“Habib Al Sayegh: A Journey of Modernization and Innovation” Virtual Symposium Concludes at Al Owais Cultural Foundation

“Habib Al Sayegh: A Journey of Modernization and Innovation” Virtual Symposium Concludes at Al Owais Cultural Foundation

The Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation has concluded its virtual symposium on late poet Habib Al Sayegh, which was held under the title of “Habib Al Sayegh: A Journey of Modernization and Innovation”. The event was held on Wednesday and Thursday, September 16 &17, 2020, via Zoom online platform and the sessions were broadcasted through the Foundation’s page on Facebook.

The symposium was attended by HE Sulaiman Mousa Al Jassim, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation and HE Abdul Hamid Ahmed, Secretary General of the Foundation as well as a broad audience that attended the virtual sessions of the symposium online.

The symposium saw the participation of a constellation of poets, critics, writers and intellectuals who presented research papers, testimonials and gave a reading of excerpts from the poetry of late poet Habib Al Sayegh in commemoration of the first anniversary of his departure (August 20th, 2020). Moreover, the event included a film screening of a 5 minute-long documentary produced by the foundation titled, “A Zest for Poetry and Life”, which shed light on the late poet’s career in the fields of poetry and media.

The symposium was inaugurated by HE Sulaiman Mousa Al Jassim, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation, who will delivered the opening speech, in which he said:

“Poet and journalist Habib Al Sayegh has transcended both local and regional horizons with his poetic experience to reach readers around the Arab world. He deservedly became one of the icons of Arabic poetry and modern poetry in the Gulf region. On the other hand, he succeeded in becoming Secretary General of the Arab Writers Union after serving as Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union for many years.

Nonetheless, these positions and responsibilities never deterred Al Sayegh from developing his poetry. His poetic journey culminated in winning Al Owais Cultural Award in the “Poetry” category in the 14th session (2014-2015), making him the first UAE national to win this prestigious award, which was granted to himin recognition of his efforts in transforming the form, rhythm and content of the Arabic poem in its three formats amudi (classical column form), taf’ila (metric/free verse poetry) and Nathr (prose poem). His poetry reflect the worries and concerns of the Arab individual, which he succeeds in carrying forth from the local to the universal.”

Next, a screening of a documentary on late poet Habib Al Sayegh titled, “A Zest for Poetry and Life, took place. The documentary shed light on Al Sayegh’s professional career and poetic experience and highlights key events in his life’s journey and touched upon his most prominent publications. Following this, the sessions of the symposium kicked off with Dr. Mariam Al Hashemi, who presented a research paper titled “The Creation of the Poetic Self for Habib Al Sayegh”; followed by Sameh Ka’wash, who read a research paper titled, “Elegizing Places and Enriching Visions: The Dialectic of Being and Setting in the Writings of Habib Al Sayegh” and Dr. Mohamed Abdul Qader, who read a paper entitled “Consuming the Future, Habib Al Sayegh’s Double Alienation”. Moreover, at the end of the first day of the symposium Mr. Saeed Al Saqlawi gave a personal testimonial in memory of the late poet. Sessions of day one of the symposium were moderated by Mr. Ibrahim Al Hashemi.

Meanwhile, the second day of the symposium (Thursday, September 17, 2020) began with a session featuring Dr. Samar Rohy Al Faisal, who presented a paper entitled “Prose by Al Sayegh: A Reading of Habib Al Sayegh’s Articles”, which was followed by sessions by Dr. Khalifa Yassin Bin Arabi, who read a paper titled, “The Duality of Self and Place in the Poetry of Habib Al Sayegh: A Reading of Al Sayegh’s ‘Poems on Bahrain’” and Mr. Ahmed Al Shahawy, who read a paper titled, “Habib Al Sayegh: A Poet’s Biography as Seen in His Poetic Texts”. Next, a testimonial by Mr. Youssef Abou Louz followed. The symposium concluded with a reading of excerpts from Al Sayegh’s poetry by Mr. Mohammed Nour. Sessions of day two of the symposium were moderated by Dr. Barwin Habib.

A number of critical issues were raised during the symposium, including the how the work of poets in the field of journalism adds to their experience. Other questions raised during the event tackled the topic of traditional and modern poetry and how a poet can master both with equal aesthetic skill.

It is worth mentioning that the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation had released a new publication within its “Winners” book series, titled “Wardat Al Kuhoola” (The Flower of Elderliness), which is a poetry collection by late poet Habib Al Sayegh (1955-2019). The release of the new book fulfills one of the traditions the Al Owais Foundation has followed for many year; which is publishing one book by each of the winners of its cultural award.