Emirati authors in the spotlight at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Emirati authors in the spotlight at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Emirati authors will be taking centre stage at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature during ‘Spotlight on Emirati Talent’ day. Sponsored by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the dedicated strand on Thursday 4 February at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City will feature sessions in Arabic on publishing, translation, cinematography, and more.

HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, will be headlining a panel discussing the future of the Arabic language.

Key panellists include HE Hala Badri, Director-General of Dubai Culture, who will speak on developing Dubai as a creative hub, and HE Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. They will discuss immigration reform and the UAE’s ‘Cultural Visa’ for creatives, exploring the UAE’s plans to build a sustainable society of talented individuals, and why this will be critical to the nation’s plans to build a prosperous future for generations to come.

There will also be a discussion on ‘Translators Going Global’ led by poet, editor and translator Ahmed Al Ali, assessing the importance of this perpetually undervalued part of the global book business. A poet, editor and translator, Al Ali has translated Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude, and Elif Shafak’s Black Milk and knows what it means to bring iconic works into a new language.

Author Mohammed Al Marzooqi, who has founded many reading clubs such as the Russian Literature Salon and the Nobel Friends Club, will be on a panel with Asmaa Seddiq, founder of Al Multaqa, the award-winning literary salon, discussing the history of salons, how they have evolved to fit the times, what they have learned from participating in literary conversations and how hearing other voices has informed their understanding of literature and the world. The panel will address the question of what literary salons contribute to culture and community, apart from being great social events.

Book reviews are a critical part of the reading ecosystem, guiding readers to books they will like and identifying connections and trends in the publishing industry. Al Marzooqi will also be teaching the art of writing the perfect book review in an interactive workshop explaining the techniques that make an impactful and memorable review.

An assessment of the current state of publishing in the region will be provided by publishers Fatima Albreiki and Talal Salim Alsaabri in a debate on ‘Publishing in a Time of Crisis’. The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact across every industry, and publishing is no exception. The panel will discuss the industry’s response and the innovations that have arisen in this difficult time.

The psychology of book design will be uncovered in a discussion between visual artist Simar Halwany and publisher Talal Salim Alsaabri on the subject ‘Judging a Book by its Cover’. First impressions matter, so these panellists show how a strong cover design and powerful illustrations are crucial in marketing and selling a book.
Aspiring poets can learn how to get their poetry into the spotlight in an interactive workshop with award-winning poet and artist Shamma Al Bastaki. In ‘Make Your Own Poetry Chap Book Workshop’, she will guide participants through the process of both writing poetry and putting together a chapbook - from selecting a theme and choosing the most suitable poems to production and distribution.

Audiences can discover traditional Emirati stories, and how they can be changed to a more contemprary setting in ‘Fabulous Folktales - From the Past to the Future!’ with Ameera BuKadra and  Maitha Al Khayat. With readings, live drawing and lots of questions for the audience, these acclaimed children’s authors will bring the wonderful stories from Emirati Folktales to life.  

Omani author Huda Hamed, Lebanese writer Selim Batti and Emirati Zayed AlMarzooqi will shed light on the impact of suffering and conflict on characters living under the psychological strain, broken relationships, and lost identities in this panel, exploring the role of fiction in Tension & Tragedy. Selim Batti will appear virtually.

Writer and director Obada Takla and author Hamad Al Hammadi, whose work has been successfully adapted for TV, in an entertaining session ‘The Magic of Page to Screen’, will look at what really happens when literature and cinema combine. The panel will discuss how a novel goes through several processes of transformation to reach the big (or small) screen and how a TV show or movie can be adapted creatively while remining faithful to the the original novel. Obada Takla will appear virtually.

Habib Al Mulla, one of the UAE’s most renowned legal personalities, will provide a glimpse of different attitudes to cuisine with his book My Journey to the World of Restaurants and look at how food conveys important messages about culture, identity and history.

Poetry is always a hugely popular part of the festival and this year will be no exception with performances by Amal Al Sahlawi, Shamma Al Bastaki, Alia Al Shamsi, and more. Poets from the UAE and beyond will come together to perform poems from numerous styles and traditions, accompanied by music, in this celebration of the Arabic spoken word.

Emirati writer and poet Sultan Al Ameemi will be in conversation, giving his views on ‘The Human Face of Literature’. He will discuss how literature can help us achieve inner peace and make us more loving and understanding of “the other”, enabling us to see things from different viewpoints by making us walk in other people’s shoes.

The art of the short story will be dissected by Afra Mahmood and Taleb Alrefaei, both masters of the craft. They will consider if the short story has been ignored in favour of novels, and ask if the format is relevant within the Gulf cultural scene today.

In another session, Dr Nafea Alyasi will explore his writing and take us into the moving, funny and heart-breaking world of medicine. Inspired by interactions with his patients and coloured by his own experiences, he will share how he creates unforgettable stories of life in hospital by understanding the world from new perspectives.

In addition to the Emirati focused day, the Festival will be featuring big names such as Nobel prize winner Malala and authors Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf, and Lemn Sissay with live appearances and virtual sessions across three weekends and three venues: Jameel Arts Centre (29-30 January), the big middle weekend at the Festival’s home, the InterContinental Dubai Festival City (4-6 February) and Alserkal Avenue (12-13 February).

Ticket prices start at AED 60 for adult sessions, AED 40 for children’s sessions, and AED 100 for a digital pass to watch live-streamed sessions from home. A minimum of 10 top sessions will be streamed live from the big Festival weekend at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Due to social distancing, there will be fewer tickets available for every session, so early booking is recommended. Tickets will be required for each session, including free sessions, to ensure visitor number restrictions are adhered to.

The festival will be fully compliant with all COVID-19 prevention regulations and guidelines from the Dubai Health Authority, including social distancing measures across all three venues and mandatory masks. See full details on the Emirates LitFest website.

The festival, which is being presented under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, is held with founding partners Emirates Airline and Dubai Culture.

For the full list of authors, visit emirateslitfest.com/authors. More information can be found online and year-round news of #EmiratesLitFest on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can also tune in to the Foundation’s two podcasts; the Best of the Emirates LitFest, and the Boundless Book Club.

News Source: https://mediaoffice.ae/en/news/2021/January/20-01/Emirates-Airline-Festival-of-Literature

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