NAT 231117 Al Ain Book Festival ALOTBI (10)-1700564834964
Al Ain Book Festival this year offers 400 activities and events spread over nine locations Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The ongoing Al Ain Book Festival not only promotes reading – it offers 60,000 titles – but also fosters culture, art and brings families together through hundreds of events and activities.

The Festival’s basic themes support its mission of building a reading generation connected to the heritage and authentic values of Emirati society, appreciating the pioneers of culture, knowledge, and arts, empowering youth, and consolidating the prestigious status of the city of Al Ain.

To shed light on the Festival’s events and activities, Gulf News interviewed Dr Yasser Mohammed Zamzam, Director – Marketing and Communications Department, Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.

One of the main declared goals of the Al Ain Book Festival 2023 is to provide an integrated set of programmes and events which suit all family members. What are the features of the action plan developed by the festival management to achieve these goals? And how do you expect the level of participation from the public to be?

The Al Ain Book Festival 2023 celebrates all family members, offering a comprehensive set of events that consolidate its position as one of the most important cultural and community events in Al Ain and the UAE. Indeed, the transition from the traditional form of the exhibition to the current format of a festival is meant to amplify the positive impact the event aims to have on all members of the community in the city of Al Ain.

Dr Yasser Mohammed Zamzam, Director – Marketing and Communications Department, Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre
Dr Yasser Mohammed Zamzam, Director – Marketing and Communications Department, Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre Image Credit: Supplied

This year’s festival features a rich mix of over 400 cultural, heritage, artistic, musical, entertainment, and educational activities, events, and programmes catering to all family members, especially the youth. The event focuses primarily on promoting knowledge, empowering the youth, and creating generations of reading and knowledge enthusiasts.

The event addresses Emirati families, in particular, celebrating poetry and local heritage, all while highlighting local talents and inviting visitors and residents of all nationalities to immerse themselves in a unique cultural heritage experience.

Who are your main partners and supporters of your efforts to make this festival a success? What do you hope they will contribute to this great cultural, intellectual and heritage event?

The Al Ain Book Festival 2023 is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon bin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain Region.

Our key partners for the event include, first and foremost, the locations and institutions that will be hosting all of the festival’s activities. These are Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Qasr Al Muwaiji, Bait Mohammed bin Khalifa, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Zayed Central Library, Al Qattara Arts Centre, and several malls around the city of Al Ain, namely, Al Ain Mall, Barari Mall, and Al Foah Mall.

Children have a special share of the goals they hope to achieve in this festival. Can you share a summary of the most important activities and events included for the children and young people category and what interests the future generation?

This year’s festival features a dedicated Children and Youth Programme, which offers a comprehensive range of activities to promote and develop culture among children and youth, and aimed at nurturing future generations. The programme includes activities that excite them, while also contributing to their growth and developing their skills in an entertaining and educational framework.

Activities include highlighting prominent examples of children’s literature, in addition to celebrating World Children’s Day during the festival with group marches and specialised sessions.

The poetry and sung poetry element of the Festival’s agenda gives the event an important cultural and entertainment dimension. We would like you to outline the importance and objectives of the presence of poetic activities and events as part of the Al Ain Book Festival 2023?

Poetry and sung poetry take up a notable portion of this year’s festival, most notably with the ‘Poetry Nights: The Sung Poetry’ event taking place at Qasr Al Muwaiji, and offering a range of activities, literary evenings, and sessions featuring renowned poets, researchers in heritage and Arabic literature, and experts.

The inclusion of poetry in the programme has always been particularly important for us given that Nabati poetry is a pillar of the Arab literary movement and a cornerstone in our folk heritage, embodying the rich linguistic legacy at the core of the Emirati identity. The event offers the audience an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Nabati poems, learn about their specific historical characteristics, and explore the close ties they have to Al Ain, as well as the local and Gulf culture more broadly.

This also aligns with our overarching objectives at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre to advance the use of the Arabic language across various disciplines, and introduce audiences to the beauty of the Arabic language, highlightingits wealth of literary and poetic treasures.

The programme for ‘Poetry Nights: The Sung Poetry’ begins with an opening ceremony presenting icons of Nabati poetry and their legacy through timeless sung poems, renowned locally and around the region, in addition to various artistic and musical performances. It also includes a series of poetry evenings and panel discussions that highlight the achievements and creative works of Nabati poetry pioneers from the UAE and the Gulf throughout the duration of the event.