Meet the young Emirati author and activist hoping to boost climate literacy among children

AlDhabi Almheiri is also an activist and publisher of other young writers

AlDhabi Almheiri is the founder of online bookshop and publisher, Rainbow Chimney, which aims to educate children about climate change. Photo: AlDhabi Almheiri
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In a world dominated by screens and busy schedules, AlDhabi Almheiri stands out as a young visionary, wielding the power of words to shape a brighter future for children.

The Emirati nine-year-old, who lives in Abu Dhabi, is an author, activist, entrepreneur and founder of the bookstore and publishing house Rainbow Chimney.

She launched the online bookshop during the pandemic in 2020, when she noticed how children were glued to screens.

Imagine a world with no electronics and no one reads books – no one will be able to read or write
AlDhabi Almheiri, nine, founder of Rainbow Chimney

“I've always loved reading and I'm passionate about books,” AlDhabi told The National.

The book store specialises in children's books and toys for ages ranging from infants to 13 years old, including children with special needs such as ADHD, Down's syndrome, autism, and visual impairments.

It also offers books in various languages, including English, French and Arabic, all printed on bamboo paper.

Each book on the website is chosen by AlDhabi to ensure they are fun, educational and suitable for children.

“Imagine a world with no electronics and no one reads books – no one will be able to read and write,” AlDhabi said.

Two months ago, AlDhabi launched Eco Club, a website that is a safe space for young children to share their thoughts. She said she was inspired by the impact of climate change.

“I wanted children to learn, understand and take action,” AlDhabi said.

“Everything we do in our life has an impact on the environment and children have to be aware of this because children are the future.”

The website contains educational games that teach youngsters about the environment and information on climate change.

AlDhabi's mission is to influence 10,000 children to undertake 10,000 individual actions aimed at protecting the environment through the Eco Club.

She has visited more than 50 schools to raise awareness about sustainability and to encourage pupils to do a good deed.

Mouza AlDarmaki, AlDhabi's mother, believes it is important to create a generation of children who believe in themselves and supports her daughter.

“I've noticed how a child loses interest when something is forced on them. But with AlDhabi, I encourage her to push herself and to follow her passions and interests,” she said.

“AlDhabi influenced her love of books and reading on me too. I felt very happy and proud as a mother when I saw her impact on other children.”

Opportunities for aspiring young authors

Rainbow Chimney bookstore also encourages the next generation of writers to enter the world of publishing.

Its initiative, Books from Children to Children, provides opportunities for aspiring authors aged from four to 10 to have their work published.

Around 21 children signed their own books at this year's Cop28 in Dubai, which also included the world's youngest author, Saeed Almheiri, who published a book at the age of four years and 218 days,

All submitted books are left unedited as AlDhabi believes that letting children's unique styles show in their stories makes them more authentic, “like a friend sharing a story”.

Publishing books through Rainbow Chimney is free of charge as it is supported by AlDhabi's family members.

UAE-based Madeya AlDhaheri published her book, The Little Mermaid, earlier this year.

The 10-year-old, who has Down's syndrome, said she was inspired by AlDhabi.

“I wrote a book about sustainability to help keep our environment clean and suitable for humans and animals to live in,” Madeya said.

“I care about the environment because it is the place we live in.”

Aws Ashraf, 10, from Jordan, also wrote and published his book, Environment Friend, this year.

“I chose Rainbow Chimney to publish my book because I received unlimited support, and AlDhabi encouraged me to read and write,” Aws said.

“I think children should read books and educate themselves so we can change the future.

“We should also help to save the environment and I think it is important for children to be educated by saving the climate.”

Dubai-based Hessa Beljafla, nine, brought out three books this year through Rainbow Chimney and says it's important for children to have a place to publish their work and inspire others.

“Some books are too silly for children and some even have a lot of bad words, so I think it's great that children are able to make books for others to teach them about the environment,” she said.

Her latest book, Recycle Today for a Greener Tomorrow, was inspired by her love of nature.

“If children keep throwing rubbish, it will affect the Earth and the cost will be high,” she said.

“If the Earth is not saved, there will be a lot of earthquakes, heavy rain and more sun.”

Updated: December 22, 2023, 3:34 PM