Literature, poetry, politics and economics are some of the subjects to be discussed during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
Held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from Monday to Sunday, the annual event features a strong programme of daily panel sessions and seminars featuring award-winning authors, government officials, filmmakers and musicians.
Some of the big names appearing at the fair include Syrian poet Adonis, Nobel Prize for Economics winner Guido Imbens and this year's winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Their sessions will take place in various stages across the site, which will also feature hundreds of stands selling books from regional and international publishers.
Entry to the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is for those 16 years and older and is free with prior registration from the website. Vaccinated visitors are required to show a negative PCR test result on the Al Hosn app taken within the past 30 days. Unvaccinated or exempt visitors are required to show a negative PCR test result on the Al Hosn App received within 96 hours. Face masks must be worn at all times.
Here are 10 key sessions to check out at the fair.
1. 'Taha Hussein: Insight of Mind' (May 23, main stage, 7pm)
With Hussein recognised as the book fair's Cultural Personality of the Year, the 20th century author’s career will be honoured throughout the week.
In the first of numerous sessions dedicated to Hussein, a high-profile panel, including Egypt's minister of culture Inas Abdel Dayem and Saudi professor of literature Abdullah Al Ghadami, will explore the resonance of Hussein’s work and why he is lauded as the “Dean of Arabic Literature”.
2. 'Causality in Data Science' by Guido Imbens (May 23, main stage from 8.15pm)
Get set for a timely and fascinating lecture by the 2021 Nobel laureate in economics.
The Dutch-American will discuss the role economists play in predicting future societal trends, how they shape government and fiscal policies and some of the innovative methodology used to reach their conclusions.
3. A reading by Syrian poet Adonis (May 24, main stage, 7.30pm)
Sit back and listen to Adonis, one of the world's greatest living poets.
Recognised as a giant of Arabic literature, the work of Adonis — real name Ali Esber — has been studied in schools and universities across the Arab world, in addition to collections of his work published in various languages including English and French.
In a previous interview with The National, he described his poetry as partly powered by a desire to challenge prevailing misconceptions of the region.
“I want us to revise how we look at ourselves, how we look at our past and reanalyse ourselves and our culture and its relation to the world,” he said. “It is important to create a new picture for the Arabs, a more honest one and one we can build on again.”
4. Winner and shortlisted authors of the 2022 Ipaf (May 24, youth stage, 7pm)
By the time this session comes around we will know who is the winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, one of the Arab world's most prestigious literary prizes. The winner will be announced on the eve of the book fair on Sunday.
More than a victory lap for the winner, the event will have all six shortlisted authors discuss their acclaimed work. Demand to attend the session will rise should nominee Reem Alkamali become the first Emirati novelist to win the Ipaf award.
5. ‘One Hundred and One Books: Arabic Books that Enriched the World’ (May 25, Main Stage at 5pm)
Professor and Sheikh Zayed Chair in Arabic and Islamic Studies, Bilal Al Oraifi, leads a discussion on some of the most important and classic books to come from the Arab world and why they stand the test of time.
6. ‘The Current Status of the Arabic Novel by Roger Allan’ (May 26, main stage, 8pm)
Viewed as one of the most important contemporary American Arabists, Allan discusses the benefits and challenges of translating some of the works by Arab literary greats such as Naguib Mahfouz and Hanan Al Sheikh, in addition to why exposing such books to a global audience is necessary.
7. 'History of Music in the UAE' (May 27, youth stage, 4.30pm)
With conservatories such as Bait Al Oud and Berklee Music Abu Dhabi firmly part of the UAE music scene, it is easy to forget there was a time when aspiring musicians and composers had to achieve without the aid of such institutions.
Eid Al Faraj, who formed one of the UAE's first musical groups in 1969 in Ajman, and veteran composer Ibrahim Gomaa will discuss how the UAE's vibrant music came to be and some of the pioneering local cultural and music festivals of the past.
8. 'Gulf Women's Literature: Traits and Achievements' (May 27, youth stage 6.30pm)
Ipaf nominee Reem Al-Kamali will join fellow Emirati novelist Luwla Mansouri to discuss various aspects of Emirati women's literature, from its themes to key novels published over the years.
9. 'Global transformation and the future of soft power' (May 28, main stage, 11am)
The tumultuous times we are living in have caused nations to reassess their approach to multilateralism. Such moves throw up new challenges, such as what role soft power can play in addressing today's challenges.
UAE assistant minister for culture and diplomat Omar Ghobash and Indian politician Shashi Tharoor will unpack some of these issues in this timely session.
10. 'Saudi Cinema: towards a new understanding' (May 29, youth stage, 4pm)
With Saudi Arabia's film industry flourishing over the past five years, Saudi culture writer and novelist Yahya Qassim will discuss the progress and the challenges experienced along the way.
More information on the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is available at adbookfair.com