Google dedicates doodle to Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani

Google’s doodle celebrating Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani’s 93rd birthday. Courtesy Google
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The legendary prince of poets, the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, known as the “woman’s poet” and “poet of love” for his timeless romantic, sensual, patriotic and feminist poetry was chosen as a Google Doodle on his birthday on March 21, which interestingly enough, is also Mother’s Day in the Arab world.

He would have been 93 today. Qabbani was born in Damascus in 1923 (a city he often referred to as his ‘mother’) and died from illness in London at the age of 75 in 1998 after a lifetime of travels as a diplomat, an artist, a poet and a writer.

In a career spanning five decades Qabbani expressed the aspiration, hopes and frustration of millions of Arabs, especially women.

Hitting a chord even today with their universal timeless themes of love, heartache, nationalism and dreams, Qabbani’s poems are constantly re-shared on social media, with dozens or so accounts set up in his name.

An important contemporary poet, he is also known for revolutionising Arab poetry with his simpler verses accessible and understandable to a wider audience.

Fans and users of the net can revisit some of his favourite spots through today’s four Doodles, drawn by Alyssa Winans, that were inspired by Qabbani’s words.

The drawings pay tribute to the cities where the Syrian poet spent periods of his life, such as Beirut, Baghdad, and his hometown of Damascus.

The doodles illustrate important periods in the poet’s lifetime during in which he wrote some of his most celebrated works.

His favourite childhood flower, the Damascus Jasmine, surrounds Qabbani as he sits in a traditional Damascus home courtyard.

There is also the ‘moon hotel’ in Beirut, the palm trees of Baghdad (among which he met his second wife and love of his life Balqis), and an illustration of Qabbani working at his house alongside a doodle simply named: “home.”

“Through our doodles, we try to get closer to our users by highlighting key events close to their hearts. Nizar Qabbani is a titan of Arabic poetry and we’re happy to remember him on his 93rd birthday. We hope that this Doodle reminds his fans of his celebrated work and also act as an introduction to the younger generations,” said Google’s MENA product marketing manager Zain Masri.

Google has celebrated the enduring legacy of key Arab figures with special doodles over the years, including Egyptian legendary singers Umm Kulthum and Abdel Halim Hafez, Egyptian actor Farid Shawki and Syrian Druze princess and singer Asmahan.

rghazal@thenational.ae