Omani author Sa’eed Alsiyabi discusses irony in literature at SIBF 2020

The professor and playwright highlights irony as a tool for social and cultural commentary, at a Sharjah International Book Fair online session

Sharjah, November 12, 2020

The 39th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair hosted Omani author Dr. Sa’eed Alsiyabi to discuss irony in literature, its role in rendering many literary works unforgettable, and how this literary device has been used in Omani literature. The author also spoke about his experiences as a playwright, script writer for radio and television and short story writer.   

Speaking to Jordanian writer Mohammad Abu Arab at an online session held on the ‘Sharjah Reads’ virtual platform, the author of Dialogues of the Omani Neighborhood: Electronic Chat in the Omani Culture, highlighted how the literary device has been employed by prominent authors and intellectuals. He also explained the use of dramatic irony in other arts, including theatre and films.

Alsiyabi pointed out that many authors used irony to convey their message or point of view about various social and cultural issues in a simple and indirect manner. “It is like a pill coated with sugar,” he said.

The author noted that irony has always been effectively used in folk tales and fables from around the world to deliver messages or impart advice.

The Omani academic spoke about the importance of irony as a powerful literary device that can enrich the creative work and make it unforgettable. He cited the example of ‘Joha’, a famous character in Arabic popular literature who narrates stories about life in a simple yet intelligent and sarcastic manner.

Alsiyabi said that the device was widely employed in Omani folk arts, such as the ‘Maidan’, an artistic ‘war of words’ contest where men gather to recite poems and sing traditional songs. “The use of irony in this art helps authors express their deeper philosophical concepts about life. Many authors, including Omani writer Sulaiman Al Maamari, use this device very effectively,” he added.

Speaking about how he uses irony in his works, the Omani writer said: “I have used dramatic irony as a device mainly in my television and radio scripts. It is an effective tool for me to explore life and answer deep questions.”

Dr. Sa’eed Alsiyabi is a professor at the Department of Theater Art, Sultan Qaboos University. He has written many books on theatre, including The Other in the Omani Theater, Employing Folk Literature in the Gulf Theatrical Text and Text Dictionary and Omani Theater Performances.

Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF 2020 concludes on November 14. Being held under the theme, ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’, the 39th edition has adopted a fully digital format to host its cultural programme of 64 unique events, which are being streamed on SBA’s virtual platform over the 11 days of the fair. Register for upcoming discussions at