Ahlam Bolooki appointed CEO of Emirates Literature Foundation

Festival founder Isobel Abulhoul will stay on as adviser and trustee

Ahlam Bolooki says she hopes to build on the Emirates Literature Foundation’s legacy. Photo: Emirates Literature Foundation
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Ahlam Bolooki has been announced as new chief executive of the Emirates Literature Foundation. The foundation's board of trustees said on Wednesday that Bolooki would succeed its founder Isobel Abulhoul, in addition to her current role as Emirates Airline Festival of Literature director and managing director of ELF Publishing.

Bolooki said she "could not be more grateful to take over the reins" from Abulhoul. "The opportunity to learn from her over the past four years has been one of the greatest privileges of my life," she added.

“My goal in leading this organisation is to build on the foundation’s legacy and use it as a stepping stone to reach greater heights of success," she said. "Since its incorporation, the foundation has expanded beyond being an organiser of an annual literary festival to being an integral part of the cultural ecosystem of the UAE with an emphasis on literacy and on promoting local talent on the global stage. I look forward to leading the next chapter in the foundation’s story.”

The festival, which held its 15th event in February, was first launched in 2009, with 65 authors travelling from around the world to Dubai for the inaugural event.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature held its 15th event in February. Leslie Pableo for The National

Since then, it has become a staple of the UAE's cultural calendar, with international and regional authors attending its talks and workshops. The festival has also expanded its children’s programme and helped expand the infrastructure of the country's writing community through competitions and a creative writing fellowship.

“I am delighted to hand over the foundation to Ahlam’s capable hands,” Abulhoul said. “She’s young, she’s passionate and she has proven herself by spearheading new initiatives and projects that feed into the organisation’s strategic growth in a successful and sustainable manner.”

Abulhoul also said that as the Emirates Literature Foundation enters its second decade, the mission of the festival remains the same — to spread the love of reading.

The first Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in 2009 - in pictures

Updated: March 16, 2023, 8:40 AM