Muscat: Ruaa Salim Al Maashari has become the first Omani to win an award for writing the best French poem across the Middle East.
She won the award at the 2017 Poésie en liberté competition.
“My passion for French poetry and literature prompted me to participate in the French poetry contest.”
Al Maashari, a student at Nizwa University, who majors in French and translation has always loved learning new languages and currently speaks Arabic, English, and French.
“I always wanted to learn a third language; I chose French because I noticed that many people globally speak it and it is such a beautiful language,” she said.
Al Maashari, who only recently discovered her talent for poetry, was able to use her passion and emotions to write a poem that is sincere. “The poem is about motherhood, love, and longing. I study in Nizwa, but my family are all in Muscat, so there have been many times when being away from family was hard, and I miss them a lot, especially my mother.”
“I wrote this poem for her, but I didn’t tell her, so when I won, she was so happy and proud of me,” added Al Maashari. This is the first time that the Sultanate has participated in the literary competition.
“I think the fact that I am the first Omani to win this competition, and that it was a poem about my mother made my victory even sweeter,” said Al Maashari.
Al Maashari began learning French when she was 18, but found it difficult to learn it in Oman as it is not as common as English.
“Initially, it was hard, but I love challenging myself, and so I was able to progress to a level that I am very happy with.”
Talking about what is next for her she said: “I hope to be employed in the field of translation, I also intend to continue studying the French language and develop my knowledge of it, by writing more poems.”
The French language department at the university also won an award for the best participation in the Middle East.
The literary competition, which is held by the Paris-Sorbonne University, began 19 years ago. It was announced in mid-2017. More than 4,000 poems from different countries were submitted to this year’s competition.
“One of the main criteria for submitting a poem is that the writer’s first language must not be French.”
Al Maashari was contacted by organisers in Paris to inform her of the win and invited to attend the award ceremony in Paris, in mid-November.
In the future, Al Maashari hopes to see the French language spreading to schools and universities around the Sultanate. “I believe that students must always look for any opportunity to challenge and prove themselves in whatever field that may interest them.”