Hamad bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) is rapidly developing a variety of titles that focus on the heart of the region: its folktales, history and culture.

HBKU Press Head of Arabic Publishing Fakhri Saleh explained that by empowering local talent and by focusing on the ingenuity of the Qatari and Arab population, they are supporting the vibrant literary culture in Qatar, helping develop content that is reflective of the values and history of the region.

Studies have proven that readers relate to and engage in subjects and books that reflect their environment. When a reader can identify with the characters, setting, values and ideals in a book, they are more likely to enjoy the work and develop the habit of reading regularly. HBKU Press has several new and beautifully illustrated titles that are sure to do just that.

Qatari author of Manal’s World, Muneera Saad Al-Rumaihi, has followed up the wild success of her debut children’s title with another hit: the personally-inspired Angry Majid. In Manal’s World, the main character Manal was inspired by a disabled child who studied with the author’s children at school. She wrote the book to answer questions children may have about people with disabilities, as well as to break stereotypes.

People with special needs are active members of the community and their disabilities do not prevent them from achieving success; everyone should be aware of this value.’

Another local author, Dr Kaltham Ali Al Ghanim, found her inspiration for her two books from local and international folklore. Her latest book, Ghosoun and her Brother, the Gazelle, is a transcription of Qatari folklore and tells the enchanting story of love and loss, loyalty and betrayal.

Dr Al Ghanim’s first published work with HBKU Press was an adaptation of the classic fairytale Cinderella. Titled Hamda and Fisaikra, it tells the tale of Hamda rescued by the magical fish Fisaikra.

Mohamed Ali’s Victory Over Abu Derya touches upon another local tradition: the pearling industry of centuries past. With a touch of fantasy and imagination, Ali weaves a tale centred around the legendary guardian of the Sea Kingdom, Abu Derya, and a young boy named Rashid.

If history, rather than fiction is a subject of interest, Qatari author and naval historian Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud has published three unique works: Arhama, a children’s book depicting the epic tale of an adventurer who comes to appreciate the value of learning and being prepared in order to succeed; and The Holy Sail and The Corsair, fictional novels that mirror historic events and take place in the historically accurate Gulf regions, touching upon the themes of adventure, action, drama and love.

The Global Majlis, written by Cultural Advisor to His Highness the Emir, Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, falls under the non-fiction category as it encompasses his experiences as Qatar’s Minister of Culture and as Qatar’s ambassador to countries in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, and his tenures in international bodies such as the UNESCO and the United Nations in New York. The autobiography explores communication, dialogue, talks between individuals, community, the state and the wider regional and international forum.

Saleh said that ultimately, the HBKU Press wants to publish books that are actually read.

And the stories that are coming from the region are unique, insightful, inspiring and contribute to the narrative of a region rich in culture and history. Our audience in Qatar is very receptive to these works and it is our hope that we can continue to captivate and engage them for generations to come.’

For information on new titles from HBKU Press, visit their website at hbkupress.com.