Egyptian author Khalid Al Khamissi and British author and journalist Kate Adie discuss literature, society and world affairs. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Dubai: Literature is about "social liveliness, it's a life-blood", veteran British journalist Kate Adie told Gulf News.

"It enriches life. Culture enriches people, it makes for a better society, it makes for a better educated and more cultivated and humane society. Literature is part of that," she said.

It was hugely important for corporations, such as banks, investment firms, construction companies and property developers to support literature as part of the arts, and for us to say to them "You can't just develop properties, you have to let people develop as well," Adie said.

"Cultural artistic behaviour is fundamental — it's not an add-on," she continued.

Honouring patrons

Adie is currently visiting Dubai with renowned Egyptian author Khalid Al Khamissi, to encourage more support for literature.

The authors attended a Patrons of the Arts literature dinner last night, held in collaboration with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

The inaugural Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards were held in March this year, honouring more than 50 arts patrons who have contributed almost Dh250 million towards the Dubai arts sector in the past three years.

"The Literature Festival was a new way of thinking for the Arab world," Al Khamissi said of the inaugural event.

"It's very interesting and related deep in society — it's not only an upcoming event for cultural people that speak to each other."

He continued that there was an old joke that people met and spoke to each other in their homes. Then the same people met at conferences and spoke about the same things.

"We don't know why we do this, because we know what I will say and we know what you will say, and in the conference we will say exactly the same thing in the same way. So what we need is to take a step forward, deep in society. This festival is trying to make this happen," he said.


According to statistics, of the donations to the arts in Dubai in the past two years, just two per cent went to literature.

Supporting literature, Adie said showed "that you're investing in people: you're actually believing the community should talk within themselves and also to the outside".

To date, more than 35 authors are confirmed for the Literature Festival, including Adie and Al Khamissi, as well as Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Haifa Bitar, Mark Billingham and Michael Morpurgo.


The Literature Festival will be held from March 8 to 12, 2011, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City.