SIBF 2021: Nine-year-old girl is the youngest author at fair

Selena Raafat Hamed wrote her first story when she was six


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 3:59 PM

Selena Raafat Hamed is not yet 10, but she has already won an award for her story and is so passionate about reading that she has more than 300 books in her library at home.

Selena is the youngest author and poet to participate in the 40th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). Her story titled "The Red Planet" won a writers' award at a competition held on the sidelines of SIBF.

At a young age, Selena discovered her passion for reading and writing stories for children. She has written over 15 stories, with active encouragement from her family and friends. The workshops she attended has helped her hone her talent.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the Grade 5 student at Sama Private American School, said she wrote her first story called "Supergirls" when she was six.

The science fiction story is about three sisters, two of whom possess supernatural powers. She plans to translate all her stories in English to cater to children from around the world.

“As a Syrian, I’m lucky to be in the UAE, which has helped me in my writing. I came fourth in the qualifiers for the Arab Reading Challenge in its fifth season and I was also given a chance to organise a workshop in Ajman on writing short stories for more than 16 children. I also won an award for my poem entitled “Children of the World” which describes the situation of children during the corona pandemic," Selena said.

To honour the UAE’s Hope Probe and express her pride in the landmark achievement, she wrote a poem called “Probe of Hope” and dedicated it to the people and leadership of the UAE.

Selena aspires to be a famous children’s author in the future, and also has ambitions to be a doctor and help the sick and needy. This, she said, she learned from the UAE, a country where hope, tolerance and happiness thrive.

Selena's mother Dina Ismael Nadir said her daughter imbibed a love of reading when she was in her womb.


“When I was pregnant with Selena, I began reading stories loudly when I was in my last trimester. After I gave her birth, I continued reading her stories until she began reading by herself," Dina said.

"I never encouraged her to have gadgets, instead, I bought her books. Her father and I would take her to all the book fairs in the UAE and we would pick up a large number of books on different topics for her."

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