SIBF 2019 revives Hakawati – An ancient Arab art of storytelling

Emirati storyteller Hajer Ibrahim mixes the spoken tradition with art to bring young imaginations to life at Sharjah International Book Fair

11:36 PM | 9 Nov, 2019
SIBF 2019 revives Hakawati – An ancient Arab art of storytelling

SHARJAH – Hakawati, the ancient Arab art of storytelling is experiencing a healthy revival at the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair at the Storyteller’s Art Workshop. Emirati storyteller Hajer Ibrahim delighted young visitors with her larger than life repertoire at the Social Media Station.

“Despite the overwhelming consumption of technology, there is still a ‘strong appetite’ for stories, especially when consumed live during a face-to-face storytelling session. It is particularly effective with children”.

While children gleefully listened to her, they were full of enthusiasm to participate in the narrative process, gesturing and filling gaps with answers and cheerful exclamations.

Hajer who has been organising such workshops at across the UAE, noted: “I am yet to meet a child who does not like listening to stories. Therefore, I feel it is my responsibility to bring back this spoken tradition of storytelling which is still a powerful tool to preserve our history, customs and culture, and bring about social change”.

At the end of the session, the storyteller urges her listeners to share one scene, favourite moment or impression about the story, through a simple drawing. 

“While these children are still quite young, but I have done this workshop for older children, and an artwork often reveals the underlying subtleties of the narrative. This kind of an exercise often proves to be beneficial for them as all forms of arts are linked to each other and they reveal different perspectives”.

Aimed at discussing the power and purpose of reviving this tradition of Emirati storytelling, which is “the food for the Bedouin soul and makes the heart travel”, the latter drawings were purposed at presenting an alternative way of understanding.