Emirati teen wins letter-writing contest

Alia Al Ketbi pens a moving anti-war letter to the UN Secretary-General

17:58 October 9, 2017
NAT 171009 ALIA

Dubai: An Emirati student is the overall winner for the UAE in the 2017 International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People, organised by the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

Alia Al Ketbi, 14, won the contest for her moving anti-war letter to the UN secretary-general.

The announcement was made on Monday on the occasion of the World Post Day, at the Emirates Post Group (EPG) head office in Dubai.

Alia, a Grade 8 student of Al Thaqafa Primary and Secondary Education School for Girls, Sharjah, was honoured by Emirates Post. Other letter-writing winners also received certificates and trophies at the awards ceremony.

Monday’s event was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and with the support of UPU.

Two years ago, Alia had won fifth place globally in the contest. She was then praised on social media by Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

“I don’t usually write letters — everything has gone digital now — but I like writing stories. Writing is also important because it is a way to reach important people and inspire change for a better world,” Alia told Gulf News during Monday’s ceremony.

Best postal service

During the ceremony, it was also announced that Emirates Post has been rated as the best postal service in the Middle East. In the latest Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD), a global ranking system that is also categorised by region, the UAE postal service scored the highest in the Middle East. The UPU congratulated Emirates Post for the accomplishment in a statement shared at the event.

The power of ideas and the writing skills of children should not be ignored in today’s fast-paced world, said Abdullah Mohammad Al Ashram, acting CEO, Emirates Post.

“It’s really important to place children in a matter where they can express themselves. Young people today have powerful imagination and they like to think out of the box. They have strong opinions on how they see the world, where it’s going, and what’s going on in their lives, that we grown-ups probably miss because of our busy schedules.”

He added: “This competition for young students was to let them not forget the joy of writing, and how powerful letters can be. With the fast-paced life that we are living, we are missing out on the nice feeling when you receive a letter that is personalised from a loved one.”

Through skilled writing, students can address “very complex situations to highly-placed persons”, said Khalfan Al Marashda, Director, Student Skills Development, Ministry of Education.

Al Marashda added: “In terms of writing skills, it is critical to motivate students to participate in such competitions. These types of skills open the students’ minds and their capacity to express their feelings, share their knowledge, and pushes them to undertake research, especially on global issues, like how to address the UN Secretary-General.”