Abu Dhabi: The young adult genre in the local book sector is fighting for its existence due to the lack of Emirati authors who are willing to write in this challenging field, said Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, daughter of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
"Young adults are a difficult age group to write for because of the constraints that exist in our community. Some of the things that interest them may not conform to our traditions or values so that limits the types of books that can be written by Emiratis for them," Shaikha Budoor, Founder and Director of Kalimat and Chairperson of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), told Gulf News.
"As a result of that, many young UAE nationals are turning to English books…and that, in turn, leads them to write in English, which is something that we are concerned about. We need to get them out of that cycle and having workshops like this are a good platform to reach out to them," she added.
Shaikha Budoor was one of those who conducted a workshop on the challenges faced by authors writing for Emirati teenagers.
"The biggest criticism I always receive is that my books are not educational … I believe that Arabic books made for young adults and children are very serious and too preachy, which is why they are not interested in reading them," said Sarah Khalifa Al Gafli, a 17-year-old Emirati writer. The aspiring author writes young adult fantasy and supernatural novels.
"I want people to know that Emirati writers can write books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games if they get the proper support… there is an audience for those kinds of books in the Emirates because many of her friends and the people she knows are fans of books from this genre," she added.
Al Gafli noted that such workshops have given her hope.