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Alanah Bunch is sixteen years old, British and a Year 12 student at Dubai English Speaking College. Ms Bunch is a talented and creative writer who will be studying English Literature A-level to pursue her passion further. She writes: "I am grateful to have been a participant in this project. Every student has their own unique writing style and the novel challenge has allowed many young writers to express their talent. With this chapter, I intended to tie up some loose ends and drive the plot forward. I think it's very important that we see the story from several different perspectives to fully grasp the situation, so I have tried to indulge that with Archie's perspective. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity."
Alya Al Shamsi is a student at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai and has been passionate about creative writing as long as she's been a writer. Miss Al Shamsi writes: "Though I was only recently introduced to this challenge, it has been so much fun getting to know Neina and watching her grow at the hands of many different talented students across Dubai. It has been an amazing opportunity to be able to play a part in Neina’s journey and one I will never forget. I cannot wait to see how the story ends."
Amal Jabir is 14 years old, Indian and a Year 9 student at Amity Private School in Sharjah. She said: "“This was a huge opportunity for me and was certainly something very different in terms of plot and creativity. Over all, I am very grateful to be given this opportunity to discover a greater part of the character of Neina, as well as explore my artistry. I wish the next writer all the best and remember; just let your imagination flow! Thank You.”
Amr Baroudy is fifteen years old, Lebanese-American and a Grade 10 student at Dunecrest American School in Dubai. He writes: "When writing this chapter, I wanted to steer the story in the direction of bringing Neina back to the real world. I wanted to show Neina the world that she had been looking for, and that someone she had been looking for would be found. This challenge was a great opportunity to push me to be more confident in the way I write and I can’t wait to see how the next chapter develops Neina’s story even more!"
Amy Downes is fifteen years old and a British student studying in Year 11 at GEMS FirstPoint School, Dubai. Miss Downes writes “I have thoroughly enjoyed following the story, seeing the characters develop - and I find the backstories of the characters very interesting. I wanted to link this chapter to Isla’s past, by linking the information we have learned about her from previous chapters with the story as it has now developed. It has been a pleasure to have been a part of this unique opportunity and I’m very curious to see how the characters will evolve as the story progresses.”
Annabelle O’Connor is fifteen years old, British and a student in Year 11 at GEMS Jumeirah College in Al Safa, Dubai. She writes: "I’ve really enjoyed following how each author has developed the story and the characters. When I read the story I noticed a few previous authors had set up really interesting opportunities to explore characters like Janus, so I decided to capitalise on their talent and further establish the storyline."
Anne Kurian teaches in the Curious Cubs, which is the Foundation Stage at The English College, Dubai. Originally from Chennai, India, Anne has been teaching for 21 years and has worked in five British schools in India and the UAE. She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Stella Maris College and went on to complete a Bachelors in Education. Anne’s love for teaching and working with children led her to pursue a career in education.
Anne-Marie Lind is a parent of two children who are currently studying for an International Baccalaureate education at GEMS World Academy in Dubai. Passionate about the IB, Mrs Lind speaks with SchoolsCompared about why she first chose the IB for Sofie and Frederik, and whether it has lived up to all her hopes.
Anya Prokop is fifteen years old, American and a student in Year 10 at Safa Community School in Dubai. Miss Prokop writes: "It has been a real privilege and an honour to be able to take part in an amazing opportunity like this. I have enjoyed following Neina’s journey through the good times - and the bad times. Writing the penultimate chapter of a novel has been a daunting task, and I hope that I have been able to set up a satisfying ending for our characters. I want to thank my English teacher for giving me this opportunity, and also one of my other teachers and my friends for convincing me to be bold and go with my gut instinct. I really hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it. I wish the next, and last, author the best of luck in writing the final chapter of this groundbreaking novel."
Arshia Shetty is twelve years old, Indian and a Year 8 student at Repton School Dubai. Miss Shetty writes: "I am honoured to be part of such an amazing experience. During this whole novel, I have been so enthralled and fascinated watching Neina’s journey unfold. Thank you so much to my English teacher, Mr. Parkes, for this absolutely awesome opportunity. As the novel has progressed I felt that Lola’s character could be more developed, and in this Chapter I have moved her character forward. I also felt, reading the novel, that Queen Orla’s sword could be something of real significance to our heroes and have added this twist to our story. Good luck to the next writer! Let your imagination and creativity shine!
Aya Nayal is thirteen years old and a student at Deira International School. She writes: "In this chapter, I wanted to throw in something completely unexpected to make this novel even more thrilling and to unleash an ocean of possibilities for the next writer. I hope that the next authors continue to expand on the twist I have included whilst keeping true to their own ideas. To the next writers, good luck!"
Bliss D’Souza is a 17 years old, Indian and a student studying at Nibras International High School in Dubai. She writes “It has been a truly fascinating experience reading about Neina and the other characters in the novel. I personally love to unravel the mysteries in the various books I read, so I decided to add a little bit of suspense to the story. I cannot wait to see how the mystery will be unfolded. I wish all the very best to the next author and hope everyone enjoys writing this novel as much as I did’.
Chaeli-Jade Pienaar is fourteen years old, Australian and a student at Hartland International School in Dubai. Emma Sanderson, Head of English at Hartland International School, said: "Get ready for the next journey into the unknown that is The Prophesy Tower. Wow! I hope that you enjoy Chaeli-Jade’s chapter for the Write a Novel Challenge as much as I did!"
Christia Baghdadian is fifteen years old, Armenian and a Year 10 student at The English College in Dubai. Ms Baghdadian writes: "This has been a phenomenal experience. I really want to thank my English teachers for nominating me to participate in this challenge. I feel like this experience has definitely expanded my horizons and has inspired me to keep on writing. For that, thank you so much to everyone who participated and for keeping the story captivating and challenging me to improve my writing. For my chapter, I really wanted to use the turquoise gem because it offered a powerful means to open a small window of hope for defeating the Queen that did not involve a tragic death. Whether this works, or not, will now be up to the authors that follow me. To all of them I wish good luck - and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did."
Cydnee Howard is 17 years old, British and a Year 13 A' Level student at Dubai English Speaking College. She is described as "highly creative, thriving on any opportunity to let her imagination run wild." Ms Howard writes: "From the very beginning I knew I wanted to do something radical and different. As the novel has progressed I have been increasingly inspired, not by Neina, but by Isla’s resilience and what that means for the development of her character. I look forward to seeing how we, as a collective group of writers, develop Isla’s personality - and how the prophecy will play into the story. It was such an amazing opportunity, and I am so grateful to have participated..."
Dalia Mustafa is fifteen years old, Sudanese American and a Grade 10 student at the Universal American School. Ms. Mustafa writes: "I am incredibly glad I was chosen for one of the final chapters, and even more so that my wonderful English teachers pushed me to participate in this challenge. Seeing Neina and Isla grow - and following the endless twists and turns of the plot, has been hard and required lots of patience, but worth it! I wanted to bring everyone back together to reconvene and create a starting point for the resolution. I also wanted to remind readers of Neina's main goal and what happened the first time she was sent to the Mors world. That's why I decided to return to some of the earlier challenges (those exploring the sins) and the plot point of Freya disappearing. They were interesting parts of the original plot and, I hope, tying them back in will provide the next authors something solid to build off - and so work towards the conclusion of Neina's story!"
Danae Giannaro is an aspiring architect and designer who swapped her A' Level studies in Economics to follow her creative interest in Art. This, combined with her study of Mathematics and English Literature, grounded her decision to explore university courses in Architecture and related fields across Europe. She writes from the Sixth Form of Dubai College, one of the Tier 1, 'Ivy League' not-for-profit schools in the United Arab Emirates.
David is the co-founder and GM of Which Media, the owner of and
Live news and in-depth reviews reporting from the editorial and news desk teams reporting from London and the UAE. The SchoolsCompared Editorial Team combines more than a century of global experience in journalism. To contact us with news in confidence please email [email protected].
Born in Pakistan, Eman Murshed is 16 years old and attends GEMS Jumeirah College in Year 11. She writes of her opening to the novel: “As daunting as it seems — writing the opening chapter of an entire novel — I can easily say that I am beyond excited. What is most thrilling about this challenge is being able to introduce everyone to a character I’ve already grown so fond of, and witnessing how the next writer perceives her! The idea of this first chapter stemmed from a conversation with my friend as we discussed what we feared most about the future as it seems pandemics really bring out the most existential questions in teenagers. My hope is that this rather depressing start will juxtapose nicely with the later chapters as we watch the character grow past her initial turmoil, and I really hope everyone enjoys what has and will be written!”
Francesca Chapman is a student in Year 9 at Brighton College Al Ain. She writes: “I am so incredibly proud to have taken part in such an amazing challenge. Throughout the novel, Neina’s character has really developed and I absolutely loved the different perspective in the last chapter. For this chapter, I aimed for Neina, again, to be seen in a different way. She is battling with her own mind and has many struggles which makes us question who she can really rely on - and who is truly real. The many characters that are seen throughout the previous chapters turn out, in my chapter, to be many facets of her own mind. I am very excited to see where the story leads in the coming chapters.”
Hasan Javaid is fifteen years old, Pakistani and student in Year 10 at The English College in Dubai. He writes: "Reading the previous 36 chapters has shown me how varied everyone’s style of writing is, and how each author has their own creative flair with which they put their individual stamp on their own chapters. It has been a pleasure slowly watching Neina’s fate unravel before our eyes and participating in this event. It’ll be exciting to see how the story turns out in the next 45 or so chapters - and I wish everyone the best of luck!"
Hasan Raza is the Head Boy of Deira International School in Dubai Festival City. In 2021 Mr Raza aims to begin his university studies in Canada as part of his life plan to secure a career in business.
Jack Gamble is an aspiring Philosopher on his journey to study at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Mr Gamble studied at the Royal Grammar School Guildford between 2014 and 2021, taking A' Levels in English, Religious Studies and Music. He writes: "During my time at the RGS, I’ve been lucky to be able to further my ability in my interests through various orchestras and choirs for music - a personal highlight of mine being the chance to perform Chopin’s ‘L’Orage’ [The Storm] in prize-giving. I’ve also performed in productions such ‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Merchant of Venice’ and ‘RENT’, the first of which I played the eponymous hero, Macbeth himself." Mr Gamble holds Grade 8 ABRM qualification in the Horn, a Grade 7 ABRM qualification in Piano, and a LAMDA Level 4 qualification in Dramatic Performance. He is a former Surrey Young Referee of the Season and is proud to have developed his work experience at Waitrose and Partners where he worked for six months as a Supermarket Assistant representing one of the UK's most respected retail brands with customers.
Jacob Sims is 17 years old, British and a Year 12 student studying studying A-Levels in English Language, History and Government & Politics at Dubai English Speaking College. Recognised widely for his passion for language and creative flair, Jacob writes: "This story has taken so many twists and turns already and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it thus far. I thought I would expand upon one of the ideas from an earlier chapter with the seven sins, while tackling the insecurities and character flaws that Neina has. Good luck to those yet to write. Enjoy taking this character on the plenty of adventures to come...."
Jana Samy is 16 years old, Egyptian and a Year 11 student at the Sheffield Private School in Dubai. She writes: "I have enjoyed reading the story and was extremely excited to write my chapter. I can’t wait to read the next chapter find out how the story continues. Thank you for this opportunity and I wish the best of luck to the next author!"
Special Projects Reporter on, Jane Talbot is a renowned features journalist and researcher recognised for her in-depth and inciteful documentation of key issues facing parents in education worldwide. She brings to more than two decade’s experience in journalism and an authentic, deeply compassionate commitment to writing that places the welfare of children and families centre stage. “I write to support families facing the hardest decisions in education – whether that is the first day at school or navigating challenges like dyslexia. I see journalism as a vocation that promises, little by little, to change the world for the better. SchoolsCompared gives me the chance to play my part, for parents and children, in that bigger picture.”
Jessica Cullen studied at Dubai English Speaking College between 2014 and 2021. Passionate about English Literature, in 2021, Miss Cullen was offered a place to study English Literature at the University of Oxford, Miss Cullen has written widely, including a standout contribution to a novel authored by students drawn from schools across the UAE. On this, Miss Cullen wrote: “I am very pleased that I have been able to be a part of this project, and I think the story has certainly shown the imagination of so many talented writers in the UAE. Within my chapter, my main goal was to explore some of the characters and events that have happened in past chapters in more detail, whilst also building Isla’s character arc further. As well as this, although we have been introduced to many of the important people in Neina’s life, I wanted to explore why they are so important to her, and explore their relationship with The Prophecy Tower. Finally, I must say thank you - I am grateful to be part of something so inspiring.” Miss Cullen will be genuinely missed when she leaves Dubai English Speaking College on her graduation in 2021.
Joli Lindberg is 13 years old, Swedish and a student in Year 8 at Kent College Dubai. She said: "I really enjoyed how the story progressed over the past few weeks with all the plot twists and the continuing feeling of mystery. I have tried to build up further suspense and leave a lot of opportunities for the next author to elaborate on the action in the story. I wish luck to the next author and I am really looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here."
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]
Jude Hasanin is 13 years old, a joint British-Palestinian national and a student in Year 9 at Amity International School Abu Dhabi. He writes: "I am extremely proud and honoured to be representing Amity International School in this writing competition. I wanted there to be a part where Neina comes face to face with her fear and for her to realise her worth! I, like many authors, have fallen in love with Neina and am really intrigued on seeing what future authors can bring next to this exquisite tale! Next author in line: good luck!"
Katie Meldrum is 13 years old, American and a student in Year 9 at Safa Community School in Dubai. She writes"I have really enjoyed reading the exciting chapters from different students. I love the way the story is heading and how new characters are being introduced and developed. In this chapter I decided to explore Neina's struggle to find out if everything was 'real' or not. Thank you so much for this opportunity, it has been an extremely enjoyable experience. Good luck to the next writers. I hope you all have a great summer ..."
Kinda Abouchakra is fourteen years old, Lebanese Canadian and a Year 10 student at Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi. She writes: "I am so thankful to be able to contribute to this amazingly complex story. I discovered the liberating feeling of writing two years ago, and since then it has become an outlet for my artistic desire for self-expression. My goal in this chapter is to humanize the story a bit more, especially since I am constantly trying to suppress my overwhelming emotions during this pandemic! I would also like to thank my Mom who, with her wonderful literary abilities, inspired me greatly."
Kristian Maglantay is fifteen years old and a student in Year 10 at Hartland International School in Dubai. He writes: "Neina’s death was a really inspiring choice and it lead to me wanting to humanise Isla. I wanted to make her seem more likable and to, hopefully, give some explanation for her past and future actions. I look forward to seeing how Isla’s motives and personality expand and grow!"
Kriti Rai is fourteen years old and a student in Grade 9 at Amity School, Sharjah. She writes: I am grateful that I have had this opportunity to write one of the chapters of this interesting novel. It has given me a "golden ticket" to show off my talent and creativity in describing the character of Neina. This was totally a different experience for me - but, at the same time, an exciting one too. I wish the next writer, all the best and remember ..... let your creativity shine through!"
Lesath Samarakone is fourteen years old, Sri Lankan and a student in Grade 10 at the Sheffield Private School in Dubai. He writes: "I was intrigued by the concept of Isla’s mother and what she meant for Isla’s character. I thought it was best that I somehow reintroduce Isla’s mother to thicken the plot and add fury to Isla’s vision. I decided to base it on what many families would have had to go through (and are still going through) in the COVID-19 Pandemic across the world: the cruel choice between ignoring social distancing and having the comfort of family around us or isolating from others and being lonely to protect others - including the ones we love the most. I also attempted to fix the canon and lore inconsistencies that I believe have arisen in this novel and tie up some remaining loose ends. This novel has been a great experience - seeing all of the different perspectives of these characters has been particularly thrilling. Finally, and most importantly, good luck to the next author!
Ma. Yvana Fiona Kassandra Sager Dugenio is fourteen years old, Pilipino and a student in Year 9 at Star International School Al Twar. Ms Dugenio said:"I am glad to participate in this challenge. Here is my masterpiece. I hope you enjoy it!"
Mahra Al Mesaybeh is sixteen years old, Emirati and a student at The British International School Abu Dhabi. Ms Al Mesaybeh writes: "It has been a great pleasure and honour to take part in this challenge. It has also been thrilling following Neina's story for the past few months. In this chapter of the novel I wanted to slow the pace a little and I have shifted the spotlight onto Charlotte as her arc and development as a character was always very interesting to me as a reader. This has been a wonderful experience - and I wish the best of luck to the next writers. I'm excited to see where the story goes next!"
Maia Christensen is 14 years old, Danish and a Year 9 student at the Jebel Ali School in Dubai. She writes: "In this chapter, I chose to explore Neina’s emotions and thoughts on discrimination. I also chose to incorporate her future fiance Archie who was briefly mentioned in chapter 19. I am excited to see how future authors choose to develop Neina’s story. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!"
Manahil Siddiki is fifteen years old, Saudi Arabian and a student in Year 9 at the Jebel Ali School in Dubai. He writes: "“Thank you for this opportunity! I decided to add a little twist to this chapter, giving the readers another reason to dislike the Queen and humanise Isla a little more. This was an extremely enjoyable experience, good luck to the next writer!”
Manal Fatima Anjum is fifteen years old, British and a student in Year 10 at Star International School Al Twar in Dubai. She writes:"I’ve been fascinated with the story from the start and wanted my chapter to be able to add new ideas while also trying to incorporate the themes of the previous author. I left some things vaguer than others to see how the next author will interpret them and what they’ll do from here .... how their ideas may be different from what my original ideas will be. I’m glad to have had an opportunity to add my own creative input into the story and I can’t wait to see where the next author takes it."
After years of pursuing a successful career in communication and marketing, Ms. Mariona Coderch Lopéz decided to find a more meaningful life path by dedicating herself to becoming an educator. Ms. Coderch Lopéz holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education Specialized in Humanities from Universidad de Navarra and is currently the IB Career-related Programme Coordinator at GEMS International School Al Khail in Dubai. Ms. Coderch Lopéza believes that school should "open doors for students and provide tools for them to be successful in whatever they set their minds and hearts to." Ms. Coderch Lopéz is passionate about the IB and is an experienced DP Psychology Assistant Examiner as well as DP Psychology teacher and CP Personal and Professional Skills teacher. Prior to introducing the Career-related Programme at GIS, she worked closely with the DP Coordinator as DP Grade Leader. Previously, she also taught DP Economics, Theory of Knowledge, MYP Individuals & Societies as well as US-curriculum Social Studies. As a big advocate for service learning and the importance of giving back to others, Ms. Coderch Lopéz also served as Community Service Coordinator at an international school in Barcelona.
Mark Ellis is the Head of Inclusion at GEMS First Point School. He has been a teacher for 25 years having graduated from St. Martin’s College in Lancaster, United Kingdom. His entire teaching career has been dedicated to supporting those students with additional needs including specific learning disabilities and those who are exceptionally able. Mark is a qualified SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) and is also qualified to carry out a range of formal assessments in order to ensure students can access additional arrangements in public examinations. Mark has held a variety of positions in a wide range of schools. He has been whole school coordinator for humanities, maths and English and was Deputy Head Teacher at one of the most challenging Special School in the UK. He spent two years as Head of SEND at an International school in Qatar which had a population of over 6,000 students following three different curriculums! In 2013 Mark was seconded into a local authority position in order to oversee the implementation of the new Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities following the introduction of the Children and Families Act (2014). Since coming to Dubai in 2015, Mark has been heavily involved in developing SEND provision here at First Point School but has also worked extensively across the GEMS network of schools. He has been part of numerous GEMS reviews teams enabling him to further disseminate outstanding practice and to develop effective and consistently effective processes for identification and provision.
Markus Baumgartner is an Austrian citizen born and raised in Dubai. As of 2022, Mr Baumgartner is studying in the UK having spent his school years in the UAE, attending primary at GEMS Wellington International School, before moving to GEMS World Academy – Dubai for secondary. Mr Baumgartner graduated GEMS World Academy in Dubai in 2020 to study Engineering at the University of Oxford. In his first-year exams, he secured a Distinction. Following this achievement, he received the award of Exhibitioner.
Maryam Junaid is 16 years old, Canadian and a Year 11 student at the Sheffield Private School in Dubai. She writes: “I am very delighted to participate in this challenge. Neina’s character has prospered from the very first chapter and, in this chapter, I have unravelled the appearance of Archie. I am excited to see where this novel progresses... Good luck to the next writers!”
With over 30 years of experience as a school leader and teacher, the latter being in the international arena, Matthew joined Nord Anglia Education at the British International School Bratislava in 2013 before moving to NAS Dubai in August 2016. Matthew firmly believes in the importance of a rounded approach to education and developed the school enrichment programme with a strong focus on co-curricular activities, expeditions, international–mindedness and leadership. He took his first degree in English studying at Oriel College Oxford followed by an MA in Language and Education at Leeds and a PGCE at The University of East Anglia. He holds the National Professional Qualification for Headship and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Happily married with three grown up children Matthew is very excited to take up the Principalship at NAS Dubai and comments: “I think that the early success of NAS Dubai is quite amazing. The culture is very stable and the DNA is strong. Our ambition is straightforward - For NAS to be the school in Dubai which is known to be the best because it is the place where the learning is great, where the results are outstanding and the community is distinguished. My job is to ensure that this is what unfolds and with parents, children, teachers and staff all working together supported by Nord Anglia Education I have no doubts that this is the best place to be. “
Matthew James is Head of Post-16 and Assistant Principal at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis. Growing up in South Wales, he studied English Literature at the University of Wales, Swansea, graduating in 2003. In 2008 he studied for a PGCE in Secondary English. Now a teacher with fifteen years' experience, Mr James is an advocate of lifelong learning, a defender of every child's right to an outstanding education without compromise - and is an educator by conviction and vocation. Mr James completed his Master’s degree in Education in 2014. 
Maya Adham is Egyptian and studies in Year 10 at Dunecrest American School in Dubai. Miss Adham writes: "In this chapter, I wanted to show a glimpse of Neina’s strengths and abilities. Every woman deserves a chance to stand out, and I find that a current struggle in the real world. This challenge was a great opportunity and a great learning experience, as well. I can’t wait to see how the next chapters develop Neina’s character!"
Mishal Faraz is Indian, 13 years old and a Year 9 student at The Winchester School - Jebel Ali, in Dubai. She writes:"I cannot express how thrilled I feel to be a part of this very innovative challenge which is a brilliant exemplar of collaboration between students from all over the UAE. The past few weeks have seen some absolutely fantastic writing and I feel honoured to have been passed the baton. What has really intrigued me about the proceedings in the story is the potential it has to become a social documentary about some profoundly pressing issues of our time- ethnicity based discrimination, the crushing effect it can have on minds, rivalry in the corporate world - as well as the stigma attached to mental health and well-being. I’ve kept the language very simple without going into imagery or metaphor because I wanted to utilize the word limit to put an end to the dichotomy between reality and illusion. Our Neina is now back in the human world and I’m excited to see how the future authors shape the story. All the best..."
Mishal Faraz is thirteen years old, Indian and a student in Year 9 at The Winchester School in Jebel Ali. She writes: "It is an absolute honour to be able to contribute to this exemplary, innovative initiative by and This never before attempted endevour has truly shown what wonders we can do if we work together. I’ve followed Neina’s journey, in every detail, since the first chapter. The story, until now, has been told from Neina’s perspective. Relying on omniscient narration, I have written this chapter from Charlotte’s perspective. I feel that Neina has been very lonely for the past 40 chapters; she has been quarantined in her own private hell with no one she can trust. By decoding Charlotte’s thoughts in this chapter, as well as by making Frankie’s thoughts more explicit, I have attempted to give steadfast allies to Neina. As readers, we now know that she has people she can rely on. After all the deceptions and ordeals that she has suffered, I look forward to our Neina getting the much-needed stability and respite she so dearly needs as the jumbled pieces of the puzzle that has become her troubled life begin to fall back into their rightful place."
Mishal Faraz is fourteen years old, Indian and a Year 10 student at the Winchester School Jebel Ali. Miss Faraz writes: “’The Write a Novel Challenge’ by and WhichSchoolAdvisor has truly been a highlight of the Covid Summer in the UAE. This terrible virus turned all our lives upside down and it was imperative that we stayed home. This novel gave us back something we could believe in, and follow. It brought students from schools all over the UAE together. It gave us a connection with each other. It gave us … hope. This project has been the first of its kind in our nation. It has been ambitious and innovative. Words fail to express how thrilled I feel that I could be a part of it. Neina will always be an unforgettable character for all the authors who have been part of her journey - and all the readers who have lived through that journey day after day and made the novel their own. To be given a chance to bring this incredible story to a conclusion is a privilege and profound honour. This has been a tale of resilience, courage, sacrifice and fortitude. It is a story which tells us that there are extraordinary possibilities in all of us as ordinary (and not so ordinary) individuals. The story will stay with me, us…. forever. And it is on that note only, fleetingly, I say goodbye to Neina, our ‘girl made of stars’, knowing that tomorrow is, for all of us, a new day in which everything, absolutely everything, is possible ….
Mnahil Fahad is 18 years old, Pakistani and a student in Year 13 at Scholars International Academy in Sharjah. She writes: ""Following Neina's story has been really fun, but the character of Janus really interested me so I thought it would be fun to explore his backstory as well. Good luck to the next author, and hope you have fun."
The “Write a Novel Challenge” by and has truly been a trail blazing initiative in the nation which has kept students creatively involved - and given so many schools the opportunity to collaborate over something memorable. I am so deeply honoured to be a part of this wonderful initiative. Neina’s journey has traced various trajectories, but what has remained constant at the core of it all is that she is destined to fulfil a “prophecy”. As we are now in the final weeks of the challenge, I see it as imperative to clearly define this prophecy so that the future authors can start building towards the conclusion of the novel. Our magnum opus “The Prophecy Tower” awaits a breathtaking culmination. All the best to the future authors. Write and shine!"
Nandini Nambiar is fifteen years old, Indian and a student in Year 10 at Hartlands International School in Dubai. She writes: "I enjoy creative writing and have found the chapters extremely entertaining and thrilling at the same time. Neina has endured a lot since the first chapter and I am eagerly waiting to read how the story unfolds. Good luck!"
Natalia Anwer is fifteen years old, Pakistani and a student in Year 10 at Nibras International School in Dubai.
Natasha Bajaj is an expat mother and author of the children’s book ‘Hinglish: Meri Naani Ma’. Natasha Baja spent many years in the UAE, growing to love and care for its people and culture, before relocating to Singapore in 2021. The mapping and understanding of cultures and how they impact on the lives of children plays a central part in the development of her writing and philosophy.
At the time of publication, Miss Nil Keskin is a Grade 12 student at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai. Miss Keskin is studying for the International Baccalaureate Diploma and has a passionate interest in Economics. Miss Keskin plans to progress to university study in the Netherlands.
Philip L Dackiw is 15 years old, of German-American nationality and a Year 10 student at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi. He writes: ‘I was under the impression that in recent chapters many narratives have been dedicated towards Neina and the perils she encounters. I therefore thought it suitable to provide a moment of tranquillity and a harbor of safety for Neina to return to whenever in mortal danger. This chapter was further meant to provide insight to the reader of the actual purpose of Neina’s quest. During these unpredictable times I have realized the joy in contributing to a creative story devised by many young authors and wish the next in line good luck! The name Janus is relevant ...
Polina Chirkova is 14 years old, Russian and a student in Year 9 at Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi. She writes: "I'm very grateful to have taken part in this creative and inspiring challenge! I've thoroughly enjoyed the process of each character's growth over the chapters and the different perspectives and ideas every author has incorporated into the story. Each chapter was super unique and creative. In my chapter I wanted to expand on the idea of humanising Isla and allow her to take a step away from being the evil character by reviving Neina with the help of Charlotte, who I also wanted to make more likeable. I'm very excited to see how the story progresses!"
Praneeth Jose is fourteen years old, Indian and a student in Grade 9 at Amity Private School in Sharjah. She writes: "This was a great opportunity for me to show my skill and creativity. I hope the next author will add even more interesting twists to the novel and enjoy the pleasure of writing their chapter. Roll on Chapter 52!”
Rachel Deyis is 17 years old, Indian and a student in Year 12 at Sharjah English School. She writes: "This book has definitely taken some unexpected twists and turns, and I wanted to use this chapter to address the unresolved mystery of the argyle scarf guy and what happened at the end of Ch 16. I thought it would be fun to stretch out the suspense with the cliff-hanger from the previous chapter, and help prepare Neina to deal with whatever it is was that she saw, which I think could make for a pivotal moment in the book! I’m eagerly looking forward to how future authors shape this story!"
Ruby Shadwell is 13 years old, British and a Year 8 student at Horizon International School in Dubai. She writes: "I have been so intrigued by this story ever since the first chapter! I love how everyone's taken their part and made it so different, with so many new ideas that I never thought of. I thoroughly enjoyed writing my part, and I cannot wait to see where the next turn takes this story!"
Ryan Taoutaou is 14 years old, British and a Year 9 student at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi. He writes: "After reading all of the other chapters it is incredible how many twists and turns one specific character can experience in such a short period of time. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in this diverse book.”
Sabaa Rashid is thirteen years old, Bangladeshi and a student in Year 8 at Sharjah English School. She writes: "Writing is a hobby I’ve always been fond of - to be able to create immersive worlds for readers out of words is a magical talent that I greatly admire. I aspire to master it someday. Participating in challenges such as these are unique learning experiences that contribute towards improving upon my skills, and, most importantly, are great fun! Following Neina’s journey has been thrilling, as every chapter continues to capture my attention - and I do hope all writers involved in this enjoy it as much as I did. Good luck!"
Salma Ghalwash is Egyptian, 16 years old and a Year 11 student studying at Deira International School in Dubai. Miss Ghalwash writes: "I am impatiently waiting for all the following authors to develop the concepts I placed in this chapter. I cannot wait to see how their own verve, innovation and experimentation will transform the characters into something extraordinary. The Write a Novel Challenge is creating a product of many minds under various constraints, whether it be time, quarantine ..... or the occasional creativity block."
Samhita Roychoudhury is sixteen years old, Indian and a student in Grade 11 and Universal American School in Dubai. She writes: "I’m in awe of the countless writers and the concept of this project uniting us in creating this whole fictive universe that we can step into. I can’t begin to express my gratitude for this opportunity. I hope I did justice to setting the tone for Neina’s intelligence and individuality. With her epiphany and resolution closing the last chapter, it was almost too good of a chance to pass up on clarifying some of the queries the readers may have, tie up some plot points together, and build the framework solidifying a purpose or an intent for this section of the book. I’m beyond excited to see how the story unfolds and I wish the best of luck to the next writers in line!"
Mrs Sarah Lambert is an experienced English teacher and examiner, currently teaching English, Latin and HPQ/EPQ at Dubai College. Mrs Lambert previously taught at RGS Guildford (UK) and Guildford High School. 2023 marks Mrs Lambert's twentieth year of teaching. She read English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, completed her PGCE there (teaching at John Mason School, Abingdon and Banbury School) and returned to Oxford in 2016-2019 for a MSc in Learning and Teaching. Mrs Lambert arrived at Dubai College in 2012. Alongside teaching, Mrs Lambert is responsible for Oxbridge applications as well as being a Specialist Leader in Education, developing oracy and Harkness lessons across the school. Mrs Lambert is a Voice 21 International Oracy Leader. During the COVID years, Mrs Lambert founded the Dubai Oracy Hub, a platform through which practitioners and academics can share ideas and promote oracy. She champions the use of talk in classrooms to enhance learning and develop students’ confidence in using their voices and listening to the views of others. Her MSc Learning and Teaching research looked at the positive impact of Harkness lessons on students’ confidence and her NPQSL project focused on embedding and tracking oracy progress in KS3 lessons across departments. Mrs Lambert has delivered oracy CPD sessions to several schools in Dubai and has presented at national and international conferences, including the Global Schools Festival (with Professor Neil Mercer) and the Speaking Citizens Conference: The Uses of Oracy. She has recently been invited to co-author a chapter on international oracy for a CUP book. When not teaching, Mrs Lambert can be found leading a Cub Scout Pack, reading, or sailing with her family.
Shahinaz El Sayed is nineteen years old, American and a Grade 12 student at iCademy Middle East in Dubai. She writes: "It has been a privilege to take part in this challenge, and I find myself wondering, more and more, about what is happening to Neina. How much of the story really happened? How much is simply in her head? In this chapter, I have tried to make readers question this even more..."
Simon Herbert joined GEMS Education in 2020 as Head of School/CEO of GEMS International School – Al Khail. A dynamic, culturally astute school leader skilled at encouraging and inspiring both students and staff, Simon has worked in the education sphere for over 30 years, having taught and held leadership roles in high-profile schools across the globe. Prior to joining GEMS, Simon was based in China, where he quickly rose to the position of Headmaster of Dulwich College Beijing after initially joining as Head of Senior School. Over the course of his eight years at Dulwich, the school achieved consistently high average IB results as well as superb university placements, while maintaining its holistic and philanthropic values. With Simon at the helm, the school also picked up numerous accolades, including the International Schools Award 2019 for Creativity in Learning and being named the Hurun Education Report’s Top Ranked International School in Beijing. Simon also spent 12 years with the prestigious Fettes College in Edinburgh, Scotland, first as Head of Modern Languages and then as Housemaster of Glencorse House. During his time at Fettes, he led the introduction of the IB Diploma Programme and transformed the effort grades of his house from mediocre to best-in-college. He also coached the First XI Boys’ Hockey team, who went on to win the Scottish Championship. Simon’s qualifications include an MA in Educational Leadership and Management from Bath University, a PGCE: Modern Languages from South Bank and Open University and a joint honours BA in French and Latin from Nottingham University. He is fluent in French and speaks Spanish at advanced level with an Advanced Certificate in Spanish from Institute of Linguists, London. Simon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, and a member of the Council of International Schools Inspector. In addition, during his time in China, he was twice elected to the British Chamber of Commerce in Beijing Executive Committee. As well extensive teaching and education experience, including with schools in England and Kenya, Simon has strong marketing expertise, having previously worked across advertising and marketing in London, UK. He has also represented the South of England in hockey, climbed Mount Kenya, and completed the London Marathon. Notable milestones: Sep 2020 – Appointed Head of School/CEO of GEMS International School – Al Khail, Dubai, UAE 2019 – Completed MA in Educational Leadership and Management from Bath University, UK Aug 2016 – Appointed Headmaster of Dulwich College Beijing, China Aug 2012 – Joined Dulwich College Beijing, China as Head of Senior School … Introduced IB Diploma Programme to Fettes College, Edinburgh, Scotland Sep 2005 – Appointed Housemaster of Glencorse at Fettes College, Edinburgh, Scotland Sep 2001 – Joined Fettes College, Edinburgh, Scotland as Head of Modern Languages 2000 – Completed Advanced Certificate in Spanish from Institute of Linguists, London, UK 1995 – Completed PGCE: Modern Languages from South Bank and Open University, London, UK Sep 1994 – Joined Eltham College, London, UK as French and Spanish Teacher Sep 1992 – Joined Leagas Delaney & Millward Brown, London, UK as Advertising Account Executive / Marketing Executive Sep 1990 – Joinedd Glynn School, Ewell, UK as French Teacher Sep 1989 – Joined St Andrew’s School, Turi, Kenya as French Teacher 1988 – Completed BA in French and Latin Joint Honours from Nottingham University
Sofia Syed is fourteen years old, Canadian and a Year 10 student at Kent College Dubai. She writes: ""It was such an experience to write a chapter for this novel and it was interesting to watch Neina and Isla develop over the last few months. In this chapter I decided to elaborate on two things. First, how to close the connection between worlds. Second, how to solve the issue of Isla being queen. The solution seemed to be to deal with another area of the novel that needed resolution: Freya. I can't wait to see how the next authors finish the story. Not long now!"
Solenn Anne Le Guyon is 18 years old, French and a student in Year 13 at the British International School Abu Dhabi. She writes: "I’ve been following Neina’s story closely of the past month, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the different writing styles. I wanted to delve into what drives her, and clarify what her motivations are. So, I guess this is kind of a build on what was explored in chapter 13. I also wanted to do a bit of world building, and add to her history a bit. I also wanted to refer to the ideas suggested in previous chapters, so I hope I expressed them well. I’m excited to see what happens next!"
Sophie Waddington is twelve years old, British and a student in Year 8 at the British International School in Abu Dhabi. She writes: "It has been such a pleasure to take part in this project. Getting to work with these amazing writers is such a privilege and I hope people enjoy reading my chapter and the next writer enjoys working off of my chapter. In this chapter I wanted to further explore the relationship between Neina and Charlotte, as well as the qualities of other characters that may be overlooked. Thank you so much for reading and I can't wait to see the rest of this story."
Sreya Gupta is fourteen years old, Indian and a student in Year 9 at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi. She writes: "I really would like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity; it has been so exciting to be able to follow Neina’s journey. Throughout the book, I have grown deeply attached to our protagonist, Neina. The struggles she faces within herself and society are easy to relate to and they make her that much more real to me. In this chapter, I found myself wanting to strengthen the plotline by bringing back, perhaps forgotten, discoveries made in the previous chapters, such as Isla’s claim to being the queen of Mors World, and linking them back to the current events. Additionally, I wanted to set a clear antagonist for our book, since the end is drawing near and Neina’s story must (unfortunately) come to an end. Good luck to all the upcoming authors! I can’t wait to see how Neina’s journey concludes..."
Susan Thomas is a student in Year 12 at GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, currently studying for her A-levels (2022). Miss Thomas is captain of her house and was recently selected by her school for the Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Award for Excellence. She aspires to become an engineer or astrophysicist after she leaves school. Currently studying for A-levels in Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Computer Science and Psychology, in 2022 she will be taking her EPQ.
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and Parents United's WHICHPlaydates - a regular meeting place for UAE parents to discuss the issues that matter to them, make friends and network with others. You can often find Tabitha too on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.
Talia Al Darrai is sixteen years old, Emirati and a student at Horizon International School in Dubai. Miss Al Darrai writes: "Having been assigned a chapter so close to the ending of the novel was definitely daunting at first, but having had the pleasure over the past few months to follow Neina’s story has made it all worth it. I applaud all those that have come before me. Everyone has been able to add their individualistic twists and turns whilst still staying true to the established characters. It was an honour - and just generally a fun time, to be able to contribute my own part to this. The story still carries on! And I wish the last two writers, good luck in their endeavours to give this book the truly epic ending that it deserves."
Tia Planjevic is sixteen years old, Maltese and student in Year 11 at GEMS Jumeirah College in Dubai. Ms Planojevic writes: "Ever since the introduction of Queen Orla, I was hooked. I wanted to discover more about her character. I thought that a character with such grandiose power would definitely possess some form of God Complex and, in that vein, I wanted to portray Queen Orla as God-like. These sorts of human beings in real life are complex, intimidating and visually ambiguous - and often in speaking with them they demonstrate not a single shred of doubt in what they say and their opinions. That ambiguity gave me the creative freedom to describe how Archie, a new character, viewed them for the first time. I hope the next writer can use this flashback scene to further build on the characters of Archie, Janus and Queen Orla, as well as the relationships between them. I would also be interested to see how my telling of this story will affect Neina. I've had so much fun seeing how we've been able to build this world and story, and how just how one single chapter, in the blink of any eye, can change absolutely everything."
Umar Shahzad is 14 years old, Pakistani and a student in Year 9 at GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai. He Writes:"“Neina, I think, was being set up in the novel to lose her battle with Isla. I have responded to this by trying to re-develop her character and make her realise her weaknesses. Simultaneously, I wanted to add a strange twist to the story by introducing a new character, Gersemi, and by adding a crucial event - her friend’s possible betrayal and, perhaps, her possible death? I’d love to see how the next author takes the story from here.”
Valeria Awada is 18 years old, Lebanese and a student in Year 13 at Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) Dubai - Arabian Ranches. She writes: "I enjoyed reading the fantastical elements featured in the last chapter, so I decided to continue on from that in the beginning half of my chapter. My hope was that I was able to tie in several previously mentioned themes, such as the prophecy, as I thought it would be interesting to explore them further. Moreover, I wanted to delve a little more into the backstory of Isla and Neinas’ mother and I hope the next author will be able to carry on from there."
Yasmeen Shahin is fifteen years old, Jordanian and a Year 10 student at Nord Anglia School in Dubai. Miss Shahin writes: “When I heard I was assigned the Epilogue of this novel, I was very anxious, I must admit. However, being part of this fantastic experience has made all of the worry worth it. I am completely blown away by how so many students were able to come together and write such an amazing novel. Neina’s story was told from so many different perspectives, making it incredibly special. It was very different and fun writing the story for once, instead of reading it.  However, I felt my love of reading really helped me in writing this chapter. I contemplated for a long time whether, or not, to give a final ending to this novel and Neina’s story, or to leave room for a sequel. In the end, I chose to leave room for a second novel in order that, hopefully, more students could one day share and enjoy this experience again. I decided to introduce new aspects to the story, as well as bring back some of the old ones and tie them in to the events of the last few chapters. I chose to explore the relationship Freya had with the other characters and how all of them tie in with one another and why each were important to the prophecy in some way. I always got an evil sense from Janus, so I decided that Freya would kill him. Although I have thought about why, I have kept her reasoning up for interpretation. I would like to thank my English teacher, Ms. Gray, for nominating me for this opportunity and for expanding my love of English. I would also like to thank Ms. Ranson for supporting me through this incredible experience, as well as my family for encouraging me to take up this opportunity and for supporting me while writing my chapter. Finally, I would like to say well done to all the previous writers. Your chapters were wonderful to read!”
Zoya Khan is fourteen years old, Canadian and a Year 9 student at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi. She writes: "Reading through the story so far, I decided that Neina may have needed that short break before adding some of my own action into it. I truly enjoyed being a part of this opportunity and am looking forward to seeing the end result. Good luck to the next writers in line!"