Arab Spring at centre stage of Million's Poet competition

Saqqar Al Ouni memorably denounced terrorism

ABU DHABI - Million's Poet, the Arab World most popular TV program, premiered earlier this month from Shati Al Raha Auditorium in Abu Dhabi.
The show, in its fifth session, is organised and sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).
As expected, this season's contestants chose to highlight the region's unstable political situations, and, more importantly, to see how the region reacts to them.
Million’s Poet competition is serving as a platform, where political opinions concerning the big changes the Arab region has been witnessing recently, can be expressed freely.
In this season premiere, two Saudi poets stood out for their condemnation of cultural and religious extremism. One of them, Saqqar Al Ouni, memorably denounced terrorism, stating, "And no, there are no keys to heaven dangling over the homes of whom you terrorized."
"I am lucky to be a poet," Hajes Al Haroubi, a poet from Yemen, brandished a golden khanjar on his belt and demanded the world's attention, "for I get to create words that are made of gold and silver."

Haroubi: I am lucky to be a poet

The crowd gave him high marks, but the show's psychologist deemed him "arrogant."
Poet Badr Saoud Al-Wasmi found inspiration in the story of Tunisia’s revolution hero, Mohammed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation has become a catalyst for the Tunisian popular revolt and the wider Arab Spring.
Al Maghany, a new TV program that set to run in parallel to the show and analyze its content, has roamed the Arab World from north to south and from east to west, surveying the map of Arab poetry, in an episode, which was given the name ‘Geography of Poetry’.
Hosts of the program opened the way for many questions for their audiences so that they can start researching important issues related to the future of Arab poetry in general.
The program included discussions on poetry, poets and the Million’s Poet contest, and hosted number of experts, notably Raad Bandar, a culture advisor at the Poetry Academy, Dr Maitha Al Hamly, an intangible heritage advisor at ADACH, Khalaf Al Sultani, the founder of the Poetry News Agency and Shathaya electronic forum, and poet Abdul Rahman Al Shamari who was one of the earliest runners for the title in its first season. Dr Nadia Bu Hannod, the program psychologist, is present in both programs to analyze poets, their performances and their reactions. Her analysis added to the excitement of the show.
In the run-up to this season, the Arab world's most-watched TV show attracted more than 20,000 applicants from more than 20 countries.

Over the next few months, 48 pre-selected finalists will battle it out on a weekly basis on the UAE TV station AD Emarat TV and the Million's Poet Channel with the winner receiving a prize of five million dirhams (more than a million dollars).
Contestants are scored for their performance by a panel of three judges (one each from the UAE, Kuwait and Jordan), though, in a new twist this season, a psychologist also analyzes each contestant's personality.
The show is born from the region's tradition of Nabati poetry, a tribal poetry that often focuses on social concerns; and competing poets are thus allowed a sort of immunity to voice social/political opinions.
Since its launch in 2006, “Millions’ Poet” has managed to change the map of Nabati poetry, and at last do it justice in the poetry arena.
Million’s Poet provides a true measure of the poets’ talents and demonstrates how their work is accepted by the public. The program is based on an open and fair competition, impartial jury and a poetry-aware public as well as transparency and credibility in the presentation and performance of the chosen works. The contest has undoubtedly attracted the largest audience for a poetry contest, both in the region and worldwide.
The international media has hailed ADACH’s tireless efforts to improve Nabati poetry. They recognize that this has been achieved through focusing on Abu Dhabi’s role and vision to embrace this kind of poetry, and a desire to air this cultural accomplishment to the whole world.
The world has shown great interest in the Million’s Poet program and the humanitarian message it carries. The role of ADACH has also achieved significance on the international cultural map, and comments from thousands of readers in the US and European media have been noted.
International news agencies stressed that the program has brought major changes to the world of Arabic poetry since its creation six years ago, saying "the program has helped to organize and arrange the Nabati poetry scene in a unique way. It is based on a combination of meticulous judging and the public vote, which has made the program a very important indicator for poets."