Reading sessions, folk music and cultural workshops formed the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY)’s celebration of ‘Hag Allaila,’ conductedduring the weekendin collaboration with Maktaba -An imprint of Kalimat Group - and Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. The literary organisation used the Islamic festive event that coincides with the night of mid-Sha’ban to instil a love of Emirati tradition in children and endear them to heritage-related Arab values, particularly those from the Gulf region.
UAEBBY’s activity at Maktaba in Al Qasba included a reading session in which author Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY Executive Board, recited from her book Ahmed El Helo’ (‘Adorable Ahmad’). The delightful story took the gathered children into a journey of heritage and culture by way of traditional Emirati folk music and songs. Author, conceptual artist and researcher in Emirati heritage, Mariam Al Mazroui, also read a number of folk tales known in Emirati tradition as ‘Kharareef’ to the children. Adding to the storytelling was a Burka (veil) creation workshop utilising dolls, which revealed how the garment can be fashioned in a simple way using traditional tools found in every Emirati house.
The UAEBBYHag Allailainitiative at Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services saw a reading session being conducted to children with hearing impairment. During the activity, Emirati author Alia Al Shamsinarrated her book ‘Alayah’with the help of a group of sign language experts who interpreted for the gathered children.Afterwards, a drawing workshop was held in which the youngsters illustrated the story told by Alia Al Shamsi using their own imagination and creative abilities.
Commenting on UAEBBY’s Hag Allailaactivities, Marwa AlAqroubi, President of the UAEBBY Executive Board, said; “UAEBBY is always keen to celebrate this annual tradition as it is the perfect opportunity for us to illuminate and revere Emirati heritage. It enables us to link the present with the past and to instila love of Arab and Emirati culture within children and young adults who will be able to preserve and safeguard it in the future.”
Hag Allailais one of the most important Emirati traditions and is celebrated just ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan. The festivities see children roaming the streets wearing traditional clothes and carrying bags called ‘Kharayet’, which are sewn especially for this occasion to keep candies and nuts that they collect from their neighbours. At the end of the day, the children gather and see who has been able to collect the most treats, praising the neighbours who have been most generous.
UAEBBY is the national branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Launched in 2010 by SheikhaBodour bint Sultan al Qasimi, Founder and Honorary President of UAEBBY, the initiative aims to encourage the publishing and distribution of high quality Arabic children books across the country. It also aspires to provide professional and amateur authors and illustrators, as well as UAE-based publishing houses, with opportunities to intercommunicate, exchange experiences and build capabilities. IBBY - the main Board founded in Switzerland in 1953 -is an international network of institutions and individuals who are committed to promoting a culture of reading and instilling the love of books in every child.