Within the initiative “Read me, I am this book” supervised and directed by Dr. Abdelhak Belabed, Professor of Literature Issues, Critical and Comparative Studies, the Qatari Forum for Authors hosted Monday evening Dr. Abdelali Boutayeb from the University of Meknes, Morocco to shed light on the issue of women’s contribution to Qatari fiction writing. The episode was broadcasted via the forum’s YouTube channel and social networks.
At the beginning of the session, Dr. Boutayeb said that he chose this topic due to the special nature of the Qatari fictional scene, represented by the strong and remarkable presence of the participation of women. As happened and commonly occurs in all Arab countries without exception, this participation is not only vigorous in enriching the creative foundation in authorship, but also in establishing this Literary type and inculcate it in the Qatari cultural soil. “The Qatari cultural scene is unique among the contemporary Arab cultural movement, since most of the narrative, authorship production is found under feminist literature” said Boutayeb.
This unique feature can be found in its most tangible manifestations by reviewing the history of fictional writing in the State of Qatar. It is noted that the inception of novel writing was purely feminine, with Dalal Khalifa’s novel “The Myth of Man and the Lake” published in 1993. Khalifa kept on writing and issued a second novel in the following year named “The Last Trees of the Prairie”, then in 1995 added to these series a third novel called “From the old sailor to You”.
In this context, Boutayeb explained that the women’s founding effort in the authoring scene in Qatar is exceptional. “Novelist, Shuaa Khalifa, shared her sister’s passion for writing. She released in the same period in 1993, her first novel “Old Dreams of the Sea,” and in the same year, followed it up with a second novel entitled “ Crossing over to the truth, ”. She followed her sister Dalal Khalifas’ footsteps, releasing a third novel named “ Waiting for the Whistle, ”in 1994” he emphasized.
“Male fictional works did not appear on the Qatari literary scene until nearly a decade later, specifically in 2005. This was represented in the “Embrace of the Exile” novel by Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Malik.
Female and male works of fiction kept on with a greater flow in recent years. This is evident from the dedicated bibliographic lists” he further explained.
Dr. Boutayeb considered that this phenomenon constitutes a strange paradox that deserves socio-cultural research and study to uncover the secrets of this strange abnormality in a conservative Gulf society. This is especially since Women’s contribution in this creative production is not limited to paving the way to this art but extended to development as well. This matter is evidenced by the efforts of Later generations of female novelists, such as the works of Noura Al Saad, Amal Al Suwaidi, Sumaya Tisha, May Al Nisf, Noura Muhammad Faraj, Dana Al Obaidly, Zakia Mal Allah, Shamma Al Kuwari and other Qatari female novelists.
Through his input, the professor focused on “The Myth of Man and the Lake” novel by pioneering novelist Dalal Khalifa in establishing the Qatari novel, and “No one but you” by Shamma Shaheen Al-Kuwari on the development of the Qatari novel. Through his in-depth critical reading of these two works, he concluded that women’s efforts has proven their value, to the point where it can be asserted that the young Qatari fictional scene, whose age does not exceed three decades, has today become comparable to many Arab novelist scenes, which until recent past were many decades ahead.
The critic review sessions “Read Me, I Am This Book” were launched since the beginning of home quarantine. Throughout the months of this period, the sessions hosted the finest critics, researchers and academics from all around the world to shed light on Qatari literature and delve into it with insightful critical reading. Finally, the activities of this initiative will carry on during August.