Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, one of the cultural highlights of the year, begins on Friday with an exceptional line-up featuring Nobel prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Lemn Sissay.
Programme highlights also include internationally acclaimed authors and Booker nominees Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar) and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer) and a day dedicated to Emirati talent.
There will be live appearances and virtual sessions across three weekends and three venues with an array of topics appealing to all - Jameel Arts Centre on Jan.29-30, the InterContinental Dubai Festival City from Feb.4-6, and Alserkal Avenue from Feb.12-13.
Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi expressed her delight that the festival’s grandeur is maintained in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is undoubtedly one of the most significant cultural events in the country and the wider region. I am very happy to know that the line-up of speakers, both live and virtual, is no less impressive than in the previous editions,” she said.
“I am sure the event will provide all cultural aficionados in the country and beyond a wonderful opportunity to listen to and interact with a host of creative geniuses from various spheres. I hope the event will also be an occasion for reflecting on the kind of literature produced in different part of the world in the backdrop of the pandemic,” she added.
Festival Director Ahlam Bolooki said, “We are beyond excited to have been able to stage the event this year with live appearances, in addition to welcoming a number of international authors who, due to current circumstances, are joining us virtually. What hasn’t changed is the breadth of subjects covered, the entertaining talks, incisive discussions and memorable performances.”
The Festival begins on Friday at Jameel Arts Centre with a selection of specially curated literary themed events, many with an art and design influence. The programme includes a host of live appearances, workshops, exhibitions and children’s activities, with sessions featuring 2020 Booker-nominated novelist Avni Doshi, book art and design workshops and exhibitions, calligraphy, poetry, creative writing and more. Many sessions are free to attend, including a packed programme of activities for children.
The Festival will continue with the big middle weekend at the Festival’s home, the InterContinental Dubai Festival City from Feb.4-6. Featured authors include Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer). There will also be a special day, Feb.4, dedicated to Emirati talent.
Alserkal Avenue will be the venue for the final weekend, Feb.12-13, that will feature acclaimed Egyptian writer Ahmed Mourad and a closing event with the vibrant performance poets Lemn Sissay, and Afra Atiq.
Many sessions will be inspired by the 2021 Festival theme, ‘Change the Story’, capturing the spirit of the times through family fun, enlightening talks, fresh ideas and dynamic performances centred on books, art, science, current affairs, film and food.
The Festival is held with the support of Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, said, “In spite of the challenges around us, we are proud to connect authors and storytellers with their audiences physically in Dubai, and virtually around the world at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The lens of literature shapes the way we understand and experience the world, especially as we live through and make sense of this historical moment.”
Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) said, “This festival embodies all aspects of creativity unleashing the imagination of the community, providing them with the pleasure of exploration and new ideas. With each session of the festival, a group of international and Arab writers and creative thinkers will present programmes aimed at educating audiences of all ages and various cultures that the UAE embraces. This year’s festival has many topics that directly impact our contemporary life.”
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.
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