Sheikha Salama showcases Emirati culture through her books
Acclaimed Emirati children’s author, Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza Al Nahyan, has not only set out to promote education for children across the UAE, but succinctly presents the Emirati heritage through her five children’s novels.
Inspired by the legacy of her late grandfather, His Highness Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sheikha Salama is determined to leave an indelible mark not only as an author, but even through her impactful recent initiatives in the fields of art, culture and heritage and beginnings. childhood development.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej timesshe opens up about her love for her beloved country through her writing, while shedding light on the UAE’s deep heritage, to build a better future.
Sheikha Salama, who began her writing journey at the age of 21, recalls her parents’ crucial role in motivating her, as the literary world gradually became rewarding and nuanced for her.
She recalls: “When I was a child, my parents had a foundation that promoted reading, art and the education of children. The foundation shared stories written by locals and the artwork was also done by them. At the end of the year, a prize was awarded to the best authors and illustrators. Many children have read these books, even as a child I read them, they were rich in Arab history, culture and moral and positive values. I remember going to these events and meeting great authors and illustrators. I think all of this influenced me in one way or another.
The talented author made her debut as a writer in 2019 with her first book The Invisible Orphans.
Since then, through her writings, Sheikha Salama has been a tireless advocate for literacy and education for children, persevering in defining the values that she believes must be instilled in young minds at an early stage to promote a prosperous future.
“In children’s books, I like to emphasize morals and positive values. For example, in Invisible Orphans, the children became invisible because they didn’t listen to what the old people asked them to do. They did something they shouldn’t have done and in the end they found out that by helping to build houses for people they become visible again. Therefore, each story focuses on different but similar values,” adds Sheikha Salama whose early work was about loss, sacrifice, courage and unconditional love.
The renowned author has also published four other books namely A Play on Child Rights, The Well of Mysteries, Umm Al Nar and The Horse, The Saluki and The Falcon.
Additionally, striving to contribute to the education system in the UAE, Sheikha Salama has also partnered with various schools across the UAE, including Bright Learners Private School and Star Education, to further promote the importance of reading.
“Children are the next generation. If we want a better future, it starts in our homes and with our children. This subject is close to my heart because every child carries innocence within him. Their childhood shapes them in the long term and so does their future children and society as a whole. They have the right to be children, to play, to learn, to be supported, to be loved and listened to. These are the qualities that I tried to highlight in a play on the rights of the child,” she repeats.
She felt the ripple effects of her writing when a young Emirati wrote to her, forcing her to realize that each dark scenario illustrated the role of history in changing a system.
“A memory that I will always hold close to my heart is when I received a letter from a local girl saying that she loves to read books. She read Umm Al Nar and saw the sad wounded deer in the story. One day, at school, she learns that the Arabian oryx is on the verge of extinction. She now wants to raise awareness about this topic by writing stories about them and helping save them as they are beautiful creatures. That day I realized how stories not only change lives, but also help influence or awaken a part of you that you were never aware of,” she says.
Further adding to her vision, Sheikha Salama has also partnered with various schools across the UAE including Bright Learners Private School and Star Education to further promote the importance of reading.
The author highlights how entering into the lived experiences of others through books can help us develop empathy.
“When you read a story, there are many characters with different personalities, perspectives and varying lifestyles. The more the story unfolds, the more you understand why they are the way they are. Even the villain in a book doesn’t just become a villain because he decided to wake up one day and become a villain, there’s always something that triggered him.
She explains that reading can increase “perspective taking,” which is a skill necessary for empathy. It makes us think deeply about our own lives and teaches us things beyond our personal experiences.
“When you read, it takes not only empathy to understand someone’s background, but also patience and understanding. Reading activates the imagination. When you read, your mind imagines certain places, scenarios, or what someone is like. It trains the mind to imagine, and imagination is very important. It inspires a person to think outside the box,” added Sheikha Salama.
This year, the seasoned writer plans to begin writing her latest novel, while continuing to participate in meaningful initiatives that build a culture of reading, such as book fairs in the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah that aim to promote children’s literacy in the country. .
Commenting on the need to extend the joy of reading and learning to children, as parents strive to keep the current generation away from screens, she says: “Having a schedule throughout the week with different activities, physical, mental and spiritual is imperative. . It is very important for a child to try different things so that as he grows up he can restrict his passions and hobbies. It shapes their future.”
“Games and TV should be a healthy boundary for a child, they shouldn’t be banned or they’ll feel left out of what other kids like to do, but it’s important to set a healthy boundary,” he said. -she adds.
The multiple reading initiatives in the country contribute to improving the rate of literacy, creative and analytical thinking, and broadening one’s horizons on a personal and professional level.
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