Applications now open for First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship

September 15, 2022
Applications now open for First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship
From left to right - Eman Al Yousuf, Sara Abdullah, Annabel Kantaria, Isobel Abulhoul, Ahlam Bolooki, Najwa bin Shatwan, Zana Bonafe and Mustafa Alrawi

Free programme nurtures the writing stars of tomorrow

September 15th, 2022 (Dubai, UAE): Applications are now open for First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship, the only global standard mentorship programme in the region for aspiring writers from the UAE.

Now entering its second year, ten writers have already benefited from the first year of the Fellowship, with exclusive talks from internationally acclaimed authors Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith, introductions to international agents, editors and publishers, and a trip to New York for bespoke workshops at the Gotham Writers Centre. The key element of the programme is six hours of one-to-one coaching from top international authors.

“Anyone wanting to give their writing career a huge boost should jump at the chance to be part of this unique programme, which could open the door to international publishing success,” said Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

“Thanks to the support of our partners, Seddiqi Holding, we have created this unrivalled programme purposely with the aim to create a notable pool of authors based in the UAE but with a global audience. We are particularly keen to encourage Emiratis to apply, whether writing in Arabic or English, though we welcome applications from anyone who is a UAE resident.

“This year’s Fellows have really taken their opportunity and ran with it, with all expecting to submit their manuscripts to literary agents and publishers before their year is up. We know there are many other hugely talented writers within the region just waiting to tell their stories too and through this programme we are able to provide that additional help which will make the difference to unlocking their potential.”

This year’s mentors are:

Jalal Barjas

Will Eaves

Alwyn Hamilton

Haji Jaber

Elnathan John

Inaam Kachachi

Greg Mosse

Tiffany Murray

Yrsa Siggurdottir

Ali Sparkes

Potential applicants can join a free online workshop on October 1st, 2022, with tips on how to make their application stand out.

The development of the writers from Year 1 cements the importance of establishing this programme in our region. In line with the government’s vision to propel the country as a hub for media and creativity, Seddiqi Holding is proud to partner with Emirates Literature Foundation and further reinforce the importance of creating opportunities for up-and-coming writers in the UAE. We look forward to welcoming the Year 2 applicants to join us on this journey, one that is bound to transform and elevate their natural talent and flair. We would also like to thank our partners at Emirates Literature Foundation and the mentors from Year 1 for their support and dedication to the programme, as we embark on Year 2 of the ELF Seddiqi Writers Fellowship” said Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Seddiqi Holding.

Who is it for?

The programme is by selection only. Applications are invited from serious writers who are on their way to completing a novel in Arabic or English but want to get their manuscript into shape. All genres of adult fiction are welcome, including YA, though the Fellowship is not yet available to children’s authors. Mentoring takes place in Arabic or English. Applicants must have a good understanding of English in order to benefit from the workshops and guest author talks.

Anyone over 18 years of age, who calls UAE home and will be resident in the UAE for the duration of the programme may apply.

There will be opportunities to pitch to editors and literary agents at the end of the process, but publication or representation cannot be guaranteed. Successful completion of the course will be certified.

As the project grows, a mutually supportive writing community for alumni will develop that continues with ongoing support to nurture the writers after the programme has been completed.

Application Process

Application is via the online form, and requires a covering letter, a 400-word synopsis of the book and the first 2000 words of the almost completed manuscript, if one is in process.

Applications open on 15 September, 2022, and close on 25 November, 2022.

Names of successful applicants will be announced at a special event during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2023.

For more information and to apply for the Fellowship,

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.

 About the Emirates Literature Foundation:

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.

Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.

In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award, Kateb Maktub, and From the Inside Out, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and mentorship programmes. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2020 International Literary Festivals Conference, the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference and the 2016 Dubai Translation Conference.

The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival.

About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature:

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, featuring international and regional writers, poets, thinkers and speakers from around the world. Over the last 14 years more than 1,800 authors from over one hundred countries have spoken at the Festival. In 2022 the Festival reached more than 105,000 people, in person and via live streaming. Sessions included multi-talented top children’s author David Walliams, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck, Indra Nooyi ranked amongst the world’s 100 most powerful women executives, and Bridgerton author Julia Quinn, and the Education Programme featured children’s favourites Ali Sparkes, Rob Biddulph, Sanaa Chabbani, Gulnar Hajou and Ken Arto.

The aim of the Festival is to develop a culture of reading as an enjoyable habit in the UAE, and its efforts have been recognised through many awards over the years. By providing an equal platform for international and locally based talents, the Festival continues to build the literary landscape in the UAE and further afield. Alongside the main programme, the Festival organises an Education programme, reaching students across the seven emirates of the UAE. There are also student competitions, held in Arabic and English, which allow young people to showcase their skills through poetry, short stories and reading.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Festival is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal Decree. In partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be back in 2023. For information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website:

Seddiqi Holding

Seddiqi Holding was established in 2007 to consolidate the existing businesses belonging to the Seddiqi family into a holding group. As part of a growth strategy, the companies underwent a major restructure that saw the development of a succession plan for future generations and the establishment of an Executive Committee and Board of Directors as the governing bodies for Seddiqi Holding. The group operates a diverse collection of high-performing companies across various sectors. These include Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, the longest standing and largest business unit within the group; Swiss Watch Services; Seddiqi & Sons Investment which includes Seddiqi Properties and Mizzen.

Seddiqi Holding is managed by four generations of the Seddiqi family supported by a multinational workforce of over 900 employees. The company’s development is underlined by an ethical approach, built on the foundations laid by the late Ahmed Qassim Seddiqi, its visionary founder, of commitment to family, community and integrity.

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