH.Since then, it has been seen as the best way to document the authentic Bedouin life with all its details and beauty, expressing people's concerns, issues and feelings.

"Today, after more than 1000 years since the origin of Nabati poetry, this unique form of literature continues to captivate millions of authentic poetry lovers , particularly after the radical change in Arab cultural society caused by the launch of the "Million's Poet" competition in 2006. Some researchers point to two important ages in Nabati poetry: the first age is a thousand years old, while the second is only four years old - it is the age of the "Million's Poet" competition" Al Mazrouei added.

The first live episode witnessed a thrilling competition between poets: Ebraheam Al Belawi from Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Al Dhabaei from UAE, Thani Al Dhahmashi from Saudi Arabia, Hameid Al Muradi from Yemen, Roba Al Douekat from Jordan, Satam Bin Batla from Saudi Arabia, Abdula Al Mutari from Kuwait and Ali Al Muri from Qatar. Only two poets would make it through to the second phase.

Each contender delivered a poem before the specialized jury panel consisting of Sultan Al Amimi, Director of Poetry Academy in ADACH, Dr Ghassan Al Hassan, a researcher in Nabati poetry and the poet Hamad Al Saeed.

Contender's poems were powerful and some showed a strong ability to renew the traditional forms of Nabati poetry. Most of them were given a high percentage rating by the theatre audience; none of them gained less than 50 percent.

Sultan Al Amimi, Director of Poetry Academy in ADACH and a member of the jury panel said "Nabati poetry expresses the senescence of humans, taking interest in it, preserving its historical memory and documenting it."

Al Amimi also pointed out that "Million's Poet has provided an opportunity for showcasing poets who were absent from the scene of poetry and the Arab cultural scene for various reasons, and also absent for a long time from the audio-visual and even paper media."

At the end of the episode, the jury chose the two best poets to participate in the second phase of the competition, Satam Bin Batla and Ali Al Muri. One of the other six contenders will participate in the second phase by public voting through SMS and website voting which will be revealed in the next episode this coming Wednesday.

The Million's Poet project was launched in 2006 under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Su preme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The show presents 48 poets, carefully selected by a panel of experts on Nabati poetry (dialect poetry), from thousands of applicants after a six-week tour of the Arabian Gulf countries with contestants from all over the Arab world. The poets will battle it out, seeking to impress the jury and the audience with their poetic skills, in the hope of making it through to the grand final.

Contestants are judged using a mixture of jury votes, live audience votes via the in-theatre voting pods and SMS voting throughout the weeks. The Millions' Poet who wins first place will receive an increased grand prize of 5 million AED ($1,362,000), second place will be awarded 4 million AED ($ 1,090,000), third place 3 million AED ($ 817,000), fourth place 2 million AED ($ 545,000) and fifth place 1 mil lion AED ($ 272,000). The prize money for all contestants, at the behest of HH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will total 22 million AED (more than $ 4 million).

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