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The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) has just held its tenth annual UAE Nadwa, or seminar, in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, with eight emerging Arab authors participating, hailing from Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Syria and the UAE itself.

The writers were identified by IPAF as emerging talents and were chosen following an application process.  The Nadwa was led by two mentors, the Lebanese novelist, researcher, and President of PEN Lebanon, Iman Humaydan, and Muhsin Al-Ramli, the twice IPAF longlisted Iraqi-Spanish writer, poet and academic.

The participating writers included the Palestinian writer, editor and translator Yasmin Haj, founder of the “Dalala” co-operative for translating literary, critical and academic writing from and into English and Arabic; the Moroccan novelist and short story writer Wiam Al Madadi, who won the 2010 Moroccan Writers’ Union Prize for the Short Story for her 2010 collection Whiteness; and two Emirati writers, Salha Obeid, whose third book An Implicitly White Lock of Hair (2015) won the 2016 Al Owais Award for Creative Writing, and Eman Al Yousuf, the novelist and short story writer who is the first Emirati woman to be chosen for the University of Iowa’s international writing programme.

The workshop helped the writers hone their writing skills through daily group discussions and one-on-one guidance.  The group also attended the 17th Sharjah Arabic Poetry Festival where they met His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah.

This year the Nadwa was sponsored by the Department of Culture,  Sharjah Government.  Khalid Muslit, co-ordinator and supervisor of the Nadwa from Department of Culture, Sharjah Government, said: “Holding the workshop of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in Sharjah emirate is a unique experience and opportunity for emerging intellectuals. Sharjah embraces young writers and artists and is internationally recognised as a beacon of culture. It has been chosen as the World Book Capital 2019 by the international jury of UNESCO. The workshop offers young talented writers the chance to refine their skills as they write short stories and novels which enrich literary life and will be a valuable addition to Arabic and non-Arabic bookshops.”