Writer’s Retreat in El Gouna (But Not Really for Egyptians)

I had no idea, (until it was mentioned in Al Masry Al Youm) but apparently there is a writer’s residency program in El Gouna.

I also had no idea that there was a Biblioteca Alexandrina branch in Gouna. Resort towns—is that where they’ve been hiding the libraries? I suppose I should’ve known.

Anyhow, the first thing I wanted to know was: Is this writer’s retreat open to Egyptians? Sort of:

  • El Gouna Writers’ Residency is open to international writers who have published books in the categories of novels, short stories, poetry or plays
  • Writers should have a specific project they will be developing or completing at the Residency
  • Regardless of the country of origin, the applicant must be fluent in speaking either English or French

I know that the IPAF organizers put together a writer’s retreat last year, but I’m not sure how the writers were selected, or what the application process might’ve been. Other writer’s residencies/retreats/programs aimed at literary artists who work in Arabic?


  1. El-Gouna`s a nice place. I`ve been there in 2004 and had a great time. An inspiring place

    1. I guess I rarely manage to leave Cairo.

      But a place with a library and a writer’s retreat certainly can’t be all bad! We’ll put it on the list….

      1. Hello,

        If you’ve read the article then you’d have known that the last month ( June’s session) happened to have the first Egyptian writer in the residency. which was me. I am an Egyptian who Lives in Egypt and i carry only this nationality.

        Just fill in the application and send it.

        if you’ve any questions am willing to answer it


        Samar Ali

        P.S Kindly watch this video

  2. Samar,

    I know that it’s available to Egyptians (or anyone of any nationality) but since the requirement is writing in English, that’s why I say “not really.” Perhaps I should’ve said “but only for Egyptians who write in English.”

    1. No!

      who said so?

      it is for Egyptians who writes in Arabic, in English or in any other language!

      you’ve to know English cuz this is the mean of communication with the other writers. and that is it! it is not a TOEFL!

      1. I’m very sorry for any incorrect information; I read in the rules that the writer must submit his or her work in English. I got this information from the retreat’s website rules.

        I would be happy to run a correction if you would give me more details.

        It is possible for writers to submit their work in Arabic and be considered for the retreat? (Yet, all the events occur in English?)

        I am not thinking it is a TOEFL, and I myself teach creative writing in English to Egyptians, so I can’t object to Egyptians writing in English, I just would like to see a writer’s retreat open to Arabic-writing authors. There are many retreats worldwide available to English-writing authors.

  3. Of course i can give u any details u need

    just tell me what u need.

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