The late Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais was an Emirati poet born in 1925 in Al Heera – Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
His family, known for their love of literature and culture, includes many prominent poets, scholars and authors; such as poet Salem Bin Ali Al Owais, historian Imran Al Owais and novelist Ahmed Ali Al Owais among many others. The young Sultan was raised in a home where science and literature were appreciated. This greatly contributed to him becoming one of the UAE’s most prominent poets, and earned him recognition both in GCC countries and the entire Arab world.
Sultan’s poems became widely known in many literary circles in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. He also became acquainted with a great number of renowned Arab poets and authors, many of whom became his friends. He exchanged visits with many of these literary friends and dedicated many of his poems to them, hence becoming a cultural ambassador for his country and representing UAE poets in many cultural events and festivals in the Arab world.
Sultan was born to a family of reputable and well-established traders, which included his father the late Ali Bin Abdullah Al Owais; a skillful pearl trader who had made great success in his business before the pearling tradition dwindled and the market suffered as a result. The young Sultan Al Owais had benefited immensely from the practical trading experience he gained from his dad, and succeeded in expanding his business within the evolving market at the time. He continued in the pearl business in addition to other businesses, travelling between the UAE and India, which gained him broad life experience.
Sultan authored one published collection of poems. Many scholars and literary critics studied and wrote about his collection of poems and these studies were compiled in a book issued by the Emirates Writers Union under the title of “Sultan Al Owais: A Merchant Who Fell in Love with Poetry”. In addition to his poetry collection, Sultan’s poems were also published in newspapers and magazines. Although his literary journey extended for more than three decades, his poetic works have been scarce. Nevertheless, he is considered one of the leading poets in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf region. His poetry represents a link between two generations of poets and authors.
He dedicated a part of his wealth to creating a trust (waqf) for funding a cultural award bearing his name. He spent generously on his humanitarian and charitable projects and contributed to many philanthropic and cultural ventures in the Arab region. The award he established, known as the “Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award”, is considered to be one of the most prestigious cultural awards in the Arab world. His initiative to establish this award, which is granted to Arab innovators from various cultural and literary fields, reflects his keen appreciation for intellectual and literary creativity. The award, which had been under the supervision of the Emirates Writers Union, later evolved into an independent cultural foundation with the same name, officially becoming the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation by virtue of Emiri Decree No. 4 dated March 21, 1994 issued by the late H. H. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the then Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai.
In addition to his notable philanthropic efforts and cultural initiatives both in the UAE and beyond, the late poet was one of the founders of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of its Board Members for many years. He was also Board Chairman and member of many leading companies. He passed away on January 4th, 2000