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The winners of Floating Voices are…

The jury of the Floating Voices Contest has reached its verdict. The winners of the creative arts contest launched by Maydan during the “Embracing the Mediterranean means saving Europe” campaign have been selected.

NARRATIVES ABOUT OUR COMMON DESTINY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN was the theme, chosen with the objective of:

  • Promoting knowledge of the socio-political, cultural and economic complexities of Mediterranean countries,
  • Strengthening relationships and sharing dreams among young citizens on both shores of the Mediterranean.

We received twelve (12) submissions from nine countries in the region (Algeria, Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia), written in three languages (Arabic, French and English): 7 in the “Short Story” category and 5 in the “Poetry” category; no submissions were received in the “Video” category.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners:

Short Story Category

Southern Shore:

  1. Akila TCHIER (Algeria) – First place with From Tuscany to Cirta (original text in Arabic)

Synopsis: Cirta is the ancient Algerian name for Constantine. The narrative recounts the love story between an Algerian man named Ahmed and an Italian woman named Rosa. It presents strong references about the shared Mediterranean identity and universal love beyond faiths and borders. Ahmed talks to Rosa about how the Mediterranean is the Godfather of the citizens on both shores of this sea.

  1. Ilham ZENID (Morocco) – Second place with La Fiesta (original text in Arabic)

Synopsis: The story of a refugee couple from Syria in Barcelona. The husband plays the flute and the wife is a poet. The couple manages to save the “La Fiesta” café owner from bankruptcy thanks to their talents.

Northern Shore:

  1. Paula Rodríguez iESCRIBÀ (Spain) – First place with Beware of the seas which host no monsters, for neither do they hold dreams (original text in English)

Synopsis: By the sea on a hot afternoon while children play outside, two old men sitting indoors recall the battles that this sea has witnessed; and the sea itself remembers the gods and goddesses in its waters. A young woman listens to the stories of battles fought as she piles cups and plates, knowing there will also be parties and celebrations in these uncertain times.

  1. No second place from the northern shore.


Poetry Category

Southern Shore:

  1. Mohamed HASSAN YEHYA (Egypt) – First place with My Favourite Language (original text in Arabic)

Synopsis: The poem talks about the Mediterranean and the ongoing conflicts and words of revenge that cross its countries as seen from Alexandria of Egypt. The sea speaks to its inhabitants and invites them to invent a new language, a language of peace, embraces and dreams.

  1. Soukaina HABIBALLAH (Morocco) – Second place with The Fund of the World’s Lost (original text in Arabic)

Synopsis: The poem painfully and crudely describes the abandonment of the past and the despair of those who leave in search of a future beyond the sea. One feels the suffering and the sense of emptiness in finding oneself as if closed inside a box, in the certainty of having lost one’s own world, but with the hope of surmounting the gate that separates from the city.

Northern Shore:

  1. Ana Catarina MILHAZES (Portugal) – First place with Getting Ashore (original text in English)

Synopsis: A poem recounted by two young Africans, a woman and a man, waiting on the seashore and reflecting about what is left behind and the uncertainty while they cross. A very strong narrative, it gives a sense of the place and the inner feelings of both individuals.

  1. Irene BELLOMO (Italy) – Second place with The Sea in your Heart (original text in French)

Synopsis: A brief dialogue in verse on the border of Italy and our forgetfulness of the sea in our imagination, which ends with an invitation to make room in the heart for the sea that unites.

The complete results of the Contest with a biography of the authors and the motivation for their selection will be on-line soon at

The winners have been invited to participate in Progetto Mediterranea’s closing event. The Project involved a nautical, scientific and cultural expedition across the entire Mediterranean over the last five years. As a partner of the Floating Voices creative arts contest, Progetto Mediterranea will host the Awards Ceremony during the conclusion of the Project, which will be held in Genoa, Italy on 12-13, October, 2019.

The jury was made up of:

Juan del Gado, a Spanish multimedia artist who lives and works in London. His creations are made up of photographs, installations and images in motion and often address difficult issues to be addressed in society, like trauma, landscapes, disabilities, migration and gender issues. Del Gado’s work has been sponsored by many prestigious organisations such as: the British Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Arts Council of England, the Spanish Ministry of Culture and ArtSchools Palestine.

Ali Nasser, a Syrian human rights activist. A graduate of the Faculty of Law of Aleppo, he joined the Aleppo Bar Association in 2012 and worked with the Aleppo Court which was established once the 2011 Syrian Revolution took control of the city of Aleppo. He is a member of the Aleppo Free Bar Association and currently lives in Germany after having escaped the civil war in 2015.

Rasha Shaaban, an Egyptian project manager and coordinator of the Anna Lindh Foundation network in Sweden at the National Museum of World Cultures. She is leading intercultural dialogue projects that promote gender equality and facilitate integration of newcomers in Sweden using storytelling. Among her latest projects are the Award-nominated iHopp and Mind the Gap. Since 2016, Rasha has been a Board Member of European Alternatives.

Francesca R. Piro (Chairperson), an Italian pathologist and cultural promoter. She has worked in public health for over 20 years, sharing her time between her job and interests and commitments in the fields of culture, the environment and civil rights. She is co-founder of Progetto Mediterranea, a nautical, cultural and scientific expedition, with which she sails for long periods during the year, searching out Mediterranean thought and identity. She also founded La Linea d’Ombra, an independent cultural space for writers, artists and intellectuals and is a co-founder of the Maydan Association.

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