Dubai: UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has officially designated 2025 as the year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Emirati poet Sultan bin Ali Al Owais, who was born in 1925.
The decision was made following a thorough review of Sultan bin Ali Al Owais’ achievements, presented by the National Committee of the UAE for Education, Culture, and Science, during the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference.
The move to commemorate Sultan bin Ali Al Owais’ centenary comes as part of UNESCO’s commitment to honouring cultural icons worldwide who have made significant contributions in various fields of thought, knowledge, and science.
The Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Foundation had prepared an extensive dossier on the late poet, which was submitted to UNESCO. The UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science supported the initiative, which has now culminated in the official adoption of the year 2025 as the centenary celebration of Sultan Al Owais.
The Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation expressed its gratitude to the Ministry of Culture and Youth, as well as the exceptional efforts of the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science.
Upon learning of UNESCO’s decision, the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation has taken necessary steps for this momentous occasion with a comprehensive cultural programme to be launched in early 2025. The programme will feature a variety of initiatives, including art exhibitions, documentaries, illustrated books, postage stamps, commemorative coins, and other activities that pay homage to the significant role of Emirati poetry in local and Arab culture.
Sultan bin Ali Al Owais is widely regarded as a pioneer of the renaissance in the UAE, contributing significantly to its economic, social, and cultural aspects. Born in the town of Al Hira in Sharjah in 1925, he received his early education there. His family engaged in pearl trading, with his father, Ali bin Abdullah Al Owais, being a skilled pearl trader. Sultan Al Owais followed in his father’s footsteps, involved in the pearl trade while also venturing into various other businesses, traveling between India and the UAE.
Sultan bin Ali Al Owais embarked on his poetic journey in 1947, with his first poem published in 1970. He is celebrated for the profound emotional depth of his poetry, even though he began organising his work later in life. He holds a distinguished place among poets in the UAE and served as a bridge between generations of writers and poets. He is a prominent figure in the Gulf’s poetry scene, and his work resonates with people from diverse backgrounds. One of his renowned works is “Mirrors of the Gulf,” published in Beirut in 1985, and he compiled a Diwan (a collection of poems) titled “Diwan Sultan Al Owais: The Complete Collection 1993.”
Sultan Al Owais’ contributions to literature have been extensively studied and analysed by critics and scholars. These studies have been compiled in a book published by the Emirates Writers Union titled “Sultan Al Owais: A Merchant Who Loved Poetry.”