Frontlist | Ritaj, the youngest Saudi novelist, eyes a place in Guinness

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Ritaj Al-Hazmi, aged 11, is the youngest Saudi novelist who has been nominated to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. She has published two novels, and is currently working on three more novels, one of them dedicated to children.

In an exclusive interview with Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Ritaj introduced herself as a “Saudi writer and author who speaks Arabic and English and is learning Japanese”.

Ritaj published her first novel in English language titled “Treasure of the Lost Sea” in 2019. Her second book titled “Portal of the Hidden World” was also published in the same year.

She attended a workshop to learn the art of writing, especially fiction, and she has many passions, including reading, writing and drawing.

Referring to her journey towards becoming the youngest novelist in the Kingdom, Ritaj said: “I started writing at the age of six while I was accompanied by my family to study abroad.

“During the first year of schooling, my teacher asked me to write about the places where I visited together with my family. During that period, I joined many programs and activities that were offered by the library in the neighborhood of my home.”

She continued saying: “At the age of seven, I was keen to continue reading and visiting libraries after our return to Saudi Arabia. At the age of eight, I started writing short stories because of my love for writing.

“One day while I was shopping to buy some books, my father asked me whether I would like to have a book of my own among these books? Then, it was just an idea, and within a short period, I started a new phase in the world of writing.

“I was reading so intensely that in one of my summer programs I have had completed reading more than 50 books. This helped me to get a lot of ideas and learn to acquire a unique writing style.”

Ritaj thanked her family for their constant support and encouragement. I finished the first book at the age of nine, after which the book was submitted for scrutiny.

At that time, I discovered that everything I penned down did not correspond to the composition of the novel. Then my family decided to teach me how to write a novel by getting me to participate in many specialized courses from which I learned a lot.

By the time, I rewrote the book again by applying everything I had learned. I finished the first book at the age of ten, and published it in 2019.

Ritaj is working on her current novel in a series of fictions titled “Treasure of the Lost Sea.”

The first in the series is titled “Treasure of the Lost Sea” and the second is titled “Portal of the Hidden World.”

The third book with the title of “Beyond the Future World” will be published soon. There are also two books in progress, one of them dedicated to children.

Regarding the content of her novels, she commented: “The novel “Treasure of the Lost Sea” tells the story of a brother and sister who belong to a poor family living in a deserted island, and their lives change because of a map they find in the sea.

In the second part, the family begins a beautiful life full of happiness, but a group of bad guys are targeting them because of the map. As for the third part, it talks about discovering what will happen in the future.

To a question about her emotions when she was nominated for entry into the Guinness Book, Ritaj replied: “In fact, the feeling is inexplicable. I feel the enthusiasm that makes me continue to write and compose.”

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