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UNESCO and Idries Shah Foundation launch “World Tales” Short Story Competition

The deadline for submission to worldtales@unesco.org(link sends e-mail) is 15 October 2020 at midnight (CET).

With the aim to foster imagination, resourcefulness and ingenuity, UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation (ISF) launch the World Tales Short Story Competition in close collaboration with the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities of UNESCO (ICCAR).

Young teenagers from all over the globe are invited to write about the challenges of today and tomorrow in the format of a short story and share their perspectives.

The theme of this 2020 First Edition is “Once upon a time in my future”.

Who is eligible?

Participants must be between 12 and 18 years old (inclusive). The Competition is open to all regardless of their nationality or city of residence.

How to participate?

Entries must be:

  • Short stories of 250 to 500 words;

  • Typed in English or French using Arial 12-point Regular font;

  • Original unpublished works of fiction;

  • Stories on the potential for future societies to be fair, inclusive, peaceful, resilient, sustainable and/or tolerant.


  • Three Laureates — Gold, Silver and Bronze — will be selected from each of the seven national and regional Coalitions forming ICCAR. All 21 names will be announced on December 2020.

  • We regret to announce that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will unfortunately not be possible to organize a high-level conference at UNESCO Headquarters, as initially planned, and to invite the laureates to attend.

  • However, all will be invited to attend an online Award ceremony in December 2020 during which the names of the seven Gold winning laureates will be announced.

  • Each of these Gold winning laureates will be awarded an iPad.

  • The Idries Shah Foundation will publish the work of the 21 laureates in a special edition hardcover book. It will feature all winning short stories and honourable mentions and will be made available in ePub format.

  • All winning laureates will receive a copy of the book and a personalized certificate.

  • Schools and cities of the 21 laureates will receive copies of the book and a set of ISF children’s books for their public libraries.

Download the complete set of rules


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