With more than 1,000 publishers from 80 countries participating in this year's Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, the annual literary event is becoming an increasingly global affair.
The fair maintains its strong local focus, however, offering authors living in the UAE a platform to launch new works and showcase titles fresh off the press that delve into the country’s culture, history and environment.
Here are three books on the UAE that have been launched at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair this year.
While Sunday may be the fair's final day, these books will still be available to buy as they'll soon be in most bookstores across the UAE.
'Arabic Thoughts in English Poems'
Arabic Thoughts in English Poems by Huda Jamal, an Emirati author and lecturer at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, is an anthology of poems that Jamal has written over the course of 10 years.
Having studied English literature at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jamal says she is influenced by 19th-century US poets including Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost as well as British romantic writers such as William Wordsworth and William Blake.
“I’m really inspired by the music in Dickinson’s poetry, the way she moves from line to line,” Jamal tells . “In my own work, I don’t care much about traditional poetic patterns, but I wouldn’t ignore the basic elements of music and rhythm in poetry.”
The book, Jamal says, contains 161 poems segmented into five chapters and themes.
“The first chapter is about the UAE. As locals, we are so proud of our country and leaders. The poems talk about love for the country, Sheikh Zayed and Abu Dhabi. The second chapter is called 'Childhood Rhymes'. It features memories from my childhood, and episodes with my own children.
"The third chapter is about encouraging people to read and write. Chapter four is belief and faith, whereas the final chapter features reflections based on my experiences.”
Jamal says she spent considerable time honing the musicality of each poem. “They are written in free verse,” she says. “But I worked to make them rhythmic because it’s part of our culture to have such poetry, that’s why the book is called Arabic Thoughts in English Poems.”
The book, Jamal says, is an initiative to present Emirati culture in English, and it is not her first literary effort with that aim. In 2020, she published Children and Heroes, a bilingual English-Arabic book of short stories that won the Khalifa Award for Education.
'Dare to Dream: How Mohammed bin Rashid Made His Dream of Dubai Come True'
An English translation of Dare to Dream: How Mohammed bin Rashid Made His Dream of Dubai Come True was officially launched at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on Saturday.
Authored by Raed Barqawi, editor-in-chief of Al Khaleej newspaper, who has three decades of experience as a local journalist, the book is a tribute to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and the steps he took to put Dubai on the global map.
“I’ve been living in the country for 30 years, I am a part of it,” Barqawi says. “I’ve been following the projects and achievements of His Highness for the last 30 years. I wanted to share these experiences and observations.”
Translating the book from its original Arabic was not a straightforward endeavour, Barqawi says.
“To transfer what you have from one language to another is not easy,” he says. “I co-operated with Atef Rifai, a journalist and translator, for the translation, whereas Vicky Kapur edited the book.”
“Publishing the English edition of my book allows me to engage non-Arab readers who may have always wondered about its protagonist, the man behind Dubai’s success and its global repute and success — a leader who gave us the courage to dream, and gave millions of Arabs hope for a better future,” Barqawi said, in a separate statement.
“I have tried to address two key questions in my book,” he said. “For one, how did Sheikh Mohammed do the impossible and turn Dubai into this unique global role model? And two, how did His Highness manage to foster a culture that values and emphasises planning and working for the future in the Arab world, a region that had stopped aspiring for a better future decades ago?”
Also making its debut at the book fair is the Arabic-language book My Garden, which explores the gardening and farming methods of the UAE. The book is written by business adviser Shaju Jamaluddin and medical professional Aysha Umma, both of whom have years of gardening experience and a keen interest in green energy, zero-waste projects and eco-friendly architecture.
My Garden sheds light on the various benefits of gardening for individuals, families and society. It also covers other topics such as beekeeping and gardening in schools. The book is divided into nine chapters, opening with a dedication to the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and is divided by his quote “Give me agriculture, I will guarantee a civilisation”.
“This book will serve as an inspiration to those who wish to create their own family garden or a garden in the school or a community garden,” the authors shared, in a statement.
The duo are currently developing Springdale Eco Farms and Gardens, an integrated farm with educational and agritourism facilities, in the South Indian state of Kerala. A part of the farm is dedicated to Sheikh Zayed.