Shaikh Ahmad and Noura Al Kaabi present Personality of the Year award to Abdul Ghaffar Hussain received by his son Mohammad at the official ceremony of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Several authors paid tribute to the written word in the official ceremony of the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Tuesday.

Emirati Dana Al Beloushi, who at 12 years old is the youngest author appearing at the festival, kicked off the ceremony by discussing her recently published book ‘13 Amazing Women of Arabia’.

“This book focuses on adventures and achievements of women in this region, in many fields, including science, fashion, government, business and more. These women have been a positive influence in my life and I hope that through my book more girls will come to know more about them,” she told the audience, before handing a copy to Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, who is also featured in the book.

Al Beloushi is also the youngest Emirati to train with Nasa and is involved in their programmes in the field of aeronautics and space administration.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Al Kaabi referred to the festival as platform that allows the UAE to present its best writers and authors to the rest of the world.

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group and Noura Al Kaabi, minister of culture and youth development at the official ceremony of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is a landmark event in the UAE’s cultural calendar,” she said. “The festival has successfully cemented its position as a premier platform for writers, thinkers, intellectuals and innovators to come together and discover latest publications and projects.”

Al Kaabi emphasised the importance of literature in promoting values of pluralism, diversity and intercultural dialogue.

“The festival is a great platform to cultivate thought and creativity. Through rich cultural discourse, we are able to promote the values of tolerance, which is in line with the festival’s theme and the Year of Tolerance in the UAE,” she added.

Meanwhile, festival director Ahlam Bolooki said this year’s event celebrated stories that connect, entertain, inspire and intrigue.

“We chose the theme of ‘United by Words’ for 2019 because we wanted to emphasise the importance of inclusivity and tolerance, with sessions that speak to us all, no matter who you are or where you are from.”

Bolooki pointed out the first half of the festival included sessions that showed the depth and range of the programme.

“Our festival is truly a meeting of minds, a bringing together of ideas and topics that are relevant to us all, and we can look forward to the rest of the festival which promises to be just as brilliant and inspiring,” she added.

Young winners pay tribute

The ceremony also featured two of the winners of the festival student competitions. Cheryl Leah Mathew, from Delhi Private School and winner of the Oxford University Press (OUP) storytelling competition, read an extract from her winning entry. Ward Abdul Halim Hasan from Dubai National School also read her winning poem from the Taaleem Award for Poetry.

‘Festival Personality of the Year 2019’

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Department of Civil Aviation, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, Chairman Dubai Airports and Chairman of the Emirates Literature Foundation, along with Al Kaabi, awarded an Emirati publisher, journalist and writer with the Festival Personality of the Year Award during the ceremony.

Gems International school Treble Choir performs at the official ceremony of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The winner, Abdul Gaffar Hussain, headed the Emirates writer’s union and contributed to the establishment of the first public library in the UAE, Dubai Public Library. His son, Mohammad Abdul Gaffar received the award on his behalf thanking the Dubai Literature Foundation.

The event also marked the signing earlier in the day of an agreement between the National Media Council (NMC) and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, to work more closely together to further support Emirati writers by implementing a wide range of initiatives.

The festival’s 11th edition has welcomed 170 authors who have participated in a rich schedule of programmes. Running until March 9, the festival held under the theme of ‘United by Words’, includes subjects covering all genres of fiction, a huge breadth of non-fiction topics, as well as children’s, family and youth sessions and more, brought to life by some of the world’s best-known authors.