Biography

Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi
“Girl of the Arabs”

 

Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi also known as Fatat Al-Arab (Girl of the Arabs), was born in Al Ain (United Arab Emirates, Emirate of Abu Dhabi) in 1920 into a literature and poetry loving family. Except for a fifteen year period spent in Qatar, she lived most of her life in Al Ain, moving to Dubai in the late 1980s. 

As a young girl, Ousha had the opportunity to meet many poets and listen to their poetry. Aged only 15, she received recognition from the poetry community for her poetry recitals - a noteworthy achievement considering that poetry at the time was very male dominated. 

Influenced by classical poets such as Al Mutannabi, Abu Tammam, and Al Ma'ari, and local Nabati poets including Al Majidi bin Thahir, Rashid Al Khalawi, Saleem bin Abdul Hai, and Mohsin Hazzani, Ousha started writing many poems in a short space of time. 

Ousha rose to become a prominent cultural figure and was given the nickname "Fatat Al Khaleej" (Girl of the Gulf). Her poetry, written in classical Arabic, covered a variety of themes including love, wisdom, nostalgia, praise, and patriotic sentiments. Her vocabulary and style drew heavily on the environment in which she lived, recalling intimate images of the United Arab Emirate's local land and sea and the country's past and present. Her most important poem was written in praise of Prophet Mohammed (PUBH). 

She is regarded as one of the finest Arabic Nabati poets with a large number of her poems sung by popular Emirati and Arab artists. Her work has been influential in the development of Nabati poetry in the UAE, particularly among young female poets. Thanks to Ousha's encouragement, the poetic voice of women became strong and essential to the cultural scene across the Emirates. 

In 1989, following Ousha's participation in a series of poetry recitals with him, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai 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". 

In 2010 she was awarded at the 11th Sharjah Festival of Classic Poetry and later won the Abu Dhabi Award, presented by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. In 2011 an annual award for female Emirati poets was established in her name and a section of the Women's Museum in Dubai was dedicated in her honor. 

The late Ousha Al Suwaidi passed away in 2018 at the age of 98. 

The poems of Fatat Al Arab have been published in several newspapers, magazines, audio recordings, and poetry collections over the years. The 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. In 2011, Dr. Rafia Ghubash published the official biography of the late Ousha Bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Fatat Al Arab. In addition, the Women's Museum Dubai has dedicated a unique section to Fatat Al Arab highlighting her work, life, and achievements. 

In 2019 she was awarded the Abu Dhabi Festival Award by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) in recognition of her exceptional legacy of literary wisdom and poetic creativity that enriched the Emirati literary landscape and made her an influential and inspirational figure in Arab literary culture.


  • Our country lost a great symbol of literature, wisdom and poetry... Fatat Al Arab has left behind treasures of literature and poetry which will continue to tell her biography and she will always be remembered.

    — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

  • The UAE has lost a great literary figure who left a prominent mark in Nabati poetry. Her poems have enriched the Emirati memory with wisdom, knowledge and creativity.

    — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces

  • ... An exceptional figure with a proven track record of outstanding achievements and contributions to the local cultural scene. She is a popular contemporary poet known for her rich contents and multifaceted creativity. The cultural scene will miss a great poet.

    — HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development