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Author Sara Hamdan, from Dubai, has won a two-book deal with the publishing house Holt in the US. Her debut novel ‘What Will People Think’ was selected by the publisher after an auction. Sara is the first person in the region to achieve such an accolade.

Holt is the prestigious publisher of literary giants including Hilary Mantel, Toni Morrison and Liane Moriarity, as well as memoirs by Mariah Carey and Matthew Perry.

Sara – a Netflix short story award winner, former New York Times journalist and ex-editor at Google – joins Holt’s elite list of authors after participating in the First Chapter ELF (Emirates Literature Foundation) Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship.


The novel, What Will People Think? is the heart-warming story of a young woman’s career aspirations to become a stand-up comedian in New York City as she balances the traditions of her Palestinian upbringing with the need to live life – and to love – on her own terms.


It has been pitched as The Marvellous Mrs Maisel meets Crazy Rich Asians. It is scheduled for publication in the winter of 2025. “We are thrilled and proud beyond belief that Sara, one of the first cohorts in the First Chapter programme, has achieved this level of success so soon after completing it in February,” said Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation.

Sara, in a LinkedIn post shared on Thursday, said that she had been “waiting my whole life to say… I am going to be a published author!!”

She added, “It takes a village to make a breakthrough in any creative field. Deeply grateful to the incredible people who believed in me, from first drafts to initial rejections to dozens of edits… this is our collective win. Dubai has taught us well to dream big.”


Sara also shared that her debut novel will be launched in 2025. It features “a strong, funny Arab-American female lead.”

According to Sara’s LinkedIn profile, she is currently serving as the Managing Editor at Protocol Labs. Earlier, she was a Senior Contributor at Fast Company. In 2016, she was made the Editor-in-Chief of the MENA edition of Think With Google. Sara also had a stint at the New York Times.


Sara Hamdan went to the University of California, Berkeley, for her Bachelor of Science and obtained a master’s degree from Columbia University.