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Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Names Ousha Al Suwaidi (Fatat Al Arab) as ‘Focused Personality of the Fair’

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) 2019, taking place from 24 to 30 April, has selected the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi (also known as ‘Fatat Al Arab’) as its ‘Focused Personality of the Fair’, in recognition of her major impact on the UAE’s legacy of Nabati poetry.

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), ADIBF is dedicated to honouring and celebrating the achievements of Arab cultural icons. The 29th edition of the Fair will showcase Al Suwaidi’s career, detailing how her work has contributed to enriching both the heritage of poetry in the UAE and the wider Arab literary scene, and will include a dedicated section in DCT Abu Dhabi’s pavilion presenting the most important literary achievements of the late poet.

In 1989, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, recognised Al Suwaidi as a pioneer of Nabati poetry by honouring her with the name ‘Fatat Al Arab’.

HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary at Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi said: “DCT Abu Dhabi is proud to name Fatat Al-Arab as ADIBF’s ‘Focused Personality of the Fair’ in recognition of her contributions to and enrichment of Emirati culture, namely in the field of Nabati poetry. Through her writings and poems dealing with national and pan-Arab issues, Al Suwaidi became an influential and inspirational pillar of Arab culture. The 2019 Fair will serve as a valuable platform through which we may keep her words alive, shedding light on her life and work as an exemplary model of an Emirati woman who upheld and embodied our values and ideals.”

Al Suwaidi was born in Muwaiji, Al Ain but later settled in Dubai. Throughout her life, Al Suwaidi engaged in poetry contests with some of the UAE’s greatest poets, including the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as Ahmed bin Ali Al Kindi and Saeed bin Hilal Al Dhaheri.

In one of his poems, the late Sheikh Zayed depicted her as a pillar of poetry, saying:

“O, pillar of passion and poetry, I am drawn by your poetic images”

Al Suwaidi took Emirati poetry to new heights, and greatly expanded its influence. Her poems reflected the many major historical and social transformations she witnessed in the UAE and wider Arab world, inspiring artists such as Jaber Jasem, Ali Bin Rogha, Mehad Hamad and others to turn them into songs.

Although she stopped writing in the late 1990s, she continued to recite her poems praising the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

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