From left: Dr Raja Al Gurg, Ali Al Saloom, and Maisoon Saqr Al Qassimi Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which will take place from February 1 to 6, has announced that it will feature its highest number of Emirati writers, speakers, creators and emerging talents attending a series of sessions, panels, and workshops.

All sessions are offered in Arabic and English as part of the ‘Bil Emirati’ theme, which is sponsored by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). The theme covers the recent developments in the publishing industry, culture and folklore, literature, sustainability, and other topics. The festival will take place at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City and Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

The line-up for 2023 features some of the most prominent speakers from the UAE’s cultural and creative sector such as Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Mohamed Ahmed Al Murr, Omar Saif Ghobash, Dr Rafia Ghobash, Maisoon Saqr Al Qasmi, Dr Habib Al Attar, Dr Raja Al Gurg, Major Ali Al Suwaidi, Ali Al Saloom, Nujoom Al Ghanim and more.

Tribute to father

A not-to-be-missed session is the intimate discussion between Julia Wheeler and Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who will give the audience insights about her recently published book ‘Through My Eyes’, which is a tribute to her father.

Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, said: “At Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, we hold the partnership with Emirates Literature Foundation in high regard. We are keen to support the Bil Emirati strand as it showcases Emiratis that are distinguished in the cultural field for a wider audience, which falls under our sectoral priorities to ensure our local talent are being showcased in front of a regional and global audience. Events like these address aims for establishing Dubai as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity and a thriving hub for talent.”

Ahlam Bolooki, director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, said: “Creativity is the greatest national treasure of all countries. The Arab region and the UAE are brimming with talents for the rest of the world to discover and enjoy. We are proud to offer an annual platform at the Festival that brings Emirati talents from various fields together with their peers from around the world to exchange opinions and perspectives in the form of this outstanding literary and creative experience.”

Tickets for Bil Emirati sessions and full programme are available at the website of Emirates Lit Fest.
Ticket prices start at Dh25.
Also new this year are day-long, weekend, student and publishing day passes starting at Dh199. Moreover there is an all-access Crystal Pass with exclusive entry to the Green Room.
Also returning is the Festival Fringe, with a host of free events and performances for the whole family

Prisoners’ recipe book

Following the launch of ‘Tomorrow, I Will Fly,’ the Festival celebrates the launch of another unique book ‘Feeding the Soul,’ featuring recipes by the inmates of Dubai’s penal and correctional institutions. The session will feature a panel discussion with Isobel Abulhoul, Colonel Jamila Al Zaabi and Zahra Abdalla discussing the culinary journey behind the publishing initiative and why food feeds our souls as well as our stomachs.

While the majority of the sessions take place at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City, the audience can enjoy taking the abra (traditional boat) in Dubai Creek and attend a selection of sessions at the Mohammed bin Rashid Library such as Ali Al Saloom and Prof Giovanni Bozzeti providing practical advice on how to be mindful of cultural practices when dealing with different people in both a professional and personal context.

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A chance for self-development is provided by Omar Al Busaidy, an Emirati corporate expert and strategist, who will share his experiences and offer valuable guidance on how to navigate through different aspects of life, setting up an entrepreneurial career, and other tips and tricks that can help achieve personal and professional goals.

Alexander Thomas, Ismat Mahmassani and Omar Saif Ghobash explore together another crucial aspect of our lives, spirituality. The panel discover how spirituality can offer a daily inspiration that transcends beyond religious practice and cultures across a shared human experience.

Night under the stars

A ‘night under the stars’ awaits the audience, taking them back to our ancestral roots to be immersed in indigenous folklore and legend in ‘Fables Around the Fire’, featuring Ben Miller, Budjette Tan, Bolu Babalola, Dubai Abulhoul, Nicholas Jubber and Saladin Ahmed.

A panel of experts including Dr Raja Al Gurg, the chairperson and managing director of one of UAE’s leading business conglomerates, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, joins Ann Hiatt, Silicon Valley veteran and speaker with decades of experience as the Executive Business Partner for Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, and Piyush Pandey, chairman of Global Creative and executive chairman of Ogilvy India, who will share their insights and advice on the skills that the business leaders of tomorrow will need.

The programme also features other prominent and emerging Emirati talents in a series of Arabic sessions such as Mohammed Al Murr, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library Foundation, who shares the journey of preparation for opening the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, one of the largest libraries both in the region and in the world. Dr Rafia Ghubash who brilliantly wrote and documented the lives of her grandfather, her mother and then her brother, Hussein Ghubash, whose work has gone on to become a reference for scholars and researchers, discusses the details of her journey of writing and wandering through the leaps of life, leaving her own imprint.

The Festival also hosts a special edition of the social media favourite ‘Ask Hala’, in which Hala Kazim answers the burning questions about friendships and relationships.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Festival is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by a Royal Decree. The festival is held in partnership with Emirates Airline and Dubai Culture.