Dubai-based foundation announces contest to increase Arab authors’ online presence

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The monthlong competition is starting on June 1 and calls on the public to create articles about Arabic authors in Arabic. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Emirates Literature Foundation’s ‘Kateb Maktoub’ initiative, together with Google, is launching a competition to increase the number of Arab author pages on Wikipedia.

The monthlong competition is starting on June 1 and calls on the public to create articles about Arabic authors in Arabic. Ahead of the competition launch, the foundation is offering a free webinar giving attendees the Wikipedia skills they need to create author pages on May 30, so even those who have no previous experience can take part.

Cash prizes

The aim is to create the largest number of articles about Arab authors, following the Wikipedia guidelines. The first prize winner is awarded $500 (around Dh1,830). Runners-up receive $400 (about Dh1,470) for second place and $300 (around Dh1,100) for third place. There is a second round of the competition that starts August 1, offering another chance to compete for the prizes, and the person with the most articles across both cycles will win the ‘Grand Slam Prize’ of an all-expenses paid trip to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai 2022. Runners up will receive subscriptions to Abjjad, giving access to more than 30,000 Arabic books.

‘Fierce competition’

Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director, said: “The Kateb Maktub initiative is an important step in the right direction for bringing Arab literature to a wider audience and shining a light on Arab authors. We are extremely proud of the results so far which couldn’t have been achieved without our talented and dedicated volunteers. The Grand Slam prize is a unique chance for literature lovers to meet some of the greatest authors at our Festival, and I am sure we will see fierce competition.”

What is Kateb Maktub?

The Kateb Maktub initiative was launched in December 2020 and has rapidly gained momentum. Between September 2019 and September 2020, the number of Arab author pages on Wikipedia had grown organically by 100. In the first four months after the launch of the initiative, the number of pages has increased by 4,800, or 320 per cent. The foundation has engaged with more than 10 educational institutions and corporates and offered 10 workshops and webinars to train volunteers.

Experts and novices

There are two categories in each cycle of the competition: one for Wikipedia experts, and one for novices. To qualify, each article needs to be around 300-500 words and structured according to Wikipedia guidelines, including author introduction, notable works, awards, biographical information, and references and reliable quality sources. The foundation has a list of 6,000 author names contributors can develop pages for, and they have 48 hours to upload the article to Wikipedia from the time they select the author to ensure there are no duplicates.

The competition will be judged by a committee of experts, certified editors and administrators from the Arab wiki community. There are resources on the Kateb Maktub website, including training sessions and tips. The free webinar will share insights into general and specific guidelines of writing Wikipedia biographies, criteria for the ideal Wikipedia article, and the steps to publishing an article.