Ayesha Al Naqbi signing a copy of her second book at the Kuttab Publishing pavilion during the Abu Dhabi Book Fair. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: With Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) in full swing at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), prominent figures including renowned writers, artists and publishers from around the world can be seen roving the events grounds, taking part in seminars, workshops, signings, or cultural activities.

However, one participant in particular is turning heads at the event despite being fairly new to the world of publishing and that is 14-year-old Emirati writer Ayesha Al Naqbi, who released her second book, Emerald Planet, at this year’s fair.

“It’s a dream come true. Bringing out the first book was something that I never thought I was able to do, so to have the sequel now just feels really amazing,” Al Naqbi told Gulf News.

“The first book ended with a cliffhanger so that provoked me even more to write the second part,” she said.

The ferocious reader, who owns around 250 books, seemed over the moon to be at the fair, not just because she was introducing her new book to the public but because she was going to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books, other writers and readers for seven days.

“I am in heaven. My dream is to live in a house that looks like this fair … a book in every corner. It is really great to be here and meet other like-minded people who have the same interests,” she said.

Her Emerald Planet, a fantasy science fiction, adventure and magical realism book, follows the same cast as the Blue Moon including the main character, Prim, a teenage hacker, through another adventure where they try to come to terms with their past while trying to make sense of their future.

Al Naqbi’s own adventure as a writer began when she was only 11 in a coffee shop in the capital’s Yas Mall, when she started to note and develop a plot for a story.

She then spent close to two years educating herself on how to plan and write books, in between her school hours and demanding homework. She finished the book at the end of 2015, aged just 13.

However, finding a publisher who would take her on board proved to be a challenge at the time for two main reasons — her age and the fact that the book was in English. Many people questioned its authenticity as they wondered whether the teenager could really write over 60,000 words in such a well-structured manner.

Finally a UAE-based publisher, Kuttab Publishing, decided to take a chance on Al Naqbi and Blue Moon was released at the 2016 ADIBF. Second time round, the process was much easier as Kuttab Publishing, satisfied with Al Naqbi’s commitment and talent, signed her on again. “She is an Emirati youth and it is our mission to promote young Emirati talent. That’s why we took Ayesha on board and we plan to publish as many titles coming from her as possible in the future,” a Kuttab Publishing spokesperson told Gulf News.

“She is a very dynamic writer and can really connect with readers. It is really hard to believe the books are written by a teenager. She is a true prodigy,” the spokesperson added.

Al Naqbi said she has already planned the plot of a third book and cannot wait to start writing it. However, for the time being, she is going to enjoy being at the ADIBF.

You can find the inspiring teenager signing her book and eagerly meeting readers at the Kuttab Publishing stall 11H06, generally after 5pm when she is finished with school.


What: Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF)

Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec)

When: April 26 to May 2, daily 9am to 10pm, except Friday when it is 4pm to 10pm

Cost: Free entry