Okaz Poetry Competition Prepares to Crown Winner in Taif Season

 

Preparations are continuing for the final stage of the Okaz International Poetry competition, being held as part of the inaugural Taif Season. The jury is evaluating and selecting the final 10 contenders, out of 161 entrants from 11 Arab countries, who are competing for cash prizes of more than 2 million riyals.

The “Okaz Poet” award, organized by “Taif Season” in collaboration with the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, has a new look this year, with the final stages of the competition being televised for the first time ever.

The organizing committee was keen to develop and raise the level of competition – and the cash value of the prizes – to reflect the historical and cultural importance of Souk Okaz as the most famous Arab market since the pre-Islamic era, and to showcase the level of poetic talent and enhance the status of classical poetry in contemporary Arabic poetry.

A specialized committee from Taif University, a partner in the Okaz Poet award, prepared the concept, framework and conditions for the competition. The final winner will be selected by the jury, which includes three distinguished scholars: Dr. Saleh bin Ziad al-Ghamdi from Saudi Arabia, Dr. Rachid Yahyaoui from Morocco, and Dr. Ali Bin Jaafar al-Allaq from Iraq.

A committee of five academics and critics from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Taif University and the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, selected the final 22 poets, with all entries evaluated on their creative level, depth of ideas and quality of delivery. The committee stipulated that poets nominated for the award should have at least one published poem.

The level of entries showed a high level of creativity, with a number of poets having already won awards or reached advanced stages in competition. Many of the competing poets have also been the subject of scholarly research, including masters’ and doctoral thesis.

The 22 poets selected compete in two rounds before the committee, with the final three competing in front of a TV audience. The overall winner will receive 1 million riyals, with the runner-up winning 500,000 riyals, and the third-placed 250,000 riyals. The contestants placed from fourth to tenth receive 50,000 riyals each.

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