Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) has renewed its partnership with Art Omi (New York) to sponsor one aspiring Arabic writer to participate in the HBKU Press and Art Omi: 2021 Writer’s Residency.

One Arabic writer will be selected to participate in the annual residency in Ghent, New York. The retreat will provide the chosen writer with the space and time away from daily pressures to write and create at the Art Omi residences amidst the backdrop of 300 acres of rolling farmland with spectacular views of the Catskills and Hudson River Valley. There will also be opportunities to connect with other literary talents from around the world as well as publishers from the United States, who wil participate as visiting experts.

According to HBKU Press Executive Director Bachar Chebaro, they are committed to serving the wider community by continuing to provide sponsorship opportunities despite the current global challenges.

This is the perfect platform for Arabic writers to highlight their work in a global context by engaging in a programme that aims to support and promote literary talents from the region.

During the retreat, residents are encouraged to select one written piece to focus on for the duration of the residency. Daytime is reserved for writing and quiet activities, while evenings are more communal. Noted editors, agents and book scouts are invited to share dinner and conversation on both creative and practical subjects, offering insight into the workings of the publishing industry, and introductions to some of its key professionals.

Art Omi is honoured to renew its collaboration with HBKU Press, particularly in these uncertain times of global pandemic, says DW Gibson, Omi: Writers Director of Art. He said that they believe it is increasingly important to find more ways to support artistic expression across borders.

Our programming is strengthened by including a literary voice from the Arab world and we hope this will be a partnership that will last for years.

This coming year’s edition has been modified to take into consideration all travel and safety precautions as set out by the State of New York.

Gibson explained that their organisation will remain fluid to the requirements of local, state and federal government with regards to safety protocols, to ensure the safety of residents.

He said that safety requirements were designed in collaboration with county health officials and that all indoor common areas are refitted to adapt to these safety measures.

For instance, the dining hall where residents share communal meals now has individualised tables, spaced six feet apart, so that people can dine in the same space and still maintain distance. There is also the added option of outdoor seating so that meals can be shared outside when weather allows.

Residents are also encouraged to do as much socialising and gathering outside when the weather permits, which is where the 300-acre campus comes into play, as there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the outdoors together. Masks are required whenever people need to be in close proximity to each other indoors.

We are also pursuing virtual visits from publishing professionals when it is not possible for them to physically visit.

He added that a staff member with 20+ years of publishing experience remains ‘on call’ in the library, twice a week, so residents can arrange meetings with her to talk about their career and whatever help they might be looking for when it comes to making connections to US readers and publishers.

We anticipate – hope – that some of the restrictions will be lifted in the spring of 2021 and even more so for the fall of 2021 to accommodate residents who will be joining us from overseas.

The programme has operated with these measures throughout the pandemic and with success.

This collaboration reflects the spirit of cultural exchange that is essential to HBKU Press and Art Omi. The residency in 2021 is also one of the key ways that HBKU Press has aligned with the 2021 Year of Culture: Qatar – USA.

Application to the residency programme is open to all writers, though preference is given to mid-career writers. Applicants must have an intermediate grasp of the English language as the residency and its workshops are all in English. A full application package includes the filled up application form, statement of purpose (1000 words), CV to be submitted in English, and a writing sample (5000 words) that can be in Arabic. Only completed applications will be considered.

Deadline for application is 15 December 2020. HBKU Press will announce the shortlisted applicants on 25 December. The finalist who will attend the retreat will be announced on 15 January 2021.

For more details on the requirements, terms and conditions, and to apply for the residency, visit hbkupress.com