University students united by a love of the rhyme of Arabic poetry. Although their affiliations varied as citizens and residents of different nationalities, the love of the Arabic language united them. This morning, dozens of young poets flocked to Qatar University to participate in the “Poet of Universities” competition organized by the Ministry of Culture as represented by the Qatar Poetry Center (Diwan Al-Arab), in cooperation with Qatar University, civil and military universities and colleges, in the categories of classical Arabic poetry and Nabati (vernacular) poetry; where it will continue until next March.

Mr. Shabib Bin Arar Al-Nuaimi, Director of the Qatar Poetry Center, pointed out that “there is a huge turnout for the competition on its first day, which is devoted to interviewing the participating poets by the jury in order to select and see who deserves to qualify for the next stage.” He, further, noted that the first requirement for acceptance in order to pass the first stage is the presence of the poetic element or talent of the participant, which qualifies and enables him to progress in the following stages of the competition- up to the final stage. Mr. Al-Nuaimi added that the mechanism of the competition depends on the jury’s evaluation of the participating poets on themes they are asked to compose poetry over, until the stage of 24 participants is reached where a basic poem of improvised verses is composed; until reaching the conclusion stage. He explained that a theme will be determined for each of the four stages through which the competition will work, provided that in the last stage, 6 poets, 3 from Nabati and 3 from classical, will be qualified to compete for the first three places in the competition.

For his part, poet Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sada, a member of the jury of the “Poet of Universities” competition, expressed his hope that through this edition of the competition a new generation of young poets will emerge, expressing at the same time his admiration for a number of poems by the participating poets.  In addition, regarding the combination of classical and Nabati poetry in the competition, Mr. Al-Sada said: “Undoubtedly Nabati poetry has its own rhymes, poets and interested readers. Classical poems, similarly, are not merely characterized by rhyme that gives them value, but the poetic image and the deep meaning of the poems are what give them another depth and dimension”. Moreover, with regard to whether there is a directive for the participating poets to compose poems for specific purposes or themes, Mr. Mohammed Al-Sada pointed out that the competition is not on a special theme as it is the case with the “Prophet’s Poet” award, which is on praising the Messenger of God (PBUH). Rather, all purposes are collected, whether in praise of the Messenger (PBUH), patriotic poems, or sentimental poems and other purposes or themes.

In turn, poet Zayed Croz, a member of the competition’s jury, said that a number of poets were hesitant to participate in the competition, but with the competition’s success in its past two editions, it gave a strong drive to them to progress and compete for the title, especially due to the fame that the competition brought to the winners. Mr. Croz also explained that the organizing committee, through the third edition of the competition, is taking important steps to develop and move it forward to a higher level through the Qatari media that increase its popularity.

Among the poets who compete for the title is Masoud Al-Shafoul Al-Marri in the Nabati poetry category of the competition. Poet Masoud pointed out that the Diwan Al Arab Center, which organizes the competition in cooperation with Qatar University, is the supporter of the poetry scene in Qatar, whether through this competition or other competitions it organizes or supervises. He also said he would compete by a poem about refugees, wishing to win the jury’s confidence and reach everyone’s admiration. He, moreover, stated that the poetry scene in Qatar is full of poets in “Nabati” category and most of them are creative, and that his role model is not so much a particular poet but he was influenced by the great poems which remained memorable across generations.

The current edition of the “Poet of Universities” competition is an initiative that serves poetry and poets in general, with a spirit of competition among poets, according to poet Mohammed Nasser al-Marri who did not disclose his poem or its theme. He explained that each category of poetry, whether Nabati or classical, has its own audience, as the scene is full of featured poets, noting that the “art of shilat” and singing poems, made them closer to the general public, where the meaningful word when mixed with the beautiful melody contributes to its spread, as well as the “art of dialogue” which highlights the poet’s talent and intuition.

One of the young poets aspiring to achieve a good result in the course of the competition is Abdul Malik Mohsen Rabah of Yemen, who believes that the competition is a catalyst for young poets, and that when he knew about it and its details, he wrote a poem about pride in grandparents and lineages. Abdul Malik Rabah, further, explained that pride in lineages and grandparents is one of the reasons behind the nation’s lack of unity, pointing out that his poem is a call to stay on the right path on which we were directed by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Rabah has been writing and mastering poetry for sometime, which enabled him to accurately express his feelings and thoughts.

Taher Mukhtar Hassan, a lover of the “Khaliliya” category of poetry, recited his rhymes to the jury in the hope of winning their admiration and moving forward to the final stage of the competition. Taher Hassan of Nigeria said he has been writing poetry since his first year at the university, and that he reads to leading Arab poets, such as Abu Tayeb al-Mutanabbi, Ahmed Shawky, Hafiz Ibrahim and others. He added that he also learned poetry from local Nigerian poets such as Mohamed Belo, Osman Ben Fodi and Ali Mustafa Lone.

It is worth mentioning that the jury consists of the following poets: Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sada, Zayed Croz, Ali Al-Massoudi, Hadan Sabah Al-Kubaisi, and Mubarak Al Khalifa. The prize money for the competition is QR 180,000, with the first place holder receiving 50,000 riyals, the second receiving 25,000 riyals, while the third place holder will receive 15,000 riyals in each poetry category.
The competition is part of a keen effort to enrich Qatar’s poetry movement among students of universities and military and civil colleges, as Qatar Poetry Center believes in supporting poetic talent and creating the right literary atmosphere for poets to enrich the scene with their creativity.