x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Adach gets works of Emirati poet

The Poetry Academy signs a deal with the family of the Emirati poet Hamad Khalifa Bou Shihab for all of his works, including unpublished material.

ABU DHABI // Bolstering its collection of "timeless works", The Poetry Academy signed a deal yesterday with the family of the Emirati poet Hamad Khalifa Bou Shihab for all of his works, including unpublished material. Sultan al Amimi, the director of the academy, which is part of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), said the agreement was part of a larger initiative to promote both Nabati and classical poetry. The collection documents Emirati poets whose compositions reflect "what is beautiful and touching in our lives", he said.

"The preservation of the heritage of great poets such as Bou Shihab is an endeavour to revive the interest in this tradition that Arabs identified long ago as the pillar of their literature," Mr al Amimi said. Bou Shihab was born in 1932 in Ajman and began writing poetry at age nine. He first became famous for his stylish handwriting and his ability to memorise the poetry of his predecessors, such as Rashid bin Thani al Matrooshi and Rashid al Khoder.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Bou Shihab travelled between the Socotra and Saudi Arabia working as a writer of petitions and application forms. When he returned to the UAE at the beginning of the 1970s he began writing his own poetry. In his later life he was the first to bring poetry into the modern media; he presented a popular poetry programme on Dubai Television and had his own page in Al Bayan newspaper dedicated to poetry and literature.

After he died in August 2002, his family retained the intellectual property and copyrights of his works. In being signed over to Adach yesterday, the works will be published in 14 anthologies, a historical text, and a literary study of Arabic poetry. Also to be published is a previously unseen memoir. Speaking at yesterday's signing, his son Ahmed bin Hamad Bou Shihab said he was "honoured". "I would like to thank Adach and The Poetry Academy for their interest in our father's work and for everything they will publish," he said.

Mr al Amimi said printing will begin this year and the volumes will be distributed over the next 10 years. "This is a long-term project, and every year we will release a different batch of books," he said. "We want the rest of the world to know that the UAE is no less important than anywhere else in terms of culture, and we want to make sure we give our Emirati poets the attention they deserve." aseaman@thenational.ae