Emirati wonder kid makes history: Four-year-old prodigy aims to enter Guinness World Record as youngest female author

She recently published her first picture book, The Lost Rabbit, making her the youngest Emirati illustrator and publisher

by

Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 28 May 2023, 5:27 PM

Last updated: Wed 7 Jun 2023, 8:30 AM

This little Emirati girl is surely a cut above the rest. At the tender age of four she is already making waves in the community and the country. She has now set her sight on entering the Guinness World Record (GWR) for being the youngest person (female) to publish a book.

Abu Dhabi resident Alfai Al Marzooqi recently published her first picture book, The Lost Rabbit, making her the youngest Emirati illustrator and publisher (female) in the world by the Department of Culture and Tourism.


Alfai’s passion for creativity and storytelling shines through in her accomplishments. 'The Lost Rabbit', a story about friendship and kindness, has evidently resonated well with the community as the book signing event drew huge numbers at the ongoing Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Her mother Teeb Al Barri says, “Since she was four, she loved listening to stories. We used to read for her every night, different stories from different ages, sometimes slightly above her age. She was always inquisitive and loved asking questions. Her father encouraged this talent, bringing her all kinds of colouring materials and stationary supplies. We created a special room where she would hang her artwork. It was like a small gallery. We would go into her room and buy the ‘artwork’ she had created,” says Alfai’s mother who is an entrepreneur herself.


“I showed her the picture of a girl who was the youngest author in Britain. Her illustrations were similar to Alfai’s somehow. She really felt inspired and wanted to do it as well. So, as a mother it was my job to encourage her. Subsequently, she spent the next three days drawing the characters of her story book. She loves animals so she decided to have an animal in the story,” adds Teeb.

Incorporating her trusted companion, Salma, into her narrative, the pair embarks on a quest to locate the elusive rabbit that had gone missing. Eventually, the protagonist triumphantly discovers the rabbit, bringing immense joy to her dear friend.

“Later in school Alfai she and told her friend Salma about it. So, her friend’s mother got quite excited, and she started asking my daughter about the lost rabbit and what happened consequently in the story. This also got her more interested. So, after returning from the school she started drawing the other pages of the story every day. Then I started asking her about those drawings and describing them in two sentences. Then whatever she would say I began to start writing it down as a story,” explains the mother of the FS2 pupil of Brighton College Abu Dhabi.

Although available both in Arabic in English, Alfai’s parents struggled to find a publisher who was willing to take on the job without compromising with the original content.

“We had a difficult time trying to get the book published. That’s because the big names, and even small ones said they had to change the illustrations of our daughter. I refused to do so because we were aiming for the Guinness. If we changed the original illustrations my daughter wouldn’t be eligible to apply for the records. That’s the Guinness rule. So, I stuck to my point. But eventually we found a publisher who specialises in publishing the children’s books. Following this, all formalities were fulfilled, and the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) gave Alfai the title of being the youngest publisher at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.”

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To be priced between Dh35 and Dh45, the book will be available on her website and www.fayoonah.ae will soon come to e-commerce platforms like Amazon.

Shedding light on the critical role that parents need to play in identifying and honing their child’s talent Teeb says, “My daughter is also a Youtuber and has been inducted into my business at a nascent stage. Additionally, her own website Fayoonah sells educational toys. My daughter also helps me in my entrepreneurial endeavours of course in her small ways. So, she has been introduced to events, companies, suppliers, books and papers at a very early stage of her life. I must also mention majority of people have been supportive and have encouraged Alfai and us to achieve newer heights for the community and the country which is really heartwarming.”

The Emirati mother also reiterates that age should not be used as the sole determinant of success.

“I feel as parents it’s imperative that we understand that success is not measured by age. Even if your child has a small talent, though in the early stages should always be encouraged. We as adults may be busy but I will urge parents to spare some time to work on and highlight the talents of their children, believe in them and this will ultimately stand them in good stead. Guinness has already got in touch with us, and we are hoping for the best now,” she adds.


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