On Monday 4th March, the Middle Eastern Society hosted the annual Taste of Texts Arabic Declamation Competition. An audience of 45 people watched as a range of Arabists from beginners to more advanced speakers declaimed Arabic in a variety of forms ranging from poetry to passages of scripture. This year we were incredibly lucky to welcome a fantastic panel of judges that included teachers from Eton and other schools (Miss Shahnaz Ford of Oundle School, Mr Oliver Hopwood of Westminster School, Miss Nafeesa Abdul-Karim, Ms Anna Melnikova and Mr Tariq Mir) as well as experts in Middle East Studies (Dr Fitzroy Morrissey of All Souls College, Oxford; rare books specialist Nicholas McBurney; Cambridge anthropologist William Ryle-Hodges; and Oxford theology student Jacob Cheli). The quality of the declamation involved was shown by the length of time it took for the judges to select the winners, during which the audience were able to enjoy a variety of Middle-Eastern snacks, including baklava, hummus and caramel cookies. Ultimately, Hector Rankin (NPTL) emerged as the winner of the beginner’s category with his recitation of some famous lines by Mutanabbai. Cyrus Tehranchian (BJH) claimed first prize in the intermediate competition with a heartfelt performance of poetry by Nizar Qabbani Finally, Shaw Worth (Coll) – with an animated recital of lines by Abu Nuwas – and Lucas Jacobelli (Coll) – with a moving performance of verses by Anis Chouchene – were awarded joint first place in the advanced category. ‘Mabrouk’ to all involved.

Hugh Harley (NPTL)