Sekka Literary Prize 2022

*Submissions for the competition are now closed, and are being reviewed by our panel of esteemed judges. Thank you to everyone who submitted their work for review. For those looking to take part in next year’s competition, stay tuned for additional details.

As part of our efforts to support talents from the Gulf region and wider Arab world, and introduce their works to international readers, Sekka is happy to launch, for the first time, its annual literary prize. There will be three winners, one for each category: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. There will also be a runner up in each category.

Submitters are welcome to send in fiction or nonfiction works and poetry works, in English or translated to English.

Submission Guidelines

  1. To be eligible to enter the competition, participants must be 18 years or older. Participants must also be of Arab ethnicity/nationality, or residents of an Arab country.
  2. Submitters do not have to be previously published writers or authors. However, all submitted work must be previously unpublished, original and exclusive to the prize at Sekka. Translated works can be previously published, but only in the original language, and this must be declared when submitting.
  3. Applicants must only submit under one category: fiction, non-fiction or poetry.
  4. All fiction and non-fiction submissions must be between 1,500 to 5,000 words. Submitters may only send in up to two pieces of prose in English, or translated to English. No resubmissions will be allowed.
  5. For poetry submissions, each submission can include up to 3 poems in English, or translated to English. Poetry subsmissions can be in structured or free form. The maximum length of the poems in total cannot exceed 12 pages. Please be mindful, however, that each poem must be complete and representative of its own. No resubmissions will be allowed.
  6. For translated submissions (whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry), the name of the translator must be included alongside the writer’s.
  7. Sekka does not publish works that are political or religious in nature . We also do not accept any work with reference to profanity. Any submission that does not abide by the guidelines may result in the submissions not to be considered. Submissions must be in Microsoft Document format, follow a double-spaced format and use Times New Roman of 12-point font. Submissions must also include a creative title that well represents the theme of the work.
  8. Along with your submission, please include a 150 word overview of the work and a 200 word bio of yourself that includes your full name, age, nationality, educational and professional background and other notable information, written in third person. For translated works, the translator’s bio should also be sent over. All bios may be edited by the Sekka team.
  9. Sekka does not provide translators to translate works, nor will it compensate writers for getting their works translated whether they are successful in the competition or not.
  10. Any submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines will not be reviewed.


The submissions will be reviewed and selected by our respected panel of judges:

Shahd Alshammari, PhD

Jonas Elbousty, PhD
Afra Atiq, PhD
Amal Al Sahlawi

Shahd Alshammari, PhD

Shahd Alshammari is a Kuwaiti-Palestinian author and academic. She is the author of Notes on the Flesh and Head above Water: Reflections on Illness. Alshammari teaches literature at the Gulf University for Science and Technology, where she is an assistant professor of English, and has written a number of stories and creative non-fiction works. Her research focuses on illness narratives and disability studies.

Jonas Elbousty, PhD

Jonas Elbousty holds an MPhil and PhD in English Studies from Columbia University. He has taught at Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Al Akhawayn, Columbia University and Yale University. He is a writer, literary translator and academic. He is the co-author of three books, and his work has appeared (and is forthcoming) in Michigan Quarterly Review, ArabLit, ArabLit Quarterly, Asheville Poetry Review, Banipal,Prospectus, Sekka, Journal of North African Studies, International Journal of Middle East StudiesMiddle Eastern Literatures and Comparative Literature, among others. His translation of Mohamed Choukri’s two short story collections, Flower Crazy and The Tent, is forthcoming from Yale University Press. Elbousty has received many awards, including the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, the A. Whitney Griswold Faculty Research Fund and the 2020 Poorvu Family Award for excellence in teaching at Yale University.

Afra Atiq, PhD

Afra Atiq is an Emirati poet and scholar. She holds a PhD in Media and Creative Industries and a Masters in Diplomacy. Her research has been published in international peer-reviewed journals. Her research focuses on education, social media effects and the Arabic Literary Sphere. With a passion for languages, she writes and performs in a blend of English, Arabic and French. She has been featured on numerous international platforms including Kuwait, India, Germany, and the UK. Locally, Atiq has showcased her work, most notably, at Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, Dubai Opera and The Louvre Abu Dhabi. Community and education are at the core of everything Afra does, and she dedicates much of her time to school visits. She’s a founding member of Untitled Chapters, a community of Emirati women writers. 

Amal Al Sahlawi

Amal Al Sahlawi is an Emirati poet from Sharjah who studied Arabic literature at the University of Sharjah. She is the author of I Had to Postpone You, a collection of Arabic poetry. Al Sahlawi has participated in and contributed poetry to a number of cultural events, such as at New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE University, Sharjah’s House of Poetry and the Emirates Writers Union. The themes she explores through her poetry include womanhood, philosophy, existentialism and the anxieties of modern life.

How to submit

Submissions will be received through email: [email protected]. Please use the title “Submission for Annual Literary Competition.”

For translated works, please cc the translator in the e-mail.


The competition will take place over the course of two months. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM BST, December 31, 2021. Please take a note of the deadline as any submissions made after the deadline will not be accepted.

The winners and runners up will be personally notified through email, announced on our social media platforms and their works will be published in a special issue of Sekka Magazine. If the participants do not hear back from Sekka within four months after the submission deadline, they should assume that, unfortunately, their work did not make it through to the final stages of the competition. Participants are welcome to take part in next year’s annual competition.

Awards and recognitions

Winners will be awarded USD 500 each, and will have their work published and featured in a special issue of Sekka Magazine. Runners up will be awarded USD 250. In the event the work is translated, the award will be equally split between the writer and the translator . Winners will also receive online certificates to honor their creative works and establish their notable participation.

It must be noted that there can only be one winner for each of the categories in the competition; participants cannot win in two or more categories. Once decided, the winning submissions will be subject to edits before being released and published in Sekka.

We look forward to receiving your submissions. Good luck!