May 22, 2024

Announcing the winners of First Chapter – The ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship

 Announcing the winners of First Chapter – The ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship

Ten writers hand-picked for mentorship programme with internationally published authors.

Dubai, 5 February 2022: The first recipients of First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship were announced today at a special ceremony at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The ten winners were selected from the 120 applicants writing in Arabic and English by their prospective mentors, internationally published authors Mark Billingham, Yrsa Siggurdottir, Patrick Gale, Ali Sparkes, Shobhaa De, Greg Mosse, Annabel Kantaria, Shahad Al Rawi, Taleb Al Refai and Najwa Bin Shatwan.

The first global standard mentorship programme in the region for aspiring writers, it was launched by the Emirates Literature Foundation in partnership with Seddiqi Holding to   identify and nurture emerging writing talent from the UAE, enabling the successful participants to hone their skills through one-to-one sessions with the authors.

The winners are:

Moxie Anderson chosen by Mark Billingham

Sara Hamdan chosen by Yrsa Siggurdottir

Yi-Hwa Hanna chosen by Patrick Gale

Mustafa Alrawi chosen by Ali Sparkes

Zana Bonafe chosen by Shobhaa De

Reem Hameed chosen by Greg Mosse  

Kate Tindle chosen by Annabel Kantaria


Huda Al Rawajfa chosen by Shahad Al Rawi

Mona Al Ali chosen by Taleb Al Refai

Sara Al Abdullah chosen by Najwa Bin Shatwan

“We knew that there was an amazing pool of talent in the region, but we were really astonished by the extremely high calibre of the submissions. Each winner was hand-picked by their mentor, chosen by them because they could see their potential and felt they would be able to help them reach it,” said Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.  “It means that some very accomplished writers were not selected, although they are of a publishable standard, and we are intending to put some classes in place to help this group too. For those who have been chosen for the Fellowship, this really is a golden opportunity, a dream come true and we are grateful to Seddiqi for partnering with us  in helping us create  this unrivalled initiative to enhance the writing scene in the UAE.”

The mentorship programme will be amplified by a regular series of workshops, meetups and talks from experts spanning the whole of the industry and encompassing all stages of writing, publishing and promoting a book. The programme will also provide introductions to international agents, editors and publishers and access to short writing classes from international partner writing institutions, such as Gotham Writers Workshop and the Faber Academy.

“We are delighted to partner with Emirates Literature Foundation and establish a platform that is the first of its kind in the region. Inspired by an idea to propel and advocate for literary talent from our region globally, we are thrilled to commemorate the beginning of this chapter and witness the forthcoming journeys of each winner. The extraordinary talent witnessed via the entries submitted; is a testament to the potential that exists in our region, and we look forward to inspiring other aspiring writers in the future. Seddiqi Holding remains committed to pioneering initiatives that preserve and develop the cultural industry and we look forward to working closely with Emirates Literature Foundation to further strengthen the programme.” said Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Seddiqi Holding.

Seddiqi Holding has agreed to partner with the Emirates Literature Foundation for five years, with the aim that the Fellowship will create a notable pool of authors based in the UAE, with audiences all over the world.

More information about the Emirates Literature Foundation can be found online and year-round news of #EmiratesLitFest on LinkedInFacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube. The Foundation also has two podcasts; the Best of the Emirates LitFest, and the Boundless Book Club