Winners during the awards ceremony. Registrations are open for the fifth cycle of the competition, 2023-2024. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The winners of the fourth round of the Voices of Future Generations for the Middle East 2023 were announced at an award ceremony at the Zabeel Ladies Club, where human and machine worked together in sync, as a robot introducing the hosts of the event.

In the spirit of the competition, which encourages children to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals and come up with creative solutions to overcome challenges, the ceremony was hosted by previous competition winners, the young authors Inayah Fathima Faeez and Nourah Ahmed Yousif Alnaqbi.

The event welcomed Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Goodwill Ambassador for the initiative for the region, and dignitaries including Sheikha Mozah bint Marwan bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri and Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid.

Sheikha Hissa said: “These children represent the generations that will inherit this earth, and unlocking their imaginations is the key to a sustainable future. I congratulate our young authors. It gives me so much pride to read their stories which are testament to their compassion and creativity. And I urge each one of you to listen to the powerful voices of our sustainability champions whose words are a blueprint for a better world for the planet and the people.”

Child authors, their families, and their teachers enjoyed a highlight film featuring the winners of the competition, before the top three winners were announced. They also had the opportunity to visit the Illustrator’s Corner, an exhibition of the illustrations by local artists featured in the first three anthologies of winning stories.

Winners - English category:

Goodness Lies Within by Mir Faraz, The Winchester School, Dubai

Aquamystica: A Story of Resilience by Shravni Nethra, Delhi Private School, Sharjah

Ray of Life by Siddhant Seth, Gems Millenium School, Sharjah

Winners - Arabic category:

My Grandfather’s Pearl by Jana Osama Mahfouz Tohami, Cambridge International, Dubai

The Dove Necklace by Lemar Walid Al-Zarqat, Al Zallaqah School, Abu Dhabi

The Special Child by Yousef Abu Issa, Summit International School, Abu Dhabi

Ahlam Bolooki, CEO, Emirates Literature Foundation said: “Storytelling serves as both the compass and fuel which guides these children, allowing them to craft narratives that present innovative solutions to the world’s problems with unparalleled passion and creativity, thereby inspiring positive and lasting change. These awards mean a lot to the Foundation and we want to make use of every opportunity to celebrate our young authors and their remarkable storytelling talents.”

Voices of Future Generations is a unique writing competition that promotes sustainability and the UN conventions on the Rights of the Child. It was launched under the patronage of UNESCO in 2014 and brought to the Middle East in 2019. The regional competition is organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation on behalf of Sheikha Hissa, the Goodwill Ambassador for the initiative for the Middle East. In October 2023, it was recognised by the GESS Education Awards as the Best CSR Programme for Education.

The competition, open to children aged 8 to 12, encourages children to write adventure stories about characters overcoming challenges and creating a more tolerant, sustainable world. The best entries are published in a book in Arabic and English and shared internationally. All entries must be between 600-1,500 words long and should feature one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the writer’s hopes, dreams, or aspirations for a sustainable future.

Entries are open to all children resident in the Gulf region and in full-time education, including those home schooling.

Registrations are open for the fifth cycle of the competition, 2023-2024.