A few days ago, exactly on the 17th of June 2014, an international Arabic writing competition has been released from the heart of Egypt with an intention to “help in globalizing the Arabic language” as Mahmoud Mansi, founder of the contest, clarifies below.
The Umm Kulthum Literary Contest is launched to encourage Arabic speakers to write a fictional short story inspired by one of the classical iconic Egyptian singers who had a magnanimous impact on Egyptians, Arabs, and foreigners until this very day. Umm Kulthum was also a songwriter and film actress. One of her common nicknames is Kawkab al-Sharq “Star of the East”.
Umm Kulthum is much known for the national role she had that her face was once imprinted on the Egyptian one Pound coin. Her powerful voice remained a challenge over decades for the audience and for other singers.
Mansi explains further, “The Arabic language has started to take part in the globalization of languages, as many learners from Germany, UK, Korea, Italy, USA… etc, who seek to master this language. Some learn Arabic due to the recent political incidents in the Arab world and to understand the eastern culture, some learn Arabic because of Islam and their practice of the Holy Quran, while others are just curious or are purely in love with the shapes of Arabic letters.”
The idea of the competition is to write a short story in Arabic ranging between 1500 to 2000 words inspired by anything related to Umm Kulthum, for instance her voice, her personality, her lyrics, her parties, her nationalism, her life, her looks, her feminism… etc. The story can be in past, present, or future.
“I think through this competition we are encouraging those who master Arabic to take part in our literature as well, and showing them our sincere appreciation towards following their passion towards learning our native language,” Mansi says. The competition is hosted by The Forgotten Writers Foundation, Kayan Publishing House, and Alef Bookstores.
Contest for Arabic Speakers Guidelines:
More about Umm Kulthum:
One of Umm Kulthum’s Live Performances (with subtitles):