Three women have reached the second phase of Million's Poet for the first time in the history of the television contest and will be vying with each other to win the Dh5 million first prize.
Halima Abadi from Jordan qualified in last week's episode when she was awarded 46 out of a possible 50 points by the jury for a poem inspired by clashes involving Algerian and Egyptian football fans.
She will be joined in the next phase by fellow Jordanian Roba Al Douekat and Saudi Arabian Hisa Helal, who both qualified in previous episodes of the Nabati poetry competition.
Abadi's poem is an example of a new trend towards works that deal with contemporary social issues – previously the focus was more on subjects such as romance and tribal pride.
Violence erupted last November after Algeria beat Egypt to clinch a place in the World Cup finals. Abadi said: "I was very upset by the reaction of the fans of both teams after the game and the poem expresses my feelings and thoughts about the matter."
Abadi said she thought the female line-up would present a formidable challenge to their male rivals. "I believe at least one of us will battle till the last episode," she added.
Another female poet – Saudi Arabia's Mastora Al Ahmadi – will take part in episode six next week.
The latest episode of the competition, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and is in its fourth season, will be broadcast live on Abu Dhabi TV tonight. The poets will also include the UAE's Abdulla Al Jaberi.
The poetry contestants are judged using a mixture of jury votes, live audience votes and SMS voting.
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