“I am the poem and here are my words for you. I wish I could have told their story to Zayed and Rashid”. These are the lines with which Dubai-based poet and published author, Al Hanouf Mohammed, opened her performance for International Women’s Day at EXPO 2020.
She then goes on to pay a powerful poetic tribute to the women of the UAE, their incomparable achievements, and their inspiring spirit. However, it is no ordinary performance that Al Hanouf brings to this stage. Her verses are interspersed with a unique and intriguing chorus voiced by a group of men, chanting in unison at periodic intervals.
“It is inspired by a 250-year old tradition called Al Azi,” says Al Hanouf when asked about this chorus. “Our men have performed this art form for many generations, and it is a very powerful form of poetry that celebrates honour, valour, courage, and achievement. What we perform today, however, is not Azi. It is inspired by it – but is something completely different. It is a new kind of fusion poetry. I am the first Emirati woman in over 250 years to try something like this, it has never been done before; so it was important that the style of poetry we create is also something completely new while remaining rooted in our heritage and culture.”
Watching her strong, confident voice resonate across a raptured audience, as she celebrates Emirati women, and then get echoed by the supportive cries of the Emirati men lined up behind her, is a sight that induces instant goosebumps and makes one marvel at the incredible journey of the UAE’s people over the last two and a half centuries.
“While the rest of the world is empowering women, the UAE’s women are already empowered. They are already at the forefront of our country as leaders, innovators, changemakers, and pioneers”, says Moadh Bukhash, chief marketing officer, Emirates NBD. “We all believed in this idea from the very moment it was first brought to us by our partners at Leo Burnett. It’s simple and elegant yet bold and powerful. It nods to our past while celebrating our today and heralding our future. It is everything Emirates NBD stands for and believes in.
As the world celebrates women on this day, Emirates NBD has made one thing certain – Emirati women have taken the stage and their voices will reverberate loud and clear for a long time to come. Watch the full video of the poem at @emiratesnbd_ae on Instagram.
Agency: Leo Burnett
Chief Creative Officer: Kalpesh Patankar
Creative: Paurav Shah
Senior Arabic Copywriter: Haytham Lamah
Head of A/V Production: Shereen Mustafa
Agency Producer: Nicolas Balaa
COO & CDO: Samer Shoueiry
Deputy Managing Director: Joelle Jammal
Communication Manager: Harsh Kocher
Client: Emirates NBD
Executive Vice President, Head of Group Marketing & Customer Experience: Vikram Krishna
Chief Marketing Officer: Moadh Bukash
Vice President, Group Media & Social: Mai Cheblak
Manager, Financial Literacy: Wajd Al Hashmi
Production House: Prodigious
PH Executive Producer: Naji Bechara
Film Director/DOP: Kamil Roxas
Poet: AlHanouf Mohammed
Band: Ayala Bin Shloul
PH Producer: Ralph Matar
PH Post Producer: Thalia Trad
Editor: Kamil Roxas