UAE Portrait of a Nation: Sharjah-based poet is a man of many words, in many languages

Sharjah-based Syrian writer Nouzad Jaadan took to writing at the age of 15 and has since published five books. Being a polyglot, he has tried to bridge cultures and people.

Nouzad Jaadan: ‘Writing, for me, is a necessity and an outlet to express my feelings and explore myself.’ Reem Mohammed / The National
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Nouzad Jaadan is a man of many words. The Syrian journalism graduate spends his spare time writing poetry, short stories and translating works in languages including Turkish and Urdu into English and Arabic with the aim of bridging the gap between cultures.

The 30-year-old is the author of five books, three of them collections of his poetry, one an anthology of short stories and the other an in-depth look at the history of Bollywood titled Founders of the Indian Cinema which profiles key figures in the country's film industry.

His love of the written word was instilled at a young age thanks to his father, an Arabic teacher.

“We had a large library, and I was drawn to reading and writing at a young age,” said Jaadan, whose eldest brother is a film director.

“I started writing in 2000. I began with short stories and continued my studies. Writing, for me, is a necessity and an outlet to express my feelings and explore myself. It’s like eating and breathing. I need it to stay alive.”

Jaadan graduated in 2009 with a degree in journalism from Damascus University. Soon after he left his home and travelled to Turkey where he stayed for two years. He then arrived in the UAE to work as a media staffer in the public works department at Sharjah Municipality.

“I travelled to many countries, and got to know the cultures and history, which inspired me to translate poems in English and Turkish as well as Urdu.”

Much of what he has written in Arabic addresses the region's problems. "The majority of my writing stems from my home country where my family is still living in a difficult time due to the problems there. It's about experiences I went through, stories that I have witnessed, or the beautiful scenery before the war," said Jaadan, who released his latest book of poetry titled So Happy at this year's Sharjah International Book Fair.

In 2010, his work won a couple of awards. "I received an award from Castello di Duino from Italy, and the following month another award from Croatia's Art-Attack poetry," said Jaadan, who took part in the hit show Prince of Poets on Abu Dhabi TV.

Jaadan helped to establish the Poets and Artists for a Different World, a group that helped him to reach other poets across the world and get to know their work. Members of the group interact on their Facebook page.

“The group on social media aims to assert the importance of poetry itself as an instrument of change and enlightenment,” said Jaadan, who has had his poems published in Greek and French.

“Sharing poetry enhances the understanding of other cultures way of living, their likes and dislikes.” He is now busy translating a selection of poetry in Urdu and Turkish into Arabic, and working on a play on problems affecting the Arab world.