A page of more or less local competitions, open calls, residencies and other opportunities open to the Gulf’s creative community

Emirates LitFest Writing Prize


DEADLINE 12 December 2021
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Submit synopsis and sample writing for a first-time novel

  • Fiction only
  • English only
  • Works submitted to previous LitFest Writing Prize competitions are ineligible
  • Enter with …
    – 400-word synopsis
    – first 2,000 words of the manuscript (double-spaced printing, pages numbered)
  • Entry fee AED 200 per entry (multiple entries permitted)
  • New for this year, the prize will be judged by a jury of two agents and one publisher:
    – literary agent Luigi Bonomi, founder of Luigi Bonomi Associates
    – literary agent Sheila Crowley from Curtis Brown
    – Kira Jean, founder and CEO of independent publisher The Dreamwork Collective
  • All valid entries will be read by all judges
  • No explicit criteria for success, but Bonomi has some tips for writing a winner here
  • Winner announced during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2022 (3-12 February) and must be available to attend the prize-giving event
  • Must be resident of the GCC (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) are eligible.
  • First-time novelists only (ie those “who have never had a book professionally published”: we think this means a work of fiction, not for instance non-fiction business or educational books)
  • Entrants must not be currently represented by or working with a literary agent
  • Minimum age 18 (says the website) or 21 (says the press release). Probably best to believe the website

  • Winner is announced at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Dubai, 3-12 February)
  • Winner gets a one-hour one to one with each of the judges for feedback and advice. There are usually additional goodies (pens, books, trips etc)
  • No guarantee that winners get an agent, let alone a book deal, but since 2013 the prize has produced 10 published authors with 26 books between them

Paramount Film Competition


DEADLINE 31 December 2021
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Submit script for a short film to be filmed at Paramount Hotel Dubai; 15 scripts will be filmed, prizes awarded

  • Submit script …
    – min 3 max 10 minutes
    – any genre
    – standard screenplay format
    – “scripts must maintain the Paramount Picture standards and charm” (not sure that means)
  • Location must be the Paramount Hotel Dubai exclusively (you can use any location within the hotel). Location catering will be provided
  • Teams applying can be up to five members (or more, though only five will be recognised)
  • Submit by email to marketing@paramounthoteldubai.com. Minimum requirement seems to be script plus crew, cast and equipment lists; “directors’ treatments, storyboards, shot lists, and showreels will help your team’s chances of selection”
  • Applicants must be available to shoot in the second week of January. Each will be allocated one day of filming and allowed three days for editing
  • 15 scripts will be selected “by our executive producers and celebrity judges” for screening at the Paramount’s screening room. A final three will then be selected and screened at the closing gala, along with the films awarded in other categories; winners will be selected by “our celebrity judges and audiences”
  • Awards:
    – film of the year
    – actor of the year
    – actress of the year
    – sound specialist of the year
    – DOP of the year
    – writer of the year
  • No entry fee
  • None stated

  • Awards:
    – film of the year
    – actor of the year
    – actress of the year
    – sound specialist of the year
    – DOP of the year
    – writer of the year
  • The film-of-the-year winning team receives
    – kudos
    – a contract with Paramount Hotel Dubai to create video content for the brand for one year
    – Paramount Exclusive A list membership cards
    – unlimited access to the screening room for one year

Iwan Maktabi Lab Carpet Design Competition


DEADLINE 31 December 2021 (but might be extended)

Submit a design for a UAE 50th Anniversary carpet

  • Produce a design for a carpet that honours the UAE’s 50th anniversary
  • No other details as to size, style, transfer of design (printed or woven), etc: presumably the intention is to make the competition as wide as possible
  • Online entry form here includes …
    – description of the design
    – uploaded design (no stated restrictions in file size or type)
  • No obvious protection for IP
  • No entry fee
  • UAE resident or citizen

  • One or more winning designs are turned into carpets. No indication of financial or contractual terms

First Chapter: ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship


DEADLINE 2 January 2022
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Free year-long writing mentorship programme for ten aspiring novelists

  • The first ever writers’ fellowship in the region; “unprecedented” access to renowned authors, literary agents and publishers; learn how to craft a novel, nurture and develop writing skills, meet with editors and agents, network with fellow writers
  • Accepted writers (“fellows”) will take part in:
    – six 60-minute one-to-one mentorship sessions (at a mutually agreed time and date)
    – 40 hours guided learning: six full-day Saturday sessions, plus two-hour evening sessions on Tuesdays (workshops and talks by visiting authors and experts, readings of the members’ work, peer feedback)
    – a short writing class held by partner writing institutions “such as” Gotham Writers Workshop and Faber Academy. This will allow successful applicants to tailor the programme towards their particular interests, by taking a class in crime writing, historical fiction, or any other specific writing-related subject
    – a ‘writing trip’ to a festival or a writing course/retreat
  • Apply with
    – cover letter (English only)
    – 400-word synopsis of your manuscript (Arabic or English, any genre of fiction)
    – 2000 words of the manuscript (Arabic or English) … 1
  • 10 fellows will be selected – “will be a mix of Arabic and English writers” (good command of English required)
  • Must reside in UAE for the duration of the programme
  • Those selected will be announced during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2022
  • Selected fellows agree to the use of their identity for PR purposes
  • Organised by Emirates Literature Foundation (which runs LitFest), sponsored by Seddiqi Holding
  • No entry fee
  • UAE-resident
  • 18 years or older

  • 10 selected fellows join the year-long programme
    – one-to-one mentorship sessions
    – 40 hours guided learning, workshops and talks, readings and critiques
    – writing class from partner writing institutions
    – ‘writing trip’ to a festival or a writing course

GRIT: A Play Reading Festival


DEADLINE 9 January 2022
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Submit unpublished scripts to be presented to a small audience via Zoom by a small company of actors

  • GRIT will present a series of new plays written by emerging writers in weekly play readings streamed live via Zoom over a one-month period (probably February 2022)
  • Scripts should be …
    – by new and emerging writers
    – between 30 to 75 mins run time
    – unpublished
    – “at an advanced stage of development”
  • Scripts should “ amplify emerging and traditionally marginalised voices, including but not limited to: people of colour, gender non-conforming and LGBTQIA+ communities, immigrants and descendants of immigrants, women, and members of the working class”
  • Selected scripts will be rehearsed and presented by a company of actors
  • Submit by email to company.exit11@gmail.com with – a draft of the text – a brief description of why you’d like to present your writing at GRIT (350 words)
  • Organiser is Exit 11 Performing Arts
  • No fee for submission
  • None stated

  • Unspecified number of scripts will be selected for performance via Zoom

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2022


DEADLINE 31 January 2022
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Propose and create an artwork that, “in the spirit of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work”, can be publicly exhibited and enjoyed.

  • Open to UAE-based students and recent graduates
  • Any medium including (but not limited to) photography, sculpture, installation, land art and video
  • Individuals or teams may enter
  • Submissions need a mentor who commit to guide and support applicants throughout the production and installation of the work. The mentor can be a practising artist, a current or past academic, a client, a gallerist – “anyone whom you would like to work with”
  • Apply online with
    – personal statement
    – artistic proposal with up to 5 supporting documents (jpeg and/or pdf)
    – production schedule
    – production budget
  • No entry fee
  • UAE-based students and recent graduates (no nationality constraints, and it seems the college doesn’t have to be in the UAE provided you count the country as where you are based)

  • Winner gets up to $10,000 to complete the installation
  • Winning artwork will be publicly exhibited in Abu Dhabi, in November 2022