This post is also available in: العربية
Emirati authors will be taking centre-stage at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2021 during “Spotlight on Emirati Talent” day.
Sponsored by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the literary festival will start on Thursday, 4th February, at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City and will feature sessions in Arabic on publishing, translation, cinematography, and more. Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, will be headlining a panel discussing the future of the Arabic language.
Key panellists include Hala Badri, Director-General of Dubai Culture, who will speak on developing Dubai as a creative hub, and 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.
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 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”.
In “Make Your Own Poetry Chap Book Workshop”, award-winning poet and artist Shamma Al Bastaki 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 for production and distribution.
Audiences can discover traditional Emirati stories, and how they can be changed to a more contemporary setting in “Gabulous 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 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 and 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 happens when literature and cinema combine.
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.
Amal Al Sahlawi, Shamma Al Bastaki, Alia Al Shamsi, and other 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 heartbreaking world of medicine.
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 (29th and 30th January, 2021), the big middle weekend at the festival’s home, the InterContinental Dubai Festival City (4th to 6th February, 2021) and Alserkal Avenue (12th and 13th February, 2021).