ABU DHABI // The Arab world's most popular TV show is back - and with a psychological twist.
Contestants in Million's Poet will be analysed by a professional psychologist, who will reveal her conclusions to viewers at the end of each episode.
"We will analyse their personality and self-confidence through psychological tests and I will assess their body language during the live episodes," said Dr Nadia Bu Hannad, the contest's designated psychologist.
The 48 poets competing for Dh15 million prize money in this year's show have been chosen from more than 20,000 who applied from across the Arab world, including Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The contest is open to all Arab nationals aged 18 to 45, but organisers received entry poems from applicants aged 11 to 80.
The names of the Emirati poets chosen will be announced today, before tonight's first round at Al Raha Beach Theatre, broadcast live on Abu Dhabi TV from 10pm.
The show attracts an international audience of 110 million.
"Nabati poetry is the legacy of the UAE and the contest is important for its future," said Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, the director of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), which organises and funds the contest.
"We want to give the market a range of new poets."
Sultan Al Omemi, director of Adach’s Poetry Academy and a contest committee member, said there was a clear need to promote Nabati poetry and to make more people aware of it.
“It’s a way for people to send out messages to the public and to give their opinion.”
The poets who have qualified have already undergone written and oral psychological tests.
“These tests will give a new evaluation to the poets, which is extremely important because it’s a reflection of oneself,” said Mr Omemi.
The poets will also be judged on their presentation and the delivery of their poems in front of a panel of three judges from Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE.
Mr Omemi said the new criteria would help judges and the voting public to choose the elite of poets. Poetry rhyme, poetic language, technique structure, metaphors, similes and other language structures will also be assessed.
“In any field, it is required to know who the person in front of us is,” said Dr Bu Hannad. “You’re not dealing with numbers but personalities and how they reflect on their work.”
The Arabic poetry world has also been boosted by a new weekly cultural poetry programme, to be hosted by Arif Omar and broadcast on Wednesday nights. The show will feature a contest called Al Maghanee, which will analyse the previous episode and include general discussions on local and regional cultural affairs.
The winner of this year’s Million’s Poet, and its Dh5m first prize, will be decided at the end of March. The runners-up, from second to fifth, will receive Dh4m, Dh3m, Dh2m and Dh1m.
The last contest in 2010 was won by the Kuwaiti poet Nasser Al Ajami, with 67 per cent of the public vote and points from the judging panel. The Saudi Arabian poet Hissa Hilal defied death threats after her recital of a poem denouncing “ad hoc” fatwas.