Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Personality of the Year Award

Hot off the press – it’s buzzing at the Emirates Festival of Literature and Poet Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi, pioneering Emirati women’s poet, dubbed “Girl of the Arabs” by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today received the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2014 Personality of the Year award.

Dr. Rafia Ghubash, founder of the Women’s Museum, UAE, and Al Suwaidi’s biographer, accepted the award on her behalf from Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul at a ceremony held this afternoon.

Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi began reciting poetry when she was 15 and soon started writing poems herself on a variety of subjects including wisdom, patriotism and love. Most of her poems are written in classical Arabic and draw on her surroundings and the local environment.

Al Suwaidi gained recognition from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who commended her for her work in highlighting the Emirates and the local language through her poems. Later in her career, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum conducted a series of poetry recitals with her and Dr. Rafia Ghubash’s Women’s Museum has an entire floor dedicated to her work. Her most famous national poem and the very last poem written by her are also stored in the museum.

The Personality of the Year Award is given annually ‘in recognition of a major contribution toward fostering literacy, education and love of literature in all its forms.’  Last year it was awarded to Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat publishing house. The award was previously given to HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, Chairman of Emirates Airline and leading businessman and humanitarian, Juma Al Majid.

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