22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Maitha Al Khayat

Portrait Maitha Al Khayat
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Maitha Al Khayat was born in 1979 in Ras al-Khaimah (United Arab Emirates). She spent the majority of her childhood in Great Britain and the US. She found her passion for books while in middle school in Britain. She studied business administration in Ras al-Khaimah, after which she worked for several years at the university library. After marrying and becoming a mother she began to write children’s books.

»I Love My Dad’s Long Beard« (2009) was published in Great Britain in both English and Arabic. Like her story »I Love My Mum’s Pretty Veil«, which she launched as an app, the book aims to familiarize small children, in a playful way, with the cultural concepts and history of their home country. »The idea came during a reading session and workshop I was conducting a few years back at a school. I was trying to get the children to help me write a new book and they suggested I talk about a mum and her veil. I encouraged them to draw their mummy and imagine them wearing the veil, asking them why they love it so much. Most of the opinions were that they were so proud of their culture. One child said they can count the beads on their mother’s veil. For another, it looked like a piece of art.« »Tareeqati Al Khassa« (Eng. »My Own Special Way«) was first published in 2010 in the United Arab Emirates, making it the first ever Emirati children’s book whose rights were sold to Great Britain. This story is also about the ritual of wearing of a headscarf; little Hamda must come to terms with wearing a hijab like her older sisters. The book was nominated for the 2013 Marsh Award. 2012 saw the publication of her children’s book titled »When a Camel Craves Crunchies«. The story’s rhymed text describes the journey of a little Bedouin girl and a camel through the culinary world of the United Arab Emirates. »Mom’s Amazing Socks« (2013) is about a little girl and her mother, whom, despite being cloaked in a niqab, the girl has no trouble recognizing thanks to her mom’s conspicuously patterned socks, which are different every day. In »Turn off the Lights« (2014) she tells the story of a little boy who lives on a farm. One evening, when he cannot get to sleep, he decides to go out and play with the animals. Since they are sleeping, however, he lists their names and qualities until the morning when he is finally tired enough to fall asleep – but now the animals are awake and in turn want to play with him.

Maitha Al Khayat is one of the authors in the project »Books – Made in UAE«, which is organized by the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region and the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY). In addition to children’s book, she also writes for »Iftah Ya Simsim«, the Arabic version of »Sesame Street«. She lives with her husband and five children in Ras al-Khaimah.