Six students from the UAE have been selected as the winners of the first regional Voices of Future Generations writing competition.
The winners were announced on Sunday, September 27, in an online awards ceremony streamed from the Zabeel Ladies Club in Dubai. The initiative, held under the patronage of Unesco, was created to promote sustainability awareness as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.
The global competition, which has been running since 2014, 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 12 books featuring children’s writing, including an anthology of eight short stories and 11 individual books. This is the first time that the Middle East has taken part in the competition.
The regional wing of the competition was organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation on behalf of Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid, Goodwill Ambassador for the initiative in the region.
“This competition asks children to think more deeply about all the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how we treat our planet and each other,” Sheikha Hissa said in a statement. “The eloquent and imaginative stories submitted have made it very clear to me that young people have both the vision and the will to change our world for the better.
“From discrimination and tolerance and the urgent need to preserve water in the face of climate change, to plastic pollution, Green Warriors and camels, the range and ingenuity has been exceptional,” she said. “I am so proud of our talented children and the vision that they have created for the future.”
The inaugural competition received almost 600 submissions in Arabic and English from children across the UAE. The winning entries will be published in a book and sent to schools across the globe.
In the Arabic category, Saud Ahmad Salem Alkabi, 8, a student from the Omair bin Abi Waqas Cycle 1 Governmental School, won first place for his story Saud and Chess. Abdulkarim Ghazal, 11, from Al Shola Private School, came in second place with Be Aware, while Ahmad Ismail Zandah, 12, from Al Kamal Private School, came in third with his story Let's Help Shihab.
In the English category, Saira Thomas, 12, from Our Own English High School, came in first with The Green Warrior. Sashini Manikandan, 12, from Delhi Private School won second place with Jamila's Habibi. Shahid Fayis, 11, of Delhi Private School, came in third with Create The Chain.
How to enter the competition
The awards ceremony also marked the launch of the second iteration of the competition in the region. The event is open to all children aged 8 to 12. Winners will have the chance to join a global council of prize-winning young authors, and have their work featured online and in inspirational books that will be sent to schools and libraries around the world.
All entries must be between 600 and 1,500 words long, in Arabic or English. The stories should feature one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the writer’s hopes, dreams or aspirations for a sustainable future. Entries are open to all children in the UAE and in full-time education, including those in home schooling. The competition will close in the first half of 2021.
“Children are the future, and the planet is theirs to inherit,” Isobel Abulhoul, chief executive and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, said. “We must give them a say, and truly listen to their voices when they share their vision for a better future. I can’t think of a better way for this vision to spread and take hold around the world than through stories. We must never underestimate the power of a story.”
For more information on the competition, visit vofg.vofgarabia.org