Saudi Arabia’s Iyad Al Hakami was crowned ‘Ameer Al Shu’ara’, The Prince of Poets in the seventh season of the highly popular talent quest.
In what was a night of celebration for the kingdom, the second position was also taken by a Saudi national, Tariq Al Sumayli.
Al Hakam’s win was the second consecutive season a Saudi national has won the title with last season’s winner being Heydar Al Abd Elah.
“My dream has come true,” said Al Hakami, who is from the port city Jizan, in the south west corner of Saudi Arabia.
Besides Dh1 million and the regional bragging rights that come with the title, Al Hakam also received a special ring and a golden ‘burdah’ bisht like cloak – a throwback to the prestigious position an Arab poet of the royal courts once held.
The third place went to Hassan Ali Amer from Egypt, while Chaikhna Haidara from Mauritania and Iraqi’s Afyaa Al Asadi came fourth and fifth respectively.
Winners are chosen through a mix of public voting and a three-men jury panel, with the latter forming 60 percent of the final marks.
This year, a voting mobile app was launched to encourage voter participation.
Organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee in Abu Dhabi, The Prince of Poets was launched in 2007,and takes place once every two years. It awards poetry composed in “Al Faseeh” (classical) Arabic language, with cash prizes ranging from Dh1 million for first prize and Dh100,000 for the fifth.
The five finalists will also have their collection of poems published.
Live episodes were broadcasted every Tuesday evening, from 10pm, from Al Raha Beach Theatre in Abu Dhabi, on Baynouna and Al Emarat TV channels.
Over the past 10 years the show has showcased 185 poets, aged between 18 and 45 from around the Arab world.
“The show really helped renew interest in classical poetry,” said Sultan Al Amimi, director of the Poetry Programme at Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee.
“Each year we see stronger and better contestants. It is like they paid attention to the comments of the judges, took notes from the previous seasons and came more prepared for the latest one,” he says.
The same committee oversees The Prince of Poet’s sister show, The Million’s Poet, which is focused on local Nabati dialect spoken in the Gulf. Both launched in 2007, the two shows alternate each year, with The Million’s Poet to return for its latest edition at the end of the year.