Ousha al Suwaidi – Legendary Fatat Al-Arab poetical career
Ousha Al Suwaidi was known as Fatat Al-Arab (Girl of the Arabs).
By: Arshad Farooq Butt
The Arabs possessed a remarkable memory and were an eloquent people. Their eloquence and memory found expression in their poetry.
Every year a fair was held for poetical competitions at Ukaz. It is narrated that Hammad said to Caliph Walid bin Yazid.
I can recite to you, for each letter of the alphabet, one hundred long poems, without taking into account short pieces.
It is no small wonder that Ousha Al Suwaidy belongs to that wonderful lands. Let’s talk about her early life, career and achievements.
Ousha Al Suwaidi Early Life
Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi was born in 1920 into a poetry and literature loving family. Her native land was Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. She was known as Fatat Al-Arab (Girl of the Arabs).
Ousha the poet spent most of her life in Al Ain and in the late 1980 she migrated to Dubai for her poetical career. She also spend about 15 years in Qatar in her young age.
She had a chance to meet many poets and listen to their poetry in her young age. So she had developed poetical taste in her early age.
Ousha Al Suwaidi poetical career
When Ousha was only 15, she secured recognition from the poetry community. It was awarded for poetry recitals.
It was really a great achievement because at that time poetry was completely male dominated and women had less opportunities to appear in front of audience.
Soon Ousha started writing many poems inspired by the then classical posts as Abu Tammam, Al Mutannabi and Al Ma’ari, and local Nabati poets including Rashid Al Khalawi, Al Majidi bin Thahir, Saleem bin Abdul Hai, and Mohsin Hazzani.
The poems of Fatat Al Arab were published in several newspapers, magazines, audio recordings, and poetry collections over the years.
Her first book was published in 1990 by the poet Hamad Bin Khalifa Bou Shehab. The second edition of the book was released in the year 2000.
Themes and Style of Ousha Al Suwaidi Poems
Since Ousha was inspired by the classical poets, she wrote most of her poetry in classical Arabic. Her poetry covers a variety of themes including love, wisdom, nostalgia, praise, and patriotic sentiments.
The vocabulary and style of Ousha poetry was inspired by the environment in which she lived. She often recalls intimate images of the United Arab Emirate’s local land and sea and the country’s past and present.
The most important poem of Ousha Al Suwaidi was written in praise of Prophet Mohammed (PUBH). In Urdu language it is called a Naat.
She was also known for her lyrical poetry. A large number of her poems are sung by popular Emirati and Arab artists.
Achievements and Awards of Ousha Al Swaidi
In the beginning, Ousha was given the nickname “Fatat Al Khaleej” (Girl of the Gulf). His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum dedicated a poem from his first published collection to Ousha and gave her the sobriquet “Fatat Al Arab” (Girl of the Arabs), replacing her original nickname “Fatat Al Khaleej”. She achieved this milestone in 1989.
At the occasion of 11th Sharjah Festival of Classic Poetry, she was awarded in 2010. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan presented her Abu Dhabi Award.
An annual award for female Emirati poets was established in her name in 2011. Later on a section of the Women’s Museum in Dubai was dedicated in her honor.
Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) awarded her in 2019 and made her an influential and inspirational figure in Arab literary culture.
Death of Ousha Al Suwaidi
Ousha Al Suwaidi passed away in 2018 at the ripe age of 98. UAE lost a great symbol of literature, wisdom and poetry.