Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi
Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi as illustrated by Abu Dhabi-based guest artist Reem Al Mazrouei for Google Doodles Image Credit: Reem Al Mazrouei/Google Doodles website

Dubai: Google's doodle celebrating history today shows an illustration that would inspire pride in UAE residents and citizens - an ode to the Emirati poet Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi. The illustration features a woman wearing a traditional Emirati battoulah face covering. 

Ousha, also known as Fatat Al Arab (Girl of the Arabs), was born in Al Ain in 1920, according to a website dedicated to the poetess. She lived most of her life in Al Ain and moved to Dubai in the 1980s, except for a fifteen year period spent in Qatar.

Google celebrates her today (November 28) as it was on this day in 2011 that a prestigious event recognised her contributions to literature. During the event, Ousha Al Suwaidi’s poetry was recited by well-known poets and writers, along with poems written in her honour.

She was just 15, when she first gained national fame in what was a male-dominated field of literature. In 2010, at the age of 90, Ousha received an award at the 11th Sharjah Festival of Classic Poetry. 

Later, she received the highest civilian honour in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Awards, presented by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.

It was His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who named her 'Fatat Al Arab' (Girl of the Arabs), replacing her original nickname 'Fatat Al Khaleej'. In 1989, Sheikh Mohammed dedicated a poem from his first published collection to Ousha.

The poetry community also established an annual award for female Emirati poets in Ousha Al Suwaidi’s name in 2011. A library at the Emirates International School, and a section of the Women's Museum in Dubai, was also dedicated in her honour.

Ousha Al Suwaidi passed away in 2018 at the age of 98.