To celebrate Emirati Women’s Day, we are shining a light on the wonderful female speakers and authors from the UAE that have attended the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in the past few years. Here are twelve of some of the most inspiring Emirati women:
Dr. Rafia Ghobash
The founder of Dubai’s Women’s Museum and a high-achieving leader among Arab women, Dr Rafia Ghubash was the first Emirati psychiatrist & first Emirati woman to receive a professorship in psychiatry. She is the first female president of a regional university: Gulf Arab University in Bahrain for eight years and has published books documenting UAE heritage and history, and Nabataean poetry in the UAE. Dr Ghubash has made countless contributions to intellectual and scientific conferences in the Gulf and the world.
Afra Atiq is an Emirati award-winning poet. Afra has been featured across the globe and has held workshops with Untitled Chapters, giving back to the community. She’s been published in the International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences and conducted social research involving literature and education. She has been featured at schools and universities as well as TEDxFujairah, NYUAD Arts Centre and was named the Best Performer and has won multiple poetry slams. She won the 2017 ADMAF creativity award, making her the first spoken word poet to win the award.
Reem Al Kamali
Reem Al Kamali is an Emirati journalist and author. Her book, Saltanat Hurmoz, won the 2015 Al Owais Creativity Award and is a member of the Journalists’ Association of the UAE and the Emirates Writers Union. She has participated in numerous book fairs and festivals around the world, including in Kuwait, Tunisia and Casablanca.
Roudha Al Marri
Roudha Al Marri is a modern Emirati who lives to travel the world. A master’s degree-holder in Finance and Operation Management, she left the corporate world more than a decade ago. In her first book, “UAE 101 – Stories and Cultural Learnings,” the Dubai born and raised author places the UAE centre stage. She co-authored the barrier-breaking book with Italian Illaria Caielli and takes readers on a tour of the multi-cultural nation that people from all walks of life call home, a huge haul of anectodes and cultural tips to help make the UAE even more united.
Nujoom Al Ghanem
Nujoom Alghanem is an Emirati poet, scriptwriter and multi- award-winning film director. She has produced eleven films including five short fiction films and six feature length documentaries. Her last four documentaries have won several local, regional and international prizes. She was born in Dubai in 1962 and graduated with an MA in Media Production from the School of Film, Griffith University in Australia in 1999. Alghanem started her professional career in 1980 when she worked as a journalist for more than ten years. An active and well-established writer and filmmaker in the Arab world, she recently became a board member of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Alghanem’s feature documentary Nearby Sky won Best Non-Fiction Film at the Eleventh Dubai International Film Festival. She also received the Best Emirati Female Filmmaker Award at the Fifth Dubai International Film Festival for Al Mureed.
Dubai Abulhoul Alfalasi is the author of Galagolia: The Hidden Divination, the first Emirati fantasy novel in English. She was named “Young Arab of the Year” in 2016 at the first Young Arab Awards for her work in youth advocacy, literature, and journalism. Abulhoul is also a columnist for several UAE newspapers, writing on issues related to youth, education, culture and literature. She is currently writing a series of children’s books on Emirati folklore and djinn, with four published so far.
Maitha Al Khayat
Maitha Al Khayat is a member of a new breed of superheroes. The mother of five is one of the UAE’s most prolific Emirati children’s illustrators and writers. She is a Board Member at the UAE Board of Books for Young People – IBBY, and an ambassador of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. In less than 10 years, Al Khayat has published more than 160 books. Her popular book My Own Special Way received an award for best book in the Children’s Forum, Riyadh (2011). Maitha’s picture book Turn off the Lights was also awarded best picture book at the Publishers’ Forum, Sharjah (2016). She writes for children’s TV shows, including the newly relaunched Arabic version of Sesame Street and the Emirati cartoon series Hamdoon. Recently she has published her first Young Adult novel Tofan.
Amna Al Mansouri
Amna Al Mansouri is the Emirati author of the bestselling novel Your Eyes Hamda. She has also written screenplays for the popular cartoon series Freej. She is currently employed as CEO of Happiness and Positivity at Higher Colleges of Technology.
Eman Al Yousuf
Eman Al Yousuf is a Chemical Engineer and a certified coach in Graphology. Al Yousuf is also an Emirati writer and has published two short story books, Wijooh Insan and Ta’er Fi Haowth Alasmak, and two novels, Al Nafitha Allati Absarat and Haris Alshams (Guard of the Sun), the latter of which won first prize at the Emirates Novel Awards in 2016. She has published a book of literary interviews with Emirati writers, Khubz O Hibir. She writes a weekly column in both Al Roeya and Al Bayan newspapers.
Eman Talal Alsayed
Eman Talal Alsayed’s student film The Choice was nominated for best Emirati short film at the Dubai International Film Festival. She is currently working on her second film Blanket, which won best script at the Dubai International Film Festival as part of the AFS script-writing program with Image Nation Abu Dhabi. Alsayed is a graduate of Zayed University Abu Dhabi, majoring in Communication and Media Sciences, with a specialisation in Film Making. She has a Minor Degree in Literature.
Born in 1990, Maryam Alzaabi is an Emirati graduate of Architecture and is an artist and illustrator. With a passion for design and art and everything in between, Alzaabi spends most of her days drawing and creating with her hands, using any tools or materials she likes to experiment and explore with. Alzaabi draws inspiration from music, pop culture, fashion, comic books, graphic novels and artists from all over the world, constantly trying to expose herself to different styles and approaches to art. By constantly experimenting with new and differing elements, Alzaabi refines her artwork and sense of style on a regular basis.
Dana Al Balooshi
Dana is the youngest Emirati to train with NASA and is involved in programmes in the fields of aeronautics and space administration at NASA in the United States. Dana underwent advanced practical training in space science (live and simulation training) and rocket design, programming, and launch. Her rocket design impressed the officials in Huntsville, as did her design for a space robot. She recently published her debut book “13 Amazing Women of Arabia” in which she pays tribute to 13 inspiring women from fields as diverse as science, government, fashion, business, sports and more.