The 14th edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, taking place in Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City and Habtoor Palace Hotel, is kicking off with a day dedicated to Emirati talents. The inaugural day of the 10-day event, February 3, will showcase top Emirati writers and speakers in a series of talks, panel discussions, workshops and poetry performances.
An exciting beginning to the leading literary festival, Emirati Cultural Day will unearth important topics, including sessions looking at the careers of the future, preservation of the past and the stigma of working in the arts. Presented in collaboration with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, it will feature some of the UAE’s most sought-after speakers, including HE Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, business leader Khalaf Al Habtoor and counsellor, artist and author Hala Kazim. Freej-creator Mohammed Saeed Harib and dynamic literary talents like Salha Obaid, Jamal Matar and Nadia Alnajjar will also be helping to make it a special day.
Habib Al Attar
The majority of the sessions on Emirati Cultural Day will take place in Arabic, including the Emirati readings panel with Ibrahim Ali Khadim, Al Najjar and Obaid. Dr Aisha Bilkhair and Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri will discuss preservation of the past, while the evening ends with beautiful Emirati poetry performances by Abdulrahman AlHumairy, Amal AlSahlawi, Mohammed Yousef and Sheikha Al Mutairi. HE Omar Saif Ghobash will also be there in the evening for a wide-ranging conversation about life, writing and his new book, a work of fiction about his father’s last day.
HE Saeed Al Nizari
However, there is one panel, which explores what the future of work will look like, that will be held in English. Titled “Careers of the Future,” members include experts like HE Saeed Al Nizari, the Director General of the Federal Youth Authority.
Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, touched on how important Emirati Cultural Day is in supporting the creative industry and creative talents in the UAE. While highlighting Emirati cultural talents, the dedicated event allows them to learn about the creations from other global talents.
Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri
"At Dubai Culture, we are keen to support Emirati Cultural Day as an important interactive cultural platform that provides the opportunity for a group of distinguished Emirati talents to share their visions and experiences with a wide and diverse audience,” the CEO said. “Through this platform, we also contribute to making culture and art accessible everywhere to everyone, enhancing the prosperity witnessed by the culture sector in the emirate, and supporting the creative industry and creative talents, in order to cement the emirate’s position on the global cultural and creativity map.”
Meanwhile, Ahlam Bolooki, Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, said a day devoted to Emirati literature is the best conceivable beginning to the festival that has welcomed 1,700 authors from over 100 countries to speak during the last 13 years.
“Arab and Emirati literature is rich in intellectual wealth, reflecting our diversity and heritage. It is wonderful to see the audiences grow along with the appetite for unique literary and cultural experiences,” Bolooki said.
The first weekend during the festival will go on to welcome book club favourite and author of “The Henna Artist,” Alka Joshi, children’s favourite, Be Miller, and jeweller to the stars, Azza Fahmy. “Demon Slayer” animator, Ken Arto, and acclaimed literary star, Brit Bennett, will also be making an appearance. Additionally, there’s the not-to-be-missed Saturday Supper with Nadiya Hussain, and a three-course feast with Italian TV chef Alessandro Borghese. The same weekend will see the announcement of the 10 winners of First Chapter: the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ fellowship, the announcement of the winners of the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize and the launch of the second anthology of winning stories for Voices of Future Generations for the Middle East.
To buy tickets and for the full list of authors, visit www.emirateslitfest.com