5-year-old Emirati girl becomes the youngest female publisher

Grade 1 student won laurels for her book ‘The Lost Rabbit’, which puts the spotlight on friendship shared among children

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Ashwani Kumar

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Alfai Al Marzooqi during a book reading session. Photo: Supplied
Alfai Al Marzooqi during a book reading session. Photo: Supplied

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 6:31 PM

A five-year-old Emirati girl from Abu Dhabi, Alfai Al Marzooqi, has etched her name in the Guinness World Records as the youngest female to publish a book.

Alfai, a Grade 1 student of Brighton College Abu Dhabi, has won laurels for her book ‘The Lost Rabbit’, which sheds a spotlight on friendship shared among children. Her work, including imaginative drawings, revolves around compassion, love for animals, and caring for one another.

The characters in her story, Alfai, Salma, and the latter’s lost rabbit, Fufu, take readers on a heartwarming journey of friendship and kindness. Interestingly, the character Salma is her friend and classmate in real life.

Alfai's mother, Teeb Al Barri, saw her daughter’s passion for storytelling at the tender age of two. She loved to listen to the stories that her mother read to her before bed and would ask thought-provoking questions.

“She would always ask me strange questions, like ‘How old is the tree’ and ‘Do roses laugh’? She was not interested in TV or tablets like other children but was focused on books,” said her mother.

The five-year-old during a reading session
The five-year-old during a reading session

Book written in 3 days

Teeb revealed that it took just three days for Alfai to write, draw, and colour the entire story of ‘The Lost Rabbit’, showcasing her exceptional creativity and dedication. Alfai aspires to be an international fashion designer, drawing inspiration from her love of reading and storytelling. In pursuit of this dream, the family has launched the exclusive ‘Tell and Tale’ brand, showcasing Alfai’s unique and artistic fashion pieces.

Alfai’s father, Yaqoub Al Marzooqi, expressed immense pride in his daughter’s achievement.

“We all feel proud as we worked for several months on this title and collaborated with many parties, including Dar Sama for publishing and distribution to ensure we reached audiences at book fairs.”

The Al Marzooqi family’s commitment to fostering talent also extends to Alfai’s four-year-old brother, Hamad Al Marzooqi, who is aiming to set the Guinness Record for the youngest Emirati chef and entrepreneur in the children’s category.

Her extraordinary achievement was announced at Burjeel Hospital, where Alfai was born on June 14, 2018. The hospital facilitated the publication of her book and the subsequent recognition by Guinness World Records.

Members of the Emirates Heritage Club, doctors, and senior officials of the hospital celebrated the achievement during a vibrant ceremony filled with activities like Alfai’s book reading and signing sessions, a magic show, face painting, dancing, and more.

Working on her new book

Eminent Emirati writer Mariam Nasser, officials of the Emirates Heritage Club, Omran AlKhoori, member of the board of directors and president of business development at Burjeel Holdings, and Waleed Tawfik chief operations officer at Burjeel Hospital, presented Alfai the certificate for the ‘Youngest Person to Publish a Book (Female)’. Emirates Heritage Club also offered her a lifetime membership.

Alfai’s father, Yaqoub Al Marzooqi (R)
Alfai’s father, Yaqoub Al Marzooqi (R)

AlKhoori underscored the hospital’s pride in supporting Alfai’s global achievement.

“Alfai is a daughter of this hospital. We all know her and her skills from her childhood,” AlKhoori said.

Dr Sausan Abdul Rahman, consultant of obstetrics and gynaecology, who performed Teeb’s delivery, congratulated Alfai.

Dr Sausan Abdul Rahman with Alfai
Dr Sausan Abdul Rahman with Alfai

“I was the first person who took you in my hand and felt your breath. I am so proud of you,” Dr Sausan said.

Teeb revealed that Alfai is already working on her next book titled ‘The Lost Cat’.

“Alfai loves animals. Her next book is about a cat. There will be more books in the future,” Teeb added. The book is available in Arabic and English and can be bought from Alfai’s online platform https://fayoonah.ae, and her social media platforms.

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