A young girl from Saudi Arabia has broken the Guinness World Record to become the globe's youngest writer of a novel series.
Ritaj Alhazmi, 12, has published a series of three English-language novels, two of which came out before her last birthday.
"I couldn't believe my family when they told me I got the Guinness World Record," Alhazmi tells The National.
She had her eyes on the prize since the publication of her first book three years ago. However, she made her official application for the record in October.
“We have been waiting for the award since then," Hussain Alhazmi, Ritaj's father, says. "They informed us only this week that she broke the record last November."
The young novelist, who signed a contract with a publishing house in 2020, was introduced to the world of books in early childhood by her family, she explains.
"My parents used to take me to libraries and workshops for children where I became enchanted by the concepts of fiction and the world of creativity in writing."
She quickly fell in love with a world of imagination, she adds. "I liked that, in writing, any idea is possible, and so decided to try it for myself."
She has been awarded for her Treasure of the Lost Sea series, which includes the novels Treasure of the Lost Sea, Portal of the Hidden World and Beyond the Future World.
In the third book, she explored the genre of science-fiction. "I introduce new creatures and robots. I also include travelling through worlds,’ she explains.
She's now working on a fourth book, which is a standalone called Fancy Sky.
"It is about a girl who is trying to find her true destiny, and it also has mythical creatures," Ritaj explains.
Another called Story of the Rainbow Butterfly is also listed on her website, and she says she's writing a piece of non-fiction inspired by Bill Gates's book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.
“I read his book which talks about climate change, climate disaster and how we can all contribute to help save the world from this disaster," she says.
As with her novels, Ritaj is writing this book for children and young adults, hoping it will inspire them to help save the planet. She also has a YouTube channel on which she posts videos teaching children the craft of writing books.
"I think that the books for my age are still not enough. We need more books that speak to us."
Now she's received recognition from Guinness World Records, Ritaj has her sights set on new prizes, and she's aiming high.
"I really want one day to receive a Nobel Prize for my writings," she says, ambitiously.
"I wanted to challenge myself to get an award for the books I published to inspire and motivate children my age to start writing, and encourage them that they can do anything and reach their goals if they want."