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From left Lana Abdelhameed, Ben Okri and Ahlam Bolooki during the launch of Book Club the Expo City Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Dubai: Expo City Dubai has launched a “Connecting Minds Book Club’ at the Terra auditorium on Thursday.

Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri, British-Nigerian, was present at the lunch. He travelled from the UK to launch his book ‘Tiger Work’ at the Expo City Dubai’s new club.

The Book Club is expected to spearhead a movement to celebrate the power of books and raise awareness about climate change and sustainability. In collaboration with the Emirates Literature Foundation, the Book Club will connect a community of readers to stories that matter and offer opportunities for everyone to engage with some of the world’s most thought-provoking authors.

Lana Abdelhameed, Senior Manager, Programme Advisory and Events, Expo Dubai Group said: “ Connecting Minds Book Club has been set up in partnership with the Emirates Literature Foundation. Through the partnership, we have recognised the ability of books, the arts and poetry, to humanise what are sometimes abstract issues.

“At the core of it, it is about generating awareness for people to understand what they can do for climate change. So it’s a celebration of how written words can impact people on what the global outlook is all about.”

Ben Okri, Booker Prize-winning author of ‘The Famished Road’ said he could not think of a better location than Dubai for the launch of his latest book “Tiger Work.”

“Dubai is at the forefront of sustainability. It is not an accident that COP 28 is taking place in Dubai. Expo City Dubai is another example of the sustainable vision of Dubai and the UAE. I wish London or New York can have something like this.”

Ben Okri

Okri — a poet, author, novelist, essayist, climate activist — said, he doesn’t claim to be a climate change activist. “But, I believe in using the power of culture to help enlighten and speak to people. Cultural activism engages in dialogue. For example when I write a story, people read. All it requires is a small change to make a big difference.”

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Ben Okri ( Booker Prize-winning author of The Famished Road in Dubai for the launch of the Connecting Minds Book Club and the early release of his latest book Tiger Work ) by Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

He added: “Dubai to me is a perfect place to launch my books. Tiger Work with an environmental theme at the heart is for adults. The world today needs the right kind of fighting, generous, loving, intelligent and beautiful spirits to make this place sustainable. Expo City Dubai is the perfect platform for this.”

“Climate change is the single most important issue of our time and I feel a great responsibility to draw attention to it using the immense powers of literature. It is important to be having these conversations in advance of COP28 to lay a solid foundation.

Ahlam Bolooki, Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Literature Foundation, said: “Connecting Minds is more than just a book club, it is a world-shifting collaboration that will shine a spotlight on the transformative power of literature in inspiring us to protect and cherish the planet we call home. We are kicking off tonight with a thought-provoking conversation with award-winning author Ben Okri which I’m pleased to be moderating. By bringing together a diverse community that are committed to sustainability and giving them a space to engage in meaningful conversations and envision innovative solutions, we are creating a powerful network of change agents.”

She added: “As a foundation, we believe culture is a human right. And as a book lover, I believe that the answers to all big questions can be found between the covers of a book. Climate action is the most pressing issue of our times, and we are pleased to set the wheels in motion for our ground-breaking collaboration with Expo City Dubai.”

Connecting Minds Book Club

Connecting Minds Book Club will regularly feature talks, author signings and children’s workshops, with more details on upcoming events and prominent writers to be revealed soon. The club opens with a series of activities planned. The Expo School Programme will host a workshop with UAE students, evoking the magic of nature with a talk focused on his 2021 children’s book Every Leaf a Hallelujah.

To register for events and to become a member of the Connecting Minds Book Club, please visit Expo City Dubai. Tickets for the launch are priced at AED 50 each.