Her Highness Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza AlNahyan has become an acclaimed author since her literary journey began in 2015. As the granddaughter of the late HH Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, she has always been inspired by her heritage and culture and wanted to find a way to channel this through her passion for writing. It was her mission to write novels that pay tribute to the Emirati culture and heritage as she noticed there weren’t enough stories and representation of the UAE in the literary world. She wanted to share some of the stories of the UAE and shed light on the culture of the country in a modern way.
After writing her first novel The Invisible Orphans in 2015, HH Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza Al Nahyan’s next four books came with ease, and by 2019, the 21-year-old writer had published five books. Her latest The Horse, The Saluki, & The Falcon is a collection of quotes that pay homage to the UAE, taking celebrated animals from the Emirati culture and turning them into icons of wisdom that impart lessons of empathy, love, and kindness. The book will embark on a promotional campaign which will be launched as part of the upcoming Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) in November. Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad AlQasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah, and under the flagship of Sharjah Book Authority, the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is an annual international event that exhibits and promotes the work of acclaimed Arabic and International authors. With her participation in this year’s event, HH Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza Al Nahyan hopes to further support Its goal in promoting reading as a habit among the younger generation while instilling the love of literature among the people of the region. Here we find out more about her journey as an author and her vision of spreading the message of Emirati culture to the world.
Why did you decide to participate in this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair?
My goal with my work and literature is to raise awareness around our cultural heritage through a series of children’s books and to have people around the world know more about our history and culture. That is why I have displayed my work in numerous reputable book fairs and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to display my books at the Sharjah International Book Fair as it is one of the most prominent book fairs in the region.
Why do you think such platforms are important in the UAE and how do you think they are helpful in sharing and supporting local talent?
The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the Sharjah International Book Fair hold a prominent place in the literary industry and are notable book fairs in around the world. Taking part and participating in these events are a great way to introduce and support local talent as they host renowned authors and publishers in addition to being a great way for authors to get their work out there and noticed by industry professionals.
Tell us about your book; “The Horse, The Saluki & The Falcon” – what inspired it and what is the message you are sharing with it?
“The Horse, The Saluki & The Falcon” is a book of quotes about life and humanity. The main inspiration behind the book was The Boy, The Mole, The Fox by Charlie Mackesy. Charlie’s work inspired me to create my own book of quotes using the UAE’s most treasured animals.
The animals featured in the book were chosen based on their characteristics and the way they resemble humans. The horse represents beauty and power, while the Saluki on the other hand, symbolizes intelligence, speed and loyalty, and the Falcon signifies alertness and attentiveness. Each quote depends on the animal’s personality if they could speak to humans, and what message it could give out.
In many ways, these animals helped our ancestors survive many environmental challenges. The horse, for instance, helped with hunting and transportation, while the falcon and the saluki made access to food easier. Falcon hunting and saluki racing are still used today as a tradition passed down from our ancestors. It reminds us that surviving such a harsh environment was only possible because of these species.
How does your heritage inspire you in what you do today?
I am deeply passionate about my Emirati culture and it was very important to me to incorporate our heritage when writing my books and more specifically this book. I noticed that there aren’t many children’s books that are embedded with our culture and heritage, which was why I was adamant about creating a story that was not only educational but also traditional and celebrates our country.
What first made you want to become an author?
Writing came to me as a coincidence, but I think what led to me becoming an author is that since I was a child, I’ve always loved reading, and I’ve always loved the stories shared by my parents and the older generation who share stories and myths of their past. I know that some writers who started at a young age and others who began later in life and I’m sure everyone is different, but I believe that sometimes your passion might come knocking at your door and other times you open that door before it nudges you and tells you I’m here.
What is a message or piece of advice that you would give to young aspiring authors in the Emirates?
Never give up. To start your literary journey, you need to have consistency and drive so that you can become a successful writer. As an author, I found that continuous editing and revising your work is crucial when it comes to writing a book. The more you read it the more mistakes you notice and you become inspired with new material that can elevate your book even more.
What is the message about Emirati culture that you want to share with the world through your work?
Tolerance, coexistence and generosity. We are all humans and we should strive to do better and be better for ourselves and for others.
What is it about writing children’s books that motivates you?
Writing children’s books wasn’t something I planned, I just let the process of unfolding a story take its course and saw where it went. I usually have a few ideas and then I choose what resonates with me the most and from there, I start writing my piece.
In August we celebrate Emirati Women’s Day. What does this day mean to you?
It’s a day that I hold dearly in my heart. I believe that women need to be honoured and recognised for all the work and successes they have achieved, and that is for all women; mothers, the female workforce, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, granddaughters, everyone.
How would you assess the journey of Emirati women so far in terms of their achievements?
Women in the UAE have come a long way in the past fifty years. They are natural multi-taskers and no challenge is too difficult to face. Especially when juggling work, social life and personal life. Time and time again we have proven nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I would say, setting my priorities straight. Whether it’s my work, my passions or my personal life, and achieving something in each of them, one step at a time.
What is something you would still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
Editing and polishing my upcoming short story which is targeted at an older age group. That’s my next goal and my passion.
What is your personal motto?
I have three mottos I repeat to myself constantly:
– Never give up.
– Do as best you can.
– Improve, evolve and learn. It’s an infinite process, we are always learning.
Who is a woman that inspires you?
A lot of women inspire me, it’s difficult to choose just one. But as a writer, I would say the Brönte sisters, especially Emily. She is someone who truly spoke to me. She was writing at a time when women didn’t get their books published, so she used a male pen name and an unconventional poetic style. She thought outside the box and that inspires me.
Later this year the UAE will celebrate its 50th anniversary – what is a message that you would send to your country on this occasion?
I’m proud of how far we have come in just fifty years as a country. Our history is something to be proud of and our present is something to be proud of as well, and so is our future.