Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

17 Emirati Women You Need To Know About

By: Emirates Literature Foundation

In celebration of Emirati Women’s Day, we’re giving a shoutout to all the wonderful speakers and authors that have attended the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in the past few years. Here are seventeen of the 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. She is also a member of numerous professional associations and academic institutions in the Gulf region and around the world.

Afra Atiq

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. 

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

Dubai Abulhoul Alfalasi is the author of Galagolia, 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. 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; some translated into English and Turkish, and used in curriculums at schools around the country. Her popular book My Own Special Way received an award for best book in the Children’s Forum, Riyadh (2011) and was nominated for best translated book at the Marsh Awards, UK (2013). Maitha’s picture book Turn off the Lights was also awarded best picture book at the Publishers’ Forum, Sharjah (2016). Al Khayat 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.

Maryam Alzaabi

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.

Salha Obied

An Emirati author of several short story collections including The Postman of Happiness and The Hidden White Thread, which won the 2015 Al Owais Creativity Award for best fiction. She also won the Short Stories Award from the Cultural Office of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in 2012, and the Italian/Emirati Cultural Exchange competition in 2013. She writes a weekly column for Al Roeya. She published her historical fiction novel It Might Be a Joke in 2018.

Dr Alamira Reem Bani Hashim

An Emirati architect, urban planning, design and development specialist, and author of Planning Abu Dhabi: An Urban History, the first urban history book to explore and document the course of Abu Dhabi’s urban planning. She has published numerous pieces in reputed academic books and journals. She regularly shares her expertise on UAE urbanism, place branding and urban design at industry forums, conferences and universities around the world. In her current role, she is the project manager of the UAE Architecture Initiative, aiming to advance architectural and planning knowledge in the UAE.

Amel Alali       

Emirati writer, journalist and international body language trainer Amel Alali holds a Master’s in arts in diplomacy from the American University in the UAE. Amel acts as Director of the Organizational Excellence Branch at the Airports Sector at the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship in Dubai, and Associate Professor of Protocol and Diplomatic Etiquette at City University College of Ajman. Amel’s book Dwaniha Bdhka’ aims to provide individuals with effective institutional communication skills and ways to write successful reports that present facts and data to help make administrative decisions. 

Maryam Al Balooshi

An Emirati writer and a columnist for Al Khaleej newspapers since 2013. She has published five books so far, most recently Live with ALLAH, plus her I Didn’t Lose book series, which is built on real-life situations and activities during the journey of study and work. She was the first Arab expert in the field of Aviation Environment (2006), and a State lead negotiator for Aviation Climate Change and Environment since 2011. She has earned many awards such as the Middle East Leadership of Excellence – Leader in Aviation from the American Association of leaders endorsed by the GCC Economic Chamber 2015. In 2019, she was selected by the US State Department to represent the UAE in the “International leadership visitor programme (Women empowerment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Art)”. 

Maryam Al Serkal 

An Emirati poet and children’s book author. She started out her life with an extreme and unstoppable love for words and a knack for rhyming. Following her passion for writing led her to the study of journalism and a career in public relations. Maryam lives in Dubai with her husband and two children. Her debut children’s book, Mira’s Curly Hair, a story inspired by her daughter Mira, was published in 2019 by Lantana Publishing.

Shamma Al Bastaki

Award-winningEmirati poet and artist was the winner of the 2019 ADMAF Creativity Award for her ethno-poetry collection House to House |بيت لبيت’, excerpted in the Asymptote Journal of Global Contemporary Literature, and taught in universities and schools across Japan, Taiwan, and the US. As a poet, she has been commissioned by Louvre Abu Dhabi, the UAE Minister of Tolerance, and had a special feature on CNN. She performs in local and international platforms and serves on the curatorial committee of Hekayah. Shamma is a founding member of Untitled Chapters, a literary group for women writers, and an inaugural member of the Cultural Office Women’s Creative Network launched by HH Sheikha Manal Bint Monammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum. She recently joined Qasr Al Hosn – DCT.