7-year old Writer of the Year to speak at international festival

Award-winning 7-year-old Cambridge writer invited to speak at international festival on 24th April 2018


A 7-year-old boy from Cambridge has been selected to take part in the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in the United Arab Emirates to talk about his award-winning writing in front of hundreds of local children


Umar Ibrahim, overall winner of the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2017, will share his passion for writing and his achievements in literature at the Creative Kid’s Café on 24th April 2018. The session will encourage children to invest their time in creative activities and is part of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, a flagship event in the United Arab Emirates which attracted 306,000 visitors in 2017.


Umar, who is home-schooled, was nominated to speak at the festival by the Young Muslim Writers Awards – a writing competition organised by UK charity Muslim Hands. In December 2017 Umar won three awards in the competition – one for his short story, The Three Kings, and one for his poem, Oggletrog – A Nonsense Poem. From all the winners, Umar was then selected for the competition’s highest honour, the Writer of the Year. The ceremony, held in association with the Yusuf Islam Foundation, celebrated the creative writing of children in the UK aged between 5 and 16.


Now in its 10th year, the 11-day Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival will be held under the theme ‘Your Future… Just a Book Away’. The festival includes a line-up of 2,600 cultural and literary events and activities, and Umar is one of 286 literary guests invited from 121 countries.


Upon accepting his invitation to the festival, Umar said:


‘I felt excited to receive an invitation to the Festival. I’ve never been to a Festival before, so I am looking forward to this new experience! I am going to speak about what inspires me to be creative’.



On nominating Umar to take part in the festival, Zainub Chohan, Muslim Hands’ Project Manager for the Young Muslim Writers Awards said:


‘At such a young age Umar has demonstrated exceptional writing ability. When Umar performed his poem Oggletrog at the award ceremony in December, he did so to an audience who were hooked on his every word. The poem was met with laughter and cheers and he received a standing ovation when he was announced as the Writer of the Year. It was an obvious choice for us to select Umar as our nominee to the festival, and we are delighted he will be sharing his writing with such a large audience. We hope this will encourage Umar on his writing journey as well as inspire the audience creatively’.





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Notes to editors:

  • The Young Muslim Writers Awards arranges creative writing workshops and an annual writing competition. It is a project run by the UK charity Muslim Hands. https://www.ymwa.org.uk, Twitter and Facebook



  • The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Muhammad Al Qasimi. It aims to learning and self-education from a young age. http://www.scrf.ae/en/Content/2/0


  • Yusuf Islam Foundation is an umbrella body working in education, poverty alleviation and community development. www.yif.org.uk