This article examines the understudied political dynamics of the televised nabaī poetry competition Shāir al-Milyūn (“Million's Poet”) to offer a new understanding of the program. Media coverage has focused on the participation of a single female participant, while scholars have assessed Shāir al-Milyūn as primarily an experiment in the wedding of local tradition to modern technology, overlooking the central and complex negotiations of ruler-ruled relationships taking place on the show's stage. Shāir al-Milyūn's political aspect becomes particularly apparent in the regular performances of waaniyyah verse, i.e. poetry for the waan or homeland. Reading a waaniyyah poem performed during the fifth season of Shāir al-Milyūn by Emirati poet Amad bin Hayyāy al-Manūrī, I argue that Shāir al-Milyūn, rather than merely celebrating local poetic tradition, operates as a political technology that provides both poetry contestants and the show's princely patron with opportunities to articulate and enact expectations of proper citizenship.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019.
- nabaṭī poetry; waṭaniyyah; United Arab Emirates; Shāʿir al-Milyūn; allegiance; competition; Aḥmad bin Hayyāy al-Manṣūrī; heritage discourse; nation-building; treason; Iṣlāḥ
- Amad bin Hayyāy al-Manūrī
- Heritage discourse
- Nabaī poetry
- United Arab Emirates
- Shāir al-Milyūn