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Nabati – is the name given to the poetry currently found in the United Arab Emirates today. It is not written in the literary Arabic of the Qu’ran but uses vernacular Arabic.
The name ‘nabati’ is said to derive from the ancient Nabateans, who lived in Petra and other areas of north western Arabia. As non- Arabic speaking people become Muslims, they began to speak Arabic that was more colloquial than the classic Arabic of the Qu’ran and this became known as Nabati. It is also known as ‘Bint al rimal’ – literally ‘Daughter of the sands.’
Nabati poetry has a long pedigree and reaches back many hundreds of years, and even some pre-Islamic poetry has similar structure, themes and metre.
Nabati poetry became an outlet for creativity in the Arabian Peninsula, where other forms of creative output such as painting and sculpture were impractical and had no heritage. It is one of the areas literary treasures.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is an accomplished poet and has published many poems. Initially, these were published under a pen name, to ensure that they were judged on their merit, rather than as the poems of the ruling Sheikh. They received acclaim, and he now publishes under his own name.
One of Sheikh Mohammed’s poems My Hopes is dedicated to HH Sheikh Zayed:
O! You, our brothers of Kuwait and Euphrates.
O! You, our brothers, north and south in the Arab world.
Zayed has called out to us with dedicated resolve
A call whose commitment rekindles true hearts.
Listen to Zayed! Abandon sleep!
He has called us to denounce division.
He who follows Zayed may hope to survive.
Following Zayed is a duty – a vital duty.