Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Emirati authors will be taking centre stage at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature during ‘Spotlight on Emirati Talent’ day. Supported by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the dedicated stand on Feb.4 will feature sessions in Arabic on publishing, translation, cinematography, and more.
Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Noura Al Kaabi will be headlining a panel discussing the future of the Arabic language.
Key panellists include Director-General of Dubai Culture Hala Badri, who will speak on developing Dubai as a creative hub, and Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri.
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 contemporary setting in ‘Fabulous Folktales – From the Past to the Future!’ with Ameera BuKadra and Maitha Al Khayat.
Omani author Huda Hamed, Lebanese writer Selim Batti and Emirati Zayed Al Marzooqi 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.
In addition to the Emirati focused day, the Festival will be featuring big names such as Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and authors Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Lemn Sissay with live appearances and virtual sessions.
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