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

The launch of the First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship at the MBR Library in Dubai on Wednesday. From left to right: Eman Al Yousuf, Sara Abdullah, Annabel Kantaria, Isobel Abulhoul, Ahlam Bolooki, Najwa bin Shatwan, Zana Bonafe and Mustafa Alrawi.
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: 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, 10 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 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 resident in the UAE.

“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.”

The mentors

This year’s mentors include Jalal Barjas, Will Eaves, Alwyn Hamilton, Haji Jaber, Elnathan John, Inaam Kachachi, Greg Mosse, Tiffany Murray, Yrsa Siggurdottir and Ali Sparkes.

Potential applicants can join a free online workshop on October 1 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 2,000 words of the almost completed manuscript, if one is in process.

Applications open today (September 15) and close on November 25.

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