Dubai native, Maha Gargash has always been interested in telling the story, big or small, and she did that first through the lens of a camera, then with words on paper. She studied Communication, majoring in Radio/Television at the George Washington University, Washington D.C., and, later gained a Masters Degree in the same field from Goldsmiths College, London.
Returning to Dubai after her studies, she joined Dubai Radio and Television. In a career that spanned over twenty years, she produced and presented radio programs and news reports, and served three years as station director for the popular English FM 92, and another three as Vice President of Dubai Television. But she is best known for her television documentaries, which provided extensive travel opportunities and opened many doors. It was a passion that she feels privileged to have had fulfilled.
For many years, she produced a cultural television program that consisted of extended features to do with art, culture, nature and unique people and communities from all over the world. The team was small and, as a result, Maha ended up not just directing, but also researching, scripting, and presenting the stories. She traveled to over forty countries, which left invaluable impressions in her mind: the beauty the Ethiopia’s Simian Mountains, the fragrance of pristine dawns at the bottom of the world in New Zealand, the thunderous power of the Nile as it crashes through a six-meter gorge in Uganda's Murchison National Park, and the sight of the seventy-five saker and peregrine falcons soaring over Pakistan's mighty Hindu Kush Mountains as they were released in a UAE government program designed to increase their population in the wild.
On the local front, Maha Gargash directed a number of documentaries that remain to this day noteworthy references to various aspects of Emirati culture. During the making of these programs, she traveled to all corners of the Emirates and the experiences she encountered were precious, to say the least and, arguably, impossible to re-capture today because of society’s dramatic leap into modernity. Where can one find the nimble-fingered older women who weave the little girls’ hair into wings to make up the traditional shoongi hairstyle or track a lone traveler and his camel in the middle of an empty desert while he recited the tarij, which are verses that follow the plod of the camel's movement and serve to while away the long, lonely hours in the middle of the dunes?
Maha left Dubai Television in 2007 and opened Polka Dot, a boutique media agency that specialized in television media campaigns, productions that can best be described as big and bold. At this time, she was well in the middle of writing her first novel, The Sand Fish.
There was a time when you could see the sand change in color and texture just by traveling short distances. That has all changed now and Dubai has grown to become an exciting city that attracts visitors from all over the world. The United Arab Emirates has gone through a fast and impressive transformation. In fact, change came to this young nation so quickly that Emiratis has had little time to reflect on it. That is why Maha decided to set The Sand Fish in the past, choosing the 1950s because it was a time in which it became clear that the old lifestyle would soon disappear. Her work as a film director specializing in documentaries gave her access to the societies portrayed in the book.
Her second book is set in the mid 1990s in Dubai and Cairo. That Other Me delves into the little-known Khaleeji, Gulf-Arab, culture and has at its root past betrayals and secrets that have a consuming effect on the three main characters of a family held together by a fine thread.
Maha loves the good company of her family and friends. She enjoys reading, photography, watching movies, listening to classical music, and all forms of outdoor activities and travel. She appreciates the beauty of nature and is always ready to pack a bag and set off on a journey to a new and exotic location.
Maha is now working on her third book.