Dubai’s annual literature festival will launch in February with a showcase of Emirati writers and speakers set to boost local talent.
On the first day of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which runs from February 3 to 13, a series of talks, panel discussions, workshops and poetry performances will take place, featuring people such as Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director general of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs; Mohammed Saeed Harib, creator of popular animated show Freej; and business leader Khalaf Al Habtoor.
Others include literary figures Salha Obaid, Jamal Matar and Nadia Alnajjar.
The majority of the sessions on Emirati Day at the festival, which is taking place in a new location at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City and Habtoor Palace Hotel, will be held in Arabic, excluding a panel exploring what the future of work will look like.
Emirati diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash will also host a discussion in the evening about his life, writing and first novel, which was inspired by his father’s last day.
The opening session will end with poetry performances by Abdulrahman AlHumairy, Amal AlSahlawi, Mohammed Yousef and Sheikha Al Mutairi.
Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, chief executive of the arts and literature sector of Dubai Culture, says it will serve as an “important interactive cultural platform” for distinguished Emirati talents.
“Through this platform, we also contribute to making culture and art accessible everywhere to everyone, enhancing the prosperity witnessed by the culture sector in the emirate, and supporting the creative industry and creative talents, in order to cement the emirate’s position on the global cultural and creativity map.”
Festival director Ahlam Bolooki said it would mark the “best possible start” to the event. “Arab and Emirati literature is rich in intellectual wealth, reflecting our diversity and heritage. It is wonderful to see the audiences grow along with the appetite for unique literary and cultural experiences.”
The rest of the weekend will feature a host of international authors, including British actor and children’s author Ben Miller, The Henna Artist writer Alka Joshi, famed Egyptian jewellery designer Azza Fahmy and British Muslim chef Nadiya Hussain, to name a few.
The 10 winners of the First Chapter: the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship will also be announced during the first weekend, as well as the winners of the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize, plus a second anthology of winning stories for Voices of Future Generations for the Middle East will launch.
Festival-goers will need to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of attending.
More information is available at emirateslitfest.com