The female Emirati author who writes under the pseudonym, Daawy, explores the deep emotional trials of Camellia who studies in Australia with a live-in chaperon in the shape of her uncle, allowing her to pursue her educational goals of studying abroad. A conscientious and devout young lady, she is actively avoiding love to the extent she runs away when she first meets the enigmatic Saif, also an Emirati student, but the power of attraction can test even the strongest wills.
An intense insight into the mind of a young Emirati woman provides a realistic snapshot of the sometimes-complicated life of someone torn between the temptations of modern life and traditional cultural family pressures.
Inclusive of often-taboo subjects, such as arranged marriages, while dispelling some myths along the way, there is also an insight into an ultra-exclusive DWTC Emirati wedding. The warm and sensitive dialogue that will pull at the heart strings in this roller-coaster of life – with a few twists thrown in for good measure.
Daawy’s honest and easy to read writing style features a sensitive focus on articulation of emotions, which will appeal to a wide audience, but particularly young women. The love story is a compelling, provocative peek into an intimate diary, with vivid description bringing colors, smells and familiar feelings alive in the reader.
Daawy explained, while the character is based upon the thoughts of some Emiratis, especially when experiencing new challenges for the first time, the similarity to herself is mostly restricted to Camellia’s personality, such as her fondness for books, her birth date and other quirks, such as her love for candles and snow globes.
She said: “In the book, Camellia loves to read a short story from an anthology before bedtime. However, I am fortunate my short stories have been published in several anthologies in real life. As for the conflicts, such as heartbreak and infertility issues, I’m lucky to have never experienced such problems but I sympathize deeply with women who do.
“I feel the book will appeal to anyone curious enough to learn about our culture. It will also be interesting to anyone living in the Emirates, since they will be able to associate with certain settings and customs.
“This book is unusual as it’s a modern day story portraying the Emirates written by a ‘local’ in English, but I do have plans for translating the story to Arabic eventually, since I want people close to me who do not read English books to enjoy it.
“Although the book is fiction, it deals with realistic social issues people from all walks of life can relate to. However, the book also touches on traditional aspects lots of locals are still fond of like some specific snacks and drinks and the Arabic cartoon anthology – Majid.”
This is the first novel from Daawy, who has previously had two short stories published in American anthologies, chosen from thousands of other entries. Recently another short story, which focuses on family relationships, was accepted for publication in an international anthology called Family Matters, representing the UAE among 21 different nationalities.
“Since I was a child, I had three dreams I wanted to fulfill. My first was to study law, which I have already completed. My second dream was to be a teacher – I did tutor kids during a humanitarian trip in Mali and taught my siblings all their subjects in depth when they were younger. My third dream was to be a writer and publish at least one novel in my lifetime. Every day this dream grew bigger within me, until I finally decided it was time to turn my greatest dream to reality.
“There are few writers from my background and country who have written novels in English. I have been carrying a story in my mind for many years and have finally transformed my thoughts into writing a published novel. I hope my book would be able to bridge between the English and Arabic worlds and correct any misconception about our thoughts and customs by introducing real and unbiased behaviors of many modern Emirati individuals. I used my writing to discuss foreign concepts in the lightest and fairest way possible, by introducing characters that we can all identify with.”
From the Capital With Love, printed and distributed by Medad Publishing, can be found in UAE bookstores or online.