From Abu Dhabi, Alaa Janib returns to Egypt with Prince of Poets Burda
ABU DHABI - After dreaming of reaching the finals, Egyptian Alaa Janib was crowned the Prince of Poets in Abu Dhabi, winning the coveted reality television title and a Dh1 million prize.
Janib was also honoured with a Burda (a cloak) symbolising Arab heritage and a ring denoting an emir, or prince.
Cheers erupted among Egyptian and other Arab fans at Al Raha Beach Theatre when Janib was crowned.
The Arabic literature lecturer at Cairo University claimed the top prize in the fifth series of the Prince of Poets show, which attracted more than 20 million viewers from across the Arab world. In the final episode, he saw off competition from five rivals.
Yemeni Yahya Wahhash finished second in the show, earning a silver medal and Dh500,000 . Third place was secured by Sheikh walad Bilamash from Mauritania who received a bronze medal and Dh300,000.
Omani Hisham Al Saghri won fourth position and received a bronze medal and Dh200,000.
Fifth position went to Saudi Arabian Mohammed Abu Shararah who received a bronze medal and Dh100,000. Linda Ibrahim, from Syria, was voted out before the finale took place.
Thousands of people applied to participate in the show but only 300 were selected. That number was whittled down to 20 poets who took part in the live shows aired on Abu Dhabi TV starting from May 1.
Janib, a 40-year-old Egyptian, had penned two diwans (collection of poetry) and five research and critical theses. He started writing poetry at the age of 16.
During his poetry session, Janib spoke on a diverse range of topics. He tackled historic and current political unrest in the Arab region. He also dedicated some his poems to the UAE's visionary leaders, notably the late Sheikh Zayed, the country's founding father (May God Rest his Soul).
"I got to this position with the love of people from across the Arab world," Janib said. "I thank them all but I believe that everybody who took part in this competition deserve the same honour as they all are very proficient in their poetic dialogue.”
"I would also thank those who are engaged in reviving the Arabic language once again through poetry," he added.
Prince of Poets is the first of its kind in the Arab world. A cultural competition launched by Abu Dhabi in April 2007, the show is aimed at promoting and enhancing classical Arabic poetry, reviving the positive role of Arabic poetry, and discovering young talents.
It has been that successful that its ratings have even overtaken those of football and other reality television programmes.
A judging panel of established poets and critics offer feedback on the entries, while the studio audience and viewers at home vote for who they want to win.
Prince of Poets is similar to another Emirati poetry competition, Million's Poet, which promotes Nabati (Bedouin) poetry, while Prince of Poets promotes classical Arabic poetry.
The contest is named after the late Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawqi, whose peers gave him the title Prince of Poets in 1927.
The Poetry Academy in Abu Dhabi publishes audio-visual poetry collections of the five winners.