Go to the top
featured image

Emirates NBD Poetry For All Competition

Emirates NBD Poetry For All Competition


About the Competition:

Emirates NBD Poetry For All is an annual competition run by the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to celebrate poetry performance and recital.
Students learn poetry by heart and give an emotional response to the language and ideas of the poet.

Important update – new for 2021!

  • The festival dates are 4 – 6 February 2021.
  • Key dates to note:
    Registration opens13 September 2020
    Registration closes14 October 2020
    Semi-final round1 – 12 November 2020
    Final RoundMarch 2021 (TBC)
  • Entrants performing in English and Arabic are required to recite a poem of their choice from the lists provided on this website.
  • Finalists for 2021 Announced! To view the list of finalists click here.

How the Competition Works

Round 1: (Internal School Round):
  • Each school chooses how to select the best two students per age group, using internal judges
  • The age groups are 8-13 and 14-18.
  • Each student can participate in Arabic or in English.
  • Students need to choose a poem from the list provided on our website.
  • The school’s official Teacher/Coordinator should register the selected students and their poems, chosen from the provided list, on or before 14 October 2020.
Round 2: (Inter-school Semi-final Round):
  • The semi-final will take place from 1 – 12 November 2020
  • Please note: Due to the current pandemic of COVID-19 and taking into consideration social distancing measures, this round will be virtual. More details regarding the procedure will follow closer to the date of the competition.
  • Registered schools will receive an email about the virtual procedure, date, and timings
  • Each student will recite the poem they selected when registering online for the competition
  • For the 14-18 age category, students need to prepare and perform a justification on why they have chosen the poem (not exceeding 50 words).
  • The judges will select the students who will go forward to the finals.
  • An email will be sent to all participating schools announcing the finalists
Round 3: Final Round
  • The final round will be held during the Month of Reading in March 2021.
  • An email will be sent to all finalists including the details of the final round, venue and timings
  • Students must perform the same poem as in the semi-final round.
  • The judges will evaluate each finalist’s performance and the winners for each age group will then be announced.
  • The judges’ decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.


The winners in each category will be honoured in a ceremony during the Month of Reading in March 2021 and will receive winners’ plaques.

Click here to view the winners of the 2020 edition of the competition.

Judges’ Criteria:

Confident delivery:
The auditory impact of the performance; volume, pace, clarity of pronunciation in the student’s natural accent make an engaging performance. The listeners must be pulled in and feel compelled to hear every word.

Understanding the poem: 
The student should demonstrate an understanding of the poem, conveying this clearly to the audience.

Conveying the sentiment of the poem:
The student should interpret the poem so that it is enhanced but not embellished.

Fluency & Accuracy:
The judges will have a copy of the poem to check for accuracy. The poem should be performed using the exact words of the poet, with fluency and understanding.

Overall performance: 
The way in which the performer presents himself/ herself will add to the recitation, including appearance, making eye contact with the audience, displaying confidence and using appropriate body language.

Justification of chosen poem:
This criterion is a requirement for students in the 14 – 18 years old category only. Students need to explain in 50 words or less why they chose their specific poem.


For the semi-final round, students must choose a poem to recite from the lists shown below:

Schools requiring clarification on the exact text of the poem should contact Dania Droubi at [email protected].

Please read the following points carefully

  • Schools wishing to enter students in the English competition should use the form below, while those entering in Arabic should click here
  • Schools can enter two students per age category/per language
  • The school’s official Teacher/Coordinator should register the selected students and their chosen poems on or before 14 October 2020.
  • Participating schools should use the above criteria for their internal round (Round 1) to select students for the semi-final round.
  • For further queries regarding the Emirates NBD Poetry For All Competition, please contact our Competitions Manager, Dania Droubi on 04 355 9844 or at [email protected].

Terms and Conditions

  • Entrants must be UAE residents, in full-time education, and in the specified age groups of (8-13) or (14-18) by 14 October 2020
  • Each school can enter a maximum of two students per age group per language.
  • Schools must conduct Round 1 and register students via the website by the specified date of 14 October 2020.
  • The entrants give permission for the Emirates Literature Foundation, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Emirates NBD to publicise photographic images of the participating students in all stages of the competition in related publicity material and activities. Schools should be aware that they might need to obtain parental consent for this.
  • Judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.
  • Please note that participating schools which do not adhere to the said terms and conditions will be disqualified.
  • By entering the competition, entrants agree to observe the terms and conditions of the competition.

Enter the competition

Registration is now closed.

Meet the Judges


Alex Broun author photo

Alex Broun
With over thirty years of experience in the performing arts, Alex Broun is one of the UAE’s leading theatre directors, writers and producers as well as former General Manager of DUCTAC, the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre. Currently, Alex is the Head of Drama at Studio Republik, co-ordinating and teaching their drama classes for adults and children in screen and stage acting, screenwriting and public speaking. As a writer, Alex has had over 100 different ten-minute plays produced in over 2000 productions in over 40 countries all over the globe and his website is one of the most popular in the world for downloading ten-minute, one-act and full length plays.


Penny MacKenzie author photo

Penny MacKenzie
Dubai Theatre Doyen. She is involved in onstage and backstage but mostly directing theatrical productions for over 35 years. Penny is a passionate lover of poetry. She is also involved with theatre in schools, in particular with Improv Theatresports. Improv teaches students to embrace a situation that goes wrong and turn it into a positive and is famous for the story building phrase “Yes and ….”

Satya Baskaran author photo

Satya Baskaran
Satya Baskaran is an actor, director and drama coach who has been working professionally since 2014 across the UK and Dubai. A graduate from the University of Birmingham’s Drama and Theatre Arts programme, Satya has performed across theatre, film and commercial projects. Since his return to Dubai in 2019, Satya won the Best Play award at the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival, the largest of its kind in the MENA region. He is currently starring in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which will premier at the Junction Theatre in December.

Dr. Afra Atiq author photo

Dr. Afra Atiq
Dr. Afra Atiq is an Emirati Poet and spoken word artist. She has a PhD in media and the creative industries. Her research focuses on how social media is changing the Arab Literature sphere. Dr. Afra has been featured on numerous stages across the world and has been granted multiple awards for her poetry.


Enter Your Email