x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

And the winner is ?

Nasser al Ajami of Kuwait was declared this year's winner of the Million's Poet competition, and Dh5m, after beating the four other finalists in the television contest.

Nasser al Ajami saw off competition from 47 poets to take the honorary poetry title.
Nasser al Ajami saw off competition from 47 poets to take the honorary poetry title.

ABU DHABI // Kuwait's Nasser al Ajami, 30, was declared the Million's Poet last night after winning the television contest and walking away with Dh5 million (US1.36m). In the show, which began five months ago, Nasser saw off competition from 47 poets to take the honorary poetry title. The 48 poets were selected from thousands of applicants. In the final episode, Nasser competed with four other rivals. The competition features Nabati poetry and is funded by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage to help keep alive the native poetry of the Arabian Peninsula.

Nasser received 67 per cent from the total number of public votes and judge points. Falah al Mowraqi of Kuwait came second with 63 per cent of the points and took away Dh4m while the Saudi poetess Hissa Hilal came third with 62 per cent of the points and a prize of Dh3m. Kuwait's Sultan al Asaimar came fourth with 59 points, winning Dh2m, and Saudi Arabia's Jazaa al Baqmi came fifth with 56 pointnts, picking up Dh1m. The winner was chosen on the basis of the judges' evaluations and audience votes via the in-theatre voting pods and SMS voting throughout the show.

Nasser, 30, said after winning although he was not positive he would win, he was very optimistic. "The competition was very strong," he said. Nasser is a poetry novice who began developing an interest in the art nine years ago although he never participated in public or published any of his work. Unlike other participants, who prepared for years before entering the competition, he said he wrote his poems day by day during the show. He said he would donate part of his prize money to charity, spend some of it to repay his debts and use the rest to buy a house.

The show, which has 18 million viewers throughout the Arab world, attracted international media attention after Hissa Hilal recited a poem denouncing "ad hoc" fatwas. Her poem sparked controversy in her home country and she received death threats. She defied the threats, however, the following week by reciting a similar poem confirming her stance. The show was broadcast live, from Al Raha Beach Theatre, every Wednesday at 10.30pm on Abu Dhabi TV. In previous seasons, there were female contestants but none before had made it to the finale. The poets in this series came from 12 countries, including the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. In the first televised stage of the contest, which began on December 16, eight poets competed in each of the first six episodes. hhassan@thenational.ae