An anthology of the winning stories from the Voices of the Future Generation for the Middle East Region writing initiative was launched at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
Titled Young Voices of Arabia 2021, the anthology contains 22 stories, half of which were originally written in Arabic and the rest in English. The stories have been translated and made available in both languages. They are also supplemented by illustrations produced by artists living in the UAE.
As part of the competition call, the stories had to feature themes of sustainability and at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, a collection of global objectives conceptualised in the hopes of achieving a more sustainable future.
To celebrate the book launch on Saturday, the young authors each performed an original piece of poetry about one of the SDGs, which include goals such as ending poverty, hunger, and promoting education and gender equality.
“I have had a wonderful time reading these stories as they fill me with hope for the future,” Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, goodwill ambassador for the initiative for the Gulf Region, said.
“I encourage everyone to read them and be inspired by the great talent and passion the young people in the region have shown with their submissions. This is a book I will treasure for a long time, and I am excited to see what the future holds for our young authors. Imagination is the seed that will grow into real-world solutions for a better tomorrow. I hope every child across the region will join in and imagine it too, and I can’t wait to see their submissions this year.”
The global Voices of the Future Generation competition has been running since 2014. It was developed to give children a platform to voice their hopes and aspirations for a sustainable future – all through the written word. Since its launch, the programme has published at least a dozen books featuring children’s writing.
A regional wing of the competition was first launched in 2020.
The 2022 competition is now open to all children aged between 8 and 12 residing in the Gulf region. Entries can be in either Arabic or English, and between 600 and 1,500 words long.
The adventure stories have to feature themes around children’s rights and sustainable development, and the writer’s hopes, dreams or aspirations for a sustainable future. The early submission deadline is Sunday, April 10. The regional competition is organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation on behalf of Sheikha Hissa.
“We are so proud to be supporting HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum in her role as Goodwill Ambassador for the Voices of Future Generations initiative, and we are delighted to launch this book today,” Isobel Abulhoul, chief executive and trustee of the foundation, said during the book launch. "We believe stories are the best way to change hearts, minds and behaviours, and these stories published today will inspire great change and remind us that we can do better.”