January 4 Death Anniversary Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance in the UAE
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January 4 Death Anniversary Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance in the UAE

Commemorating Death Anniversary of Poet Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Inspires Further Efforts to Cement His Global Cultural Legacy.

ArtDayME: Every January 4 marks the anniversary of the death of poet Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais (1925-2000), widely recognised as one of the pioneers of the renaissance in the UAE, contributing significantly to its economic, social and cultural realms. This anniversary coincides with UNESCO’s designation of 2025 as the year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Emirati poet Sultan bin Ali Al Owais, who was born in 1925.

The decision followed a thorough review and evaluation of the dossier of Poet Sultan bin Ali Al Owais, presented by the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science at the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference. The move to commemorate Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais’s centenary stands as one of UNESCO’s most prominent initiatives dedicated to honouring icons of authentic culture worldwide who have made significant contributions in the diverse domains of thought, knowledgeand science.

Sultan bin Ali Al Owais elected UNESCO for the year 2025

The Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Foundation meticulously assembled an extensive dossier chronicling the life of the late poet Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais (1925 – 2000) for submission to UNESCO. The UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science wholeheartedly endorsed and supported this landmark initiative, actively supporting the file. This collaborative effort bore fruit, leading to the designation of 2025 as the year to commemorate the centenary of the poet Sultan Al Owais.

Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais

Sultan Bin Ali Bin Abdullah Al Owais was born in the town of Al Hira in 1925 in Sharjah where he received his early education. Descending from a family of pearl merchants, with his father, Ali Bin Abdullah Al Owais, being a skilled pearl trader (known as Tawashin). Sultan Al Owais followed in his father’s footsteps, involved in the pearl trade while also venturing into various other businesses, traveling between India and the UAE.  Raised in a family deeply passionate about literature and culture, his lineage boasted several poets, researchers and authors, including Salem Bin Ali Al Owais, Omran Al Owais, Ahmed Ali Al Owais, among others.

Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais commenced his poetic journey in 1947, marking his initial publication in the Beirut-based Al Wouroud Lebanese Magazine in 1970. Although he commenced composing poetry relatively late in his life, he left a lasting impact. Revered as one of the leading poets in the UAE, he served as a bridge between two generations of writers and poets and stood as a pioneer among love poets in the Arabian Gulf. Sultan Al Owais’s poetic oeuvre resonated deeply with diverse audiences, reflecting his heartfelt sincerity and introspection.

Celebrated for the profound emotional depth of his poetry, Sultan Al Owais is considered as a prominent figure in the Gulf’s poetry scene, and his work resonates with people from diverse backgrounds. One of his renowned works is “Mirrors of the Gulf,” published in Beirut in 1985, and he compiled a Diwan (a collection of poems) titled “Diwan Sultan Al Owais: The Complete Collection 1993.” 

According to academic studies, he was classified as one of the second generation of Al Hira poets, which included him (1925-2000), poet Sheikh Saqr Al Qasimi (1924 – 1994), and the poet Khalfan bin Musabih (1923 – 1946). Sultan Al Owais’ contributions to literature have been extensively studied and analysed by critics and scholars. These studies have been compiled in a book published by the Emirates Writers Union titled “Sultan Al Owais: A Merchant Who Loved Poetry.”

During his lifetime, Al Owais received numerous accolades and honours, most notably being honoured by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1996, alongside Their Highnesses, the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, who contributed sincerely to advancing the march of giving and generosity, acknowledging their significant efforts in supporting the Union’s progress and fostering its renaissance.

Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais

In recognition of esteemed contributions made by Arab writers, thinkers and scientists, the late poet Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais decided to establish an award bearing his name in 1987 with the aim of honouring and encouraging outstanding Arab writers and recognising their pivotal role in advancing the Arab nation’s intellectual landscape. His initiative culminated in the institution of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award as an independent award.

The UAE Writers Association recognized the newly established award and supervised the appointment of its first General Secretariat. Subsequently, in 1992, the Award underwent a transformation, evolving into an independent cultural foundation, maintaining the same name. This transition officially led to the establishment of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation under Emiri Decree No. 4, issued on March 21, 1994, by the late Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.


In an interview with writer Shawqi Rafi, published in the December 1993 issue of Al Arabi magazine, Sultan Al Owais shared, “Since the mid-1940s, we used to gather in groups comprising poets, writers, scholars, and scientists from various Arab countries. Our assemblies were devoted to fostering communication and strengthening relationships through knowledge and culture. Through trade and culture, we sought to explore ourselves and understand the global landscape around us, delve into our heritage, and contemplate our future. Our gatherings were designed to be merelyordinary cultural meetings.”

Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais

“My responsibility lies in choosing the right person and putting him in the right position. Through accumulated experience, one becomes more adept at understanding people, discerning the right choices, and placing them appropriately. I lead a team comprising respectful and compassionate individuals. The door of my office remains open to everyone, devoid of bureaucracy or barriers, nor secretary. I lend an ear to people, welcoming their opinions and listening to their suggestions, and complaints. My team comprehends that trust forms the cornerstone of our relationships with others, and they are dedicated to upholding this trust. This approach transforms our work into a delightful amalgamation of poetry and culture, fostering meaningful connections with others.