Al Ain Book Festival is back, bigger and better with an expansive new programme

The event runs across five locations in the city

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The annual Al Ain Book Festival began on Monday with a new name and vision.

Running in five locations across the city until next Sunday, the free event — formerly called Al Ain Book Fair — brings together book lovers with authors, poets and publishers for sessions and events spanning literature, performance, music, film and sport.

Running under the official theme All Eyes on Al Ain, the city is a major character of this year's festivities with host venues including the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Zayed Central Library, Qasr Al Muwaiji (Muwaiji Fort), Bait Mohammed bin Khalifa and the United Arab Emirates University.

Ahead of the opening day's festivities, a concert was held at Al Jahili Fort. Dubbed A Night of Authenticity, the evening featured performances by Lebanese singer Abeer Nehme, Emirati folk singer Hamad Alameri and Saudi artist Arwa.

School pupils at the opening day of the Al Ain Book Festival at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium. Pawan Singh / The National

According to Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, which organiseses the event, Al Ain Book Festival has evolved to become an annual celebration of UAE arts and culture.

“The new spirit of the Al Ain Book Festival departs from the traditional role of book fairs as primarily platforms for buying and selling books, in favour of a distinctly interactive cultural celebration that shines a light on Emirati culture and creativity,” he said.

“The festival will be open to everyone with a special focus on young people, and the newly expanded visitor offering will showcase the work of Arab writers, artists and creatives that enrich our society today.”

Nearly 50 panel events and seminars will take place at the festival, featuring local authors, academics and cultural personalities.

The sessions, which are predominantly running at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, will explore various concepts such as youth empowerment, the difference between literary talent and hard work, and the various representations of the Emirati burqa in regional popular culture.

AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - January 16, 2019: Guests attend a barza, at Qasr Al Muwaiji.

( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )

Qasr Al Muwaiji will host Sung Word: The Eleven Poets of Al-Ain, a series of daily performances dedicated to Nabati poetry and other classical Arabic poetry.

Film screenings will also run at the stadium, featuring works of Emirati filmmakers such as Nujoom Alghanem and Nasser Al Dhaheri.

The festival will also host the prize-giving ceremony of the inaugural Kanz Al Jeel Award, which honours a new generation of Nabati poets and researchers.

Six winners were chosen out of 234 submissions from 20 countries.

The three Emiratis on the winners list include Salem Saif Al Khaaldi for the anthology Good Heart, and Ayesha Ali Al Ghais for her study on Emirati Nabati poetry.

“The cultural award stimulates literary creativity in the country and the region and celebrates the important poetic contributions of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his influence on contemporary Arabic poetry,” Bin Tamim said.

“The award will have a great impact on motivating creators in various fields to present quality works inspired by or related to Nabati poetry and its legacy, and to explore new and innovative ways to experiment with poetic compositions.”

Al Ain Book Festival runs until Sunday, 1pm-9pm. The full programme is available at

Updated: November 14, 2022, 3:23 PM