The Al Ain Book Festival, which is a highly popular annual event, is marking its 14th edition this year. Image Credit: Supplied

Al AIn: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon bin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain region, the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) has announced its annual Al Ain Book Festival (AABF) 2023, which will be held from November 19 to 25. The theme of the festival will be ‘All Eyes on Al Ain’ and the event will be held at Al Ain Square - Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and cultural sites including Qasr Al Muwaiji, Bait Mohammed bin Khalifa, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Zayed Central Library, and Al Qattara Arts Centre, as well as commercial centres around Al Ain city.

Now in its 14th edition, the festival celebrates books, art and various aspects of literary creativity, with a rich and diverse programme and interactive activities which promote a culture of reading, engaging various segments of the community, especially youth, in connecting with the rich cultural heritage of the UAE.

This year’s event will showcase publications covering all cultural fields, with 150 exhibitors presenting over 60,000 distinctive titles. The festival aims to attract more than 82,000 visitors to enjoy over 400 events and specialised programmes, distributed across various festival locations, collectively offering a unique cultural, entertainment and tourist destination for all visitors.

Prominent destination

AABF aims to highlight Al Ain as a prominent destination for organising outstanding events and exhibitions that cater to various segments of the community. The event showcases the diversity of the city, which is home to numerous historical and heritage sites, creating an exceptional platform for hosting the festival’s cultural, literary, artistic, sports, and entertainment activities designed to suit all ages and tastes.

Dr Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC, said: “Al Ain Book Festival is an inspiring cultural platform to empower youth and celebrate the pioneers of knowledge and arts. It is a major platform for the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre to strengthen the position of the Arabic language as a key cultural component of Emirati society. The book festival works to enhance the vision of the UAE leadership to build a generation that reads and is connected with the Arabic language and the authentic Emirati heritage and values.

“The festival is not just focused on books but also celebrates creativity and innovation, through the arts, music and singing. The current edition builds on the success of last year’s book festival which offered an interactive and communicative format to all members of society.” he added.

The ALC chairman went on to explain that that the festival seeks to enhance public awareness and knowledge of the cultural and heritage status of the city of Al Ain that offers a host of historical landmarks that have witnessed the various developmental stages of the UAE. These landmarks reflect the creative, cultural and artistic spirit of the city of Al Ain providing a backdrop for its various events and festivals that cater different segments of society. He stressed that this year’s edition showcased the various aspects of sustainable living in line with the efforts of the UAE to promote sustainability as a way of life.

For his part, Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, Executive Director of the ALC, asserted: “Al Ain Book Festival has proven its presence among the most important cultural and community events in the city of Al Ain. It succeeded in becoming a popular event, a cultural and touristic entertainment destination, and in putting books and culture at the forefront of family interest. In its new session, it continues to celebrate books and culture, addressing the interests of all members of society with more than 400 events and specialised programmes, distributed across the festival’s distinctive sites, designed specifically to suit all tastes. The festival aims to attract 82,000 visitors this year.”

The festival offers an ideal platform to showcase the latest works and publications of authors from the UAE and other parts of the world covering a range of topics. This year’s edition enjoys the participation of 150 exhibitors presenting more than 60,000 titles, in addition to the Poetry Nights event. Poetry Nights presents the legacy of popular poets who present culture through song and music.”

Locations across the city

Al Ain Book Festival 2023 is set to host activities and events across seven key locations around Al Ain city. Al Ain Square - Hazza bin Zayed Stadium is the festival’s main location, hosting a range of educational and entertainment activities, creative writing workshops, book signing events and more, with dedicated areas for children and youth. There will be art exhibitions and musical performances throughout the day, as well as an art corner offering workshops to nurture artistic talent.

Bait Mohammed bin Khalifa, a prominent Al Ain landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will host a series of cultural sessions, as well as the closing ceremony of the Al Ain Book Festival 2023. These activities will allow visitors to explore the site, which sheds light on the UAE’s social and architectural transition into modernism during the 1950s and 1960s.

Qasr Al Muwaiji will host the ‘Poetry Nights: Sung Poems’ event, which celebrates Al Ain’s iconic Nabati poets and their rich legacy of sung poems that have become famous locally and across the Arab world over the past decades. The location will serve as a platform for enjoyable poetry evenings that combine the arts of recitation and singing, appealing to various segments of the community.

Al Qattara Arts Centre, which plays a vital role in Al Ain’s artistic and cultural scene, will be hosting lifestyle sessions organised by the Festival, while its gallery proudly exhibits the works of Emirati and resident artists. AABF events will also be taking place at the Zayed Central Library, which will host the award ceremony for the second edition of the Kanz Al Jeel Award. Established in 2016, the venue is the largest public library in Al Ain, with an extensive collection that includes more than 100,000 books catering to both children and adults.

United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) will be hosting several sessions from the AABF Cultural Programme. UAEU is the first and foremost national university in the United Arab Emirates, established in 1976 by decision from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE. Meanwhile, Al Ain Mall, Barari Mall, and Al Foah Mall will host the ‘Khazanat Al Kutub’ initiative as part of the festival agenda.

Packed agenda

The Cultural Programme for the Al Ain Book Festival offers seminars and discussions that shed light on a wide range of vital topics, most notably sustainability, space science, and the UAE’s remarkable advancements in those fields, alongside subjects related to youth empowerment and child development. The programme also showcases the contributions made by Emirati women in various sectors, highlighting ways to foster a culture of innovation, and exploring models of literary creativity and children’s literature. It also includes other sessions to celebrate World Children’s Day.

For the second consecutive year, the Al Ain Book Festival is dedicating a programme to celebrating leading poets from Al Ain, known for their popular sung poems, and the event will host daily poetry evenings that highlight their legacy.

Entertainment for the whole family

The festival dedicates a significant part of its agenda to exciting activities and programmes for children and youth that contribute to their growth and skill development within an entertaining and educational framework. It also hosts an Arts Corner featuring artistic and creative workshops presented by a select group of artists and experts in various fields, in addition to musical performances on the stage and travelling shows held throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the Lifestyle Programme offers visitors to the Al Ain Book Festival 2023 an opportunity to explore rich and diverse lifestyles that help them cultivate enduring interests, with daily interactive workshops featuring various art forms. The Programme also focuses on promoting positive health practices, encouraging mindfulness, and developing new skills guided by specialised experts.