Six talks not to be missed at Hay Festival Abu Dhabi this weekend

From a mathematician's journey into the world of symmetry to a 90th birthday party for the great poet Adonis, here are the talks to catch at the inaugural Hay Festival Abu Dhabi

Syrian poet  and literary critic Ali Ahmed Saïd Esber aka "Adonis" poses, on March 23, 2015 in Paris.  AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP)
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The inaugural Hay Festival Abu Dhabi is in full swing. With a range of workshops, panel discussions and talks by award-winning writers, it promises to bring something for everyone. More than 100 events will take place across the scheduled four days, with Friday, February 28 the final round of talks. If you're heading down this weekend, but are unsure which of the author talks to attend, here's our pick of six not-to-be-missed sessions.

First up is British mathematician Marcus Sautoy, who will discuss the importance of symmetry in our interpretations of the world. The author of Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature will highlight how the concept appears everywhere from nature and evolutionary biology to art, architecture and music. His talk Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry, will take place at 1pm on Thursday, February 27, at the Tolerance Majlis stage.

Ahmed El Shamsy, an academic from the University of Chicago specialising in the Intellectual history of Islam, will discuss how the technology of print – which was adopted in the Middle East in the early 19th century – transformed Islamic scholarship and Arabic literature. His talk, Rediscovering the Classics, will take place at 4pm on Thursday, February 27, at the Tolerance Majlis stage.

A poet, a playwright, a designer and a performer, Inua Ellams is one of the most celebrated contemporary creators in the UK. After publishing four poetry books, he received the Fringe First Prize at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival in 2009 for his first play The 14th Tale. His most recent play, The Half God of Rainfall, is a work of verse that blends Greek, Nigerian and basketball mythology. He will be speaking about how his writing crosses disciplines and themes such as immigration and identity. His talk will take place at The Theatre, at 7pm on Thursday, February 27.

Jenny Valentine is an award-winning Young Adult writer and author of the contemporary classic Finding Violet Park. She spent a year travelling to Hay Festivals around the world and talking to teenagers about their lives. She shares the common threads and radical differences that came up in her conversations as she explores ways in which teenagers might be better understood and empowered. Her Talking to Teenagers event will take play at 10am on Friday, February 28, at The Theatre.

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Bernardine Evaristo, 2019 Booker Prize, shortlisted author, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019 on October 12, 2019 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Bernardine Evaristo skyrocketed to stardom when she won the 2019 Booker Prize. Her novel, Girl, Woman, Other, is a polyphonic exploration of the lives of 12 black British women of different generations. She will be discussing her work at 2.30pm tomorrow, at The Tolerance Majlis.

How else but a poetry party to conclude talks at the inaugural Hay Festival Abu Dhabi? A birthday party will celebrate the life and work of pioneering Syrian poet Adonis, who is turning 90 this year. A giant in world literature, he will be reading from his own work and will be joined on stage by poets from across the world. Adonis has been profoundly influential for generations of writers and readers of poetry. The party will take place at 8.30pm on Friday, February 28, at the Etihad Garden Stage.

For more information about Hay Festival Abu Dhabi, visit