Originating in ancient Arab states, the roots of Nabati poetry can be traced back to several centuries ago. With its first published works dating back to the 14th century, Nabati poetry essentially forms an integral part of Arab literature. This unique art of lyrical storytelling has over the years, been used to establish peace, resolve disputes and even declare war.
WHAT IS NABATI POETRY?
The vernacular Nabati poetry is often also known as “Bedouin poetry” or “the people’s poetry.” This traditional Arabic poetry has always been an inherent part of Arab culture. Some Bedouin poets have been known to memorise as many as 20,000 poems for oral recitations.
One of the basic reasons for the popularity of Nabati among the masses is the simple language it uses to narrate complex phenomena. Unlike the formal prose of classical and contemporary Arabic literature, the colloquial Arabic used in Nabati makes it direct, clear and comprehensible for the common man.
NABATI POETRY IN THE UAE
Nabati poetry in the UAE is celebrated as a means of relaying both prose and songs. The most prominent Nabati practitioners of modern times was Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, also known as Fatat Al Arab. A Poetess extraordinaire, Ousha emerged as an eminent cultural figure and one of the finest Nabati poets in the UAE.
Even after her death in 2018, Fatat Al Arab’s work continues to influence aspiring poets, making monumental contributions to the evolution of Arab Literature and Nabati poetry in the UAE . Even before Ousha, there have been several poets and Nabati practitioners who have enlightened masses through the course of history through their words.
Mubarak Al Oqaili who lived between 1880 and 1954, was one of the first Classical Arabic poets from the UAE to gain recognition for his Nabati works. Others who succeeded in making their mark in the field include Salem bin Ali Al Owais, Ahmed bin Sulayem, H.H. Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi and Khalfan Musabah
Over the years, this form of literature has undergone continuous renaissance. At present, Nabati poetry is once again experiencing a resurgence of popularity with poets bringing it back to mainstream Arabic Literature.
Taking pride in its rich Arabic heritage, the UAE has always endorsed the different elements of its culture. To promote Nabati poets and their works, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage hosts a biannual reality show called Poet of the Million on Abu Dhabi TV.
Poet of the Million is a festival of poetry that offers Emirati Nabati poets a chance to share their work with the masses and compete for the grand prize. The fact that this programme became one of the most successful reality shows in the Arab world speaks volumes of its popularity.
The Nabati poetry themes are not so different from those used in classical Arab poetry. Nabati poetry typically gives advice and shares wisdom through tales of unity, group solidarity, chivalry, pride and longing.
Using riddles, legends and simple expressions, these poems among other things celebrate great leaders, cherish life in desert and delve into the profound love for family . However, it’s not the theme of Nabati poetry that makes it stand apart from other literary forms. It is the everyday language it uses that connects with the masses and adds intimacy and excitement to the prose.
Want to learn more about Nabati poetry and its cultural influence? Here are some other helpful links that you can refer to for more information on the subject.
- Nabati Poetry: A Glimpse of the Past – The reality television show featuring Nabati poetry is helping this form of poetry become more popular.
- The Nabati Poetry of the UAE: A Remarkable Anthology – Poetry is used for the affirmation of societal values and to discuss social and/or political issues.
- Million’s Poet: Abu Dhabi’s Prestigious Poetry Programme – Poet of the Million is a type of talent show that is creating renewed interest in Nabati poetry.
- Bedouin Nabati Poetry in the Arabian Peninsula – People in the Arabian Peninsula have used Nabati poetry as a way of affirming tribal values for hundreds of years.
- Nabati Poetry – Nabati poetry dates back to the 16th century, and it has been helpful as a source of information for historical events.
- Nabati Poetry: The Poetry of the Desert – Nabati poetry is different from classical Arabic poetry, because it is written using everyday language to reflect daily life.
- Nabati Poetry Offers a Glimpse Into the Past – Because of the language used in Nabati poetry, it tends to appeal to people of all ages and walks of life.
- Translating Emirati Poetry (PDF) – Poetry is an important part of Arabic literature, and Nabati poetry is one of the most popular types of poetry in this region.
- The Poetry Of Nabati Poetry As A Form Of Poetry – Nabati poems describe events that happened in the past, often daily events that everyone experienced.
- The Seductive Appeal of Arabic Poetry – Poetry is an important part of Arab language and culture, and some young children even write poetry.
- Interview with Frank Dullaghan – Frank Dullaghan is a poet living in Dubai who has written poetry and haiku collections and serves as a poetry judge for a festival held in Dubai.
- Arabic Poetry: 10 Writers, Classic and Modern, You Need to Read – The classic Arabic poem was an ode, which was written about a specific person or thing.
- Arabic Poetry “The Register of the Arabs” – Arabs have traditionally valued poetry as a part of their cultural heritage and it has always been a part of their identity.
- Arabic Poetry – The recitation of poems is a common experience in the Arab world and rhythm and rhymes are a popular form of entertainment.
- 9 Poems That Prove Ancient Arabs Were The Best Valentines Ever – Love poems are a renowned branch of Arabic poetry that depict ancient stories of love and longing.
- Arabic Literature – Poetry – Arabs have traditionally valued poetry as a means of sharing cultural heritage.
- Arabic Sufi Poetry – Arab poetry often involves petitions for knowledge and confessions of bewilderment.
- 15 Arab Poets of the 21st Century – Many call Arab poetry the language of the Arabs and reciting poetry is a longstanding tradition.
- A Brief, Wondrous History of Arabic Literature – Arab literature has traditionally told stories about nomadic life, conquests, luxuries and ancient civilizations. Odes have been a popular way to convey these messages.
- Desert Voices: Arabic Poetry through the Ages, Part I – Pre-Islamic Poetry – Arab poets are known for creating intricate verses and these odes are often enjoyed with oral recitations.
- The Popularity of Arabic Poetry – Gathering to listen to poems, the Arabs have used this type of literature as a means of telling stories, remembering events and reflecting on their society.
- Arabic Poetry – Pre-Islamic poetry was known for its lyrical nature and the stories told within the prose.
- On World Poetry Day: A Kaleidoscope of 21 Arabic Poems in Translation – Explore the translation of 21 Arabic poems that tell stories about different events.
- Arabic Poetry – Qays b. Mulawwih’s poems about his love for a woman named Layla contain famous lines that still resonate today.
- Poetry in the Muslim-Arab World – Poetry is important in the Muslim world, in part due to its connection with God and the Quran.
- The Encyclopedia of Arabic Poetry – An Encyclopedia of Arabic Poetry contains more than 1.8M poems by more than 1,000 different poets.
- Nabati Poetry (PDF) – Use this short worksheet to learn about Nabati poetry and test your knowledge.
- New Words for Old: Continuity of Language and Perspective in the United Arab Emirates (PDF) – Nabati poetry straddles current society and ancient eras, maintaining its relevance thanks to new television shows.
- Folk Culture – Nabati is a type of folklore poetry that tells stories about common experiences that are typical of the lower class people.
- First Nabati Poetry Conference in the Region – The first Nabati Poetry Conference was held in (Dubai) in 2014 and it included talks and recitals by local experts.
Visiting Abu Dhabi during the festival though, having a chance to share and discuss the poetry with other enthusiasts and poets adds a whole new dimension of engagement to the event, compared to the one-way experience the television provides the masses with.
Not to mention having the opportunity to participate and a chance at the next Million’s Poet prize.
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