Applications open for Emirates Literature Foundation's second writing fellowship

Ten aspiring scribes in the UAE will be selected for the programme and mentored by critically acclaimed authors from around the world

The ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship supports authors through several initiatives, including talks and introductions to agents, editors and publishers. Photo: Emirates Literature Foundation
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The Emirates Literature Foundation Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship First Chapter is now accepting applications from aspiring scribes in the UAE.

As the only global standard writing mentorship programme in the region, the fellowship will support 10 selected writers of fiction through a number of initiatives.

These include exclusive talks with acclaimed authors, introductions to international agents, editors and publishers, and a trip to New York for special sessions at the Gotham Writers' Workshop.

“Community is at the core of the fellowship as it brings writers who don't know each other together,” Isobel Abulhoul, chief executive and trustee of Emirates Literature Foundation tells The National.

“Over the course of their fellowship and time together, they build a professional and personal friendship.”

The programme, which is now entering its second year, will offer six hours of one-to-one coaching from top international authors.

They are Jordanian author Jalal Barjas, British writer, poet and professor Will Eaves, Canadian author Alwyn Hamilton, Eritrean novelist and journalist Haji Jaber, Nigerian novelist Elnathan John, Iraqi author and journalist Inaam Kachachi, playwright and producer Greg Mosse, British novelist and screenwriter Tiffany Murray, Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir and British author Ali Sparkes.

Winners of the first ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship, which aims to foster a supportive community for writers in the UAE through a number of initiatives. Photo: Emirates Literature Foundation

“I'd encourage aspiring writers to apply for this fellowship because in our research and experience, this is one of the most extensive writers’ fellowships in the world,” says Ahlam Bolooki, festival director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

“We were so impressed with the level of entries we received in the first year. It was a difficult job for all the mentors to select the mentee that they would like to work with for the year. That was really promising for us as the organisers of the first chapter of the Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship.”

Serious scribes who write in either English or Arabic and have been working on a manuscript that’s ready to be refined, are encouraged to apply. All genres of adult fiction are considered, including Young Adult, but applicants must be aged 18 or older and have a good understanding of English to benefit from the workshops and guest talks.

Mona Al Ali, a writer selected for last year’s programme, says: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I would like all aspiring writers to apply to this fellowship.

“During our fellowship we were taught creative writing as well as the techniques of writing. We had many useful and fruitful sessions with international authors, whether it's in publishing or about their journey in writing.”

Sarah Abdullah, another writer from last year's selection, says: “The experience of the fellowship exceeded my expectations. We knew we would get the mentorship and the sessions, but what it gave us is a community of writers among the fellows, which was extremely important. This fellowship is the only reason I'm able to finish my novel.”

Aspiring writers can apply through an online form that requires a covering letter, a 400-word synopsis of their book and the first 2,000 words of the almost-completed manuscript, if one is in progress.

Applications close on November 25 and the new fellows will be announced at an event during next year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

More information is at

Updated: September 16, 2022, 3:19 PM