#OmanPride: Top entries of first Times of Oman literary contest published

More sports Saturday 06/February/2016 21:49 PM
By: Times News Service
#OmanPride: Top entries of first Times of Oman literary contest published

Muscat: ‘Thoughts...& Expressions!’, a limited edition book publishing the winning entries of the inaugural Times of Oman Literary Contest, has been officially launched by Ahmed Essa Al Zedjali, CEO of Muscat Media Group.
The book, a collector’s item, was released by MMG in response to overwhelming requests from readers across the Sultanate, and should serve as a delight for readers.
The literary contest, which was the first of its kind in the region, was initiated by MMG, with a view to providing talented and aspiring writers in the Sultanate a platform to express themselves and also benchmark their writing skills, with among the best writers in the region.
The contest, which was also carried online, saw an enthusiastic response throughout the Sultanate, and had participation from nationals of more than 22 countries, including a very healthy participation from Oman.
The contest categories included General Essays, Short Stories and Poetry, with the best submissions being published in this book.
The second edition of the contest is scheduled to be announced shortly to encourage creative writing at the school level, as MMG plans to integrate an inter-school contest and trophy into this latest contest, which is meant to stir the creative ideas of the young ‘writers’ minds’ flowing.
“MMG’s work ethos has always revolved around the empowerment of our readers. We believe that real empowerment comes not just from the sharing of knowledge and information, but from providing a channel for expression, as well,” Al Zedjali said.
He also noted that, as the world moves forward into the digital era, where geographical barriers no longer exist for the communication of thoughts and ideas, ‘effective’ expression holds the key.
“Contests of this nature open the doors of young minds, enabling them to be creative, thoughtful and introspective,” Al Zedjali added.
He also thanked the sponsors of the contest, including Jindal Shadeed, Sohar Aluminium and Zubair Corporation, who came forward and shared MMG’s values and vision in the new competition.
“We look forward to the continued privilege of association with our business partners in our future editions of this initiative, as well,” he said.
Pradeep Govind, who heads the contest committee, remarked, “Unlike the regular writing contests normally held in the region, this competition was unique, in the sense that there were no restrictions on the topics.
The participants were given a free run for their imagination and over four months to write, refine and submit their works,” he continued.
“With technology knitting the world progressively closer, we have every right and reason to believe that the Times of Oman Literary Contest could truly proliferate into a global event in the coming years,” Govind said.
“All good stories need good listeners, and I would like to thank Times of Oman for taking this initiative to provide such a huge platform for literary talent. It was a great experience being part of this,” Parvathi Preethan, one of the winners in the Short Storiescategory, told Times of Oman.
Display of talent
“The literary contest was a good opportunity to share our work and be part of the writing fraternity in this country. It gave me an opportunity, also, to read other works and meet eminent judges. I hope the contest becomes an annual event organised by TOO group,” Sujatha Snegupta, one of the winners in the General Essays category, told Times of Oman.
According to Arun Ananthapai, a winner in the General Essay group, TOO’s literary competition helped bring out the writer in him.
“I had many plots for short stories and essays in my mind, but I lacked the platform to showcase my ability. TOO helped the budding writer in me. This opportunity I took very seriously. My objective was to participate and my goal was to win,” Ananthapai said.
“So when I did win second place, I was ecstatic. This award made me popular. Friends and strangers congratulated me and praised my work, and people who knew me well were surprised by my hidden talent,” he added.
He also said that the recognition coming from an eminent panel of judges was even more rewarding.
The judges for the inaugural edition included Donald Sargent, regional teacher trainer and advisor in the Ministry of Education; Sonia Ambrosio de Nelson, Assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communications at Sultan Qaboos University; Michele Ni Thoghdha, Chief Supervisor for English with the Ministry of Education; Patricia Groves, author and educator, and Jane Jaffer Bickmore, author of several books.
According to the judges,this was a difficult competition to judge.
“We witnessed a wonderful display of talent. It was very inspiring, promising and an overwhelming experience to judge the works,” a judge said.
Further, according to Khalid bin Mohammed Al Zubair, Managing Director of the Zubair Corporation and Head of the Social Advisory Committee, the company joined this competition to assist in introducing meaningful community- based initiatives throughout the Omani Society.
“Achieving high levels of literacy by forming the habit of regular reading is a lifetime skill for every member of the community. Communicating with society allows for the study of issues arising from the heart of the community by identifying its needs,”he said.
“Zubair Corporation endeavours to engage those youths who are aware of the needs of the community,” he added.
According to Mohammed Al Masoudi, CEO of Sohar Aluminium, his company has been part of this initiative to promote literary talents in the Sultanate.
“Empowerment cannot be attained by industrial development alone, but also by the intellectual growth of its people,” Al Masoudi said.
“Through literature, we not only express our respect of the world with its tangible and abstract notions, but also contribute to the promotion of our culture. Oman has always been a cradle of magnificent literature, and great poets and writers have emerged from this land,” he added.
“The contest gave ample opportunity to the youth to display their talents in the field of literature, and I welcome the initiatives taken up by Times of Oman to bring out the hidden talents of these youths,” N A Ansari, CEO of the Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel,noted.
As MMG is gearing up to announce the much awaited next edition of the Times of Oman Literary Contest, the call has begun for talented writers to activate their creativity and prepare their manuscripts for the next round of “Thoughts...& Expressions!”