Saeed Rashed AlMheiri is a four-year-old whose radiant smile shows a missing tooth. This Emirati boy from Al Ain took the publishing world by storm when he set a Guinness Book Record for the youngest male to publish a book. His book The Elephant Saeed and the Bear, published on March 9, 2023, sold more than 1,000 copies.
This FS2 pupil from Al Ain Academy is excited to talk about the book he wrote and illustrated. ‘The story is about an elephant named Saeed who goes on a picnic to the mountain. There he meets a bear who wants to eat him. However, Elephant Saeed invites him to share his picnic and soon they become friends.’ The story may be a simple one, but the moral it teaches is valuable- of sharing, friendship and more. His book highlights several other values including encouraging children to be kind.
Books may be Saeed’s best friend, but he also enjoys robotics and learning to solve number problems. ‘I want to be a scientist,’ he says.
Saeed is not the only Guinness Record holder in the family. His sister, AlDhabi Rashed AlMheiri was 8 when she wrote her way into record books becoming the world’s youngest female author to publish a bilingual book. This grade 4 student also from Al Ain Academy, wrote a book titled I have an Idea, in both English and Arabic.
An entrepreneur of sorts, she has also founded Rainbow Chimney Bookshop and Publishing House, an online platform that publishes books for children up to the age of 13 years, including children of determination, autism and those who are visually challenged.
The name of her entrepreneurial venture is inspired from her favourite book series Mary Poppins featuring a magical nanny who spreads happiness in the lives of children. ‘I love the song Chim Chimney by Mary Poppins,’ explains the child who is ever ready to help her brother. ‘If he wants help to answer, I will help him. If he wants to write a story, I will encourage him.’
Both Saeed and AlDhabi’s books were published exactly the way they wrote it – without edits. And they themselves illustrated their books. ‘My mother helped me get the illustrations right,’ explains Saeed, pointing out to Elephant Saeed, the protagonist in his first book.
AlDhabi has also launched a unique initiative titled ‘Books from Children to Children’ that aims to encourage children from 4-10 years to write either in Arabic or in English. ‘The writers, illustrators and readers are all children,’ she says.
The books will be published exactly as the are written and illustrated by the kid authors, without edits.
To date, 19 books have been published by their publishing house of which 16 books were shortlisted to be showcased at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2023.
‘I am very excited that the young authors will sign their books at the AbuDhabi International Book Fair,’ says AlDhabi.
Their mother, Mouza AlDarmaki, is the force behind her children’s love for the written word. A homemaker, she believes that learning is not restricted by age and that one can learn something new at any age. ‘Change comes only with learning. I try my best to read more, join courses online and talk with specialists to educate myself about early childhood,’ says the proud mum whose eagerness to understand the potential of little children led her to getting a diploma on early childhood learning and autism.
Mouza began reading for AlDhabi when her daughter was just six months old. ‘Initially I was not sure if I was doing the right thing, but I noticed that my first born responded to the books I read out to her with enthusiasm,’ quips the proud mother of four.
The children attend school and take coding and arithmetic classes. When they are not studying or engaged in writing or working on helping children publish books, they enjoy playing with cousins and friends.
Saeed and AlDhabi were recently featured at the Human Rights Conference in Geneva as children of the Emirates on the sidelines of the United Arab Emirates’ session for the Periodic Review of Human Rights at the UN Palace in Geneva.
Saeed is ready with his new book – My True Friend, that will be the second book in the Elephant Saeed and Bear series that will earn him a new Guinness World Record – The Youngest Person to Publish a Book Series.
AlDhabi is working on a book that combines traditional and digital learning with the use of augmented reality and QR codes.
The book has explanations along with QR codes that when scanned with a mobile phone opens up a video that will help children, including children with learning difficulties, understand better.