UAE: Why popular Emirati poet Rabie was 'loved by many, hated by none'

Rabie bin Yaqut, who passed away recently, discovered his passion for poetry in his 20s


Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Published: Fri 24 May 2024, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 May 2024, 11:01 PM

Popular Emirati poet Rabie bin Yaqut, who recently passed away, was hailed as a ‘maker of joy’ by a UAE royal. Elder Emiratis called him “the celebrity of their generation – loved by many and hated by none”. The younger generation looked up to him for his panache in poetry and timeless literary work.

But for his son, Othman Rabie, the Emirati poet, who lived among the titans of Emirati poetry, was “a loving, caring and compassionate father who treated all his children and grandchildren equally".

“He loved people. He loved to serve them and attended to their needs. We are glad that his legacy is filled with people’s love, respect and appreciation,” Othman told Khaleej Times.

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Early life

Rabie was born in 1928 in Ajman and was considered as one of the most prominent poets in the UAE. He entered katateeb, a local elementary school, but had to drop out at an early age to earn a living.

In the late 1940s, he travelled to Kuwait with his friends, Hamad Khalifah BuShahab and Rashid bin Safwan, for his first job at Ahmadi Oil Company.

Rabie was in his 20s when he discovered his passion for poetry. He continued working at the oil company for another 12 years and then went on to work in the Kuwaiti government for some more years.

Poet comes home

Rabie decided to return home before the formation of the UAE in 1972 and met a group of young performers, including the well-known actor and poet Sultan bin Hamad Al Shamsi, who was also known as the ‘Sultan of Poetry’, and writer-playwright Hamad Khalifa Bu Shahab.

He joined their theatre group and did three comic roles. After a short stint with theatre and acting, he shifted his focus on poetry.

'Fruit of Emirati poetry'

Rabie was part of the popular poets' television programme, ‘Poets Council’ which was aired on Dubai TV in the late sixties and featured poets such as Rashid AlKhader, Salem AlJamri, Muhammad bin Souqat, and Ali Bin Rahma AlShamsi.

It was there that he got his moniker ‘The Fruit of Emirati Poetry’ from Hamad Khalifa Bu Shahab, the founder of the TV programme.

Many of the older generation are filled with sorrow at the loss of their beloved poet and entertainer.

Hassan AlZaabim 60, said: “We used to watch him every time the poet’s council would air. His poetry was funny, entertaining but always respectful. We will truly remember him for all that he did to our nation and how he impacted our generation.

Another senior Emirati, Ahmed Abdulla, 70, added: Rabie was the celebrity of our generation. He was loved by many and hated by none. His poetry is still on our minds, and he will not be forgotten”

Master of traditional poetry

Khaled AlQassemi, UAE Minister of Culture, said: “The absence of Rabie bin Yaqut is a great loss to the cultural scene in the Emirates. He was a poet of great stature and one of the masters of traditional poetry. We knew him as a soft-spoken poet. His social poetry was filled with humour, and he entertained us with the most beautiful poetry without vulgarity.”

The funeral prayer for Rabie was held on Wednesday at Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Ajman. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman, and other high-level personalities and prominent Emiratis from across the UAE gave their finals respects to the well-loved grand poet.


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