Shaikha Saeed al Mesmari has a legion of listeners who follow her radio show that has a gentle touch and what she calls 'the best job in the world'.
She greets Fujairah's residents a good morning
FUJAIRAH // Residents who tune in to Fujairah FM 95.1 on weekdays, between 7am and 10am, are greeted with the charming soft voice and gentle laughter of the show's host, Shaikha Saeed al Mesmari.
"I try to help people start their day with a smile by telling them good news or even a joke, so that they face the challenges of the day in a good mood," said the 33-year-old Emirati, who was born in Fujairah. Al Mesmari has been working at different radio stations in Fujairah and Abu Dhabi for more than five years. "I have the best job in the world, as I can address sensitive issues and protect the responder's identity at the same time," she said with a big smile.
Although small - she stands at just over 1.54m - she more than meets the big technical and voice demands of daily work at a radio station, having studied radio and journalism at UAE University in Al Ain "I don't stress out or anything, it is like sitting with a group of friends and having a discussion," she said. For the past year, she has been the host of Nasaim al Sabah (Morning Breezes) show on Fujairah FM, based at the Fujairah Tower. She brings listeners the latest local news, weather and traffic reports, music and trivia competitions, as well as pressing social issues.
"It is always interesting to hear what are people's opinions on issues we discuss among ourselves," she said. "It really helps enrich us all with different perspectives and helps me see a situation in a different light." She tackles the big topics - marriage, divorce, love and hope - and smaller, every day moral dilemmas, such as how to react when you are given an extra bag of groceries. "I once discussed our dependence on the internet and Google for information, and whether people felt it was a good thing or a bad thing, and the declining role of reading library books," she said.
Coming from a conservative family, and being in a relatively conservative emirate, al Mesmari pays extra attention in her responses to male listeners, some of whom try to woo her over the air. They also send her flowers and declare their love for her in text messages sent to the station. "On a regular basis I get nice compliments from men about my voice," she said, "and how they would like to see who is the woman behind the voice."
It is all quite flattering, she admits, adding "and what girl doesn't appreciate flattery?". But the minute one of her five brothers and six sisters feel she might be drifting, they send her private mobile phone a warning. "They are my greatest supporters and the most critical supervisors," she said with a laugh. Besides her fans, the radio star has younger generation of Emirati women looking up to her.
"She is always cheerful and at the same time, she makes us think," said Rouqaya al Dermaki, an intern at the radio station who is learning the ropes of radio broadcasting. "She is an inspiration to us." But that is just al Mesmari's morning job. She also works at the Ruler's Court in Fujairah as head of the media department, where often she meets members of the Ruling Family as well as visitors on the way to meet them. When she was being introduced to Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi the Crown Prince, at the time of his appointment in 2007, she was touched when her boss said "while I may be small in size, I have a big role".
Now, with the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, al Mesmari is preparing a whole set of programmes addressing the religious as well as social demands of the month. "It is always hard in the first couple of days, so I will be giving my loyal listeners tips on the best ways of dealing with fasting in this kind of hot weather," she said. "I am there for my listeners. All they have to do is call or text message my show, and I will try to get them the answers to their questions."