This Reading Month, Delve into the World of These Female Emirati Writers
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the month of March has been declared "Reading Month." Going by the slogan "UAE Reads," the Emirati nation is encouraging everyone to find their passion for reading through this annual event. On the authoring end, writing can be the most engaging form of storytelling with the power to leave a long-lasting impression on readers, and in the UAE there is a growing number of female writers whose words are leaving a mark on the nation and beyond. Let’s take a look at five such female writers, starting with….
Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza Al Nahyan
Her Highness Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza Al Nahyan is a well-known author of children's books diving into UAE's culture and heritage. At the age of 21, she successfully published "The Invisible Orphans" and, in November 2021, she showcased "The Horse, the Saluki & the Falcon" at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Currently, she has been trying her hand on short stories with "Mouth of the Lion" said to touch on UAE's history, as well as focusing on a haunted island at Ras Al Khaimah.
Renowned for her works such as "We" and "Nightfall," Afra Atiq is an award-winning poet who has left her mark on a world stage. Outside the UAE, she has also performed in countries such as the United States, in addition to holding workshops through Untitled Chapters as her means to give back to society. In 2017, Atiq became one of the first oral poets in the country to win the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) Creativity Award. She has also been published in the International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as appearing on TEDxFujairah, universities, to name a few.
Asma Kalban is another author known for writing books for children in the UAE. With an appreciation for Arabic and Emirati culture, she's well-known for her works such as "Weaving a Square," a book about a girl diagnosed with autism who has a love for knitting squares. It became part of the UAE's fourth grade curriculum for two school years, with Kalban simultaneously investing all her book's earnings towards educational programs for autistic children.
Roudha Al Marri
Roudha Al Marri is an author with a passion for travel. Previously working for corporations, she decided to become an author and would go on to publish "UAE 101 – Stories and Cultural Learnings." Together with Italian co-author Ilaria Caielli, the pair promoted the book as a celebration of the nation's culture and history, while offering 101 anecdotes and cultural tips for living in the UAE.
Maytha Al Khayat
Maytha Al Khayat is a children's author, and illustrator, with an impressive portfolio of over 160 books in just a decade. Her books have left a mark on readers, with "My Own Special Way" being named the best book at the Children's Forum, in Riyadh, in 2011, and "Turn off the Lights" named the best picture book at the Publishers' Forum, in Sharjah, in 2016. When she isn't writing books for children, she also dives into young adult novels such as "Tofan," while writing for popular TV shows like the Arabic version of "Sesame Street."