The Ibn Battuta Prize is offered for the best essay on a topic related to the Arab and Islamicate world. It is an exciting opportunity to venture beyond the schoolroom and find out about something completely new. The first prize is £100. There are also prizes for the essays placed second and third.

Ibn Battuta of Tangiers was a 14th century traveller and scholar. He spent 29 years journeying through all of the Arab and Muslim world, covering some 73,000 miles.

On his return, he wrote an account of his travels, in which he reflected on the peoples, cultures and customs he came across.

All pupils from all schools are welcome to participate, especially sixth-formers.

If interested, e-mail Mr Shirwani at Eton College ( to register and start thinking about which topic you would like to look into. (Examples of topics from previous years include: Russian influences on Arab culture; Christianity in the Arab world; the Suez crisis, medieval wine poetry; the economy of Dubai; and the history of Arab music.) You will then be contacted in mid-January in order to finalise your essay title and receive guidance on the research and writing process. The word limit is 2,000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography. Essays need to be submitted by Friday 28 February.

This year’s adjudicator is Tim Mackintosh-Smith, the historian and translator, who is an authority on the life of Ibn Battuta and has travelled in his footsteps.